Our top 10 Donnie Iris songs list digs deep into the music of an American rock and roll icon who rose to fame as the lead singer of The Jaggerz. Donnie Iris wrote and sang lead vocals to the band’s one-hit wonder “The Rapper,” a song that peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1970. However, Donnie Iris left The Jaggerz in 1976, with the band breaking up later in 1977. Donnie Iris joined the funk rock band Wild Cherry in 1978 as the band’s guitarist and lead vocalist.
Wild Cherry was yet another one-hit wonder having gained critical acclaim with the chart-topping 1976 hit “Play That Funky Music.” With Wild Cherry disbanding in 1979, Donnie Iris resulted to pursuing a solo music career in 1980. Donnie Iris was joined by former Breathless and Wild Cherry keyboardist Mark Avsec in his solo music career pursuits. Other notable members of the Donnie Iris and the Cruisers band include drummer Kevin Valentine and acoustic/electric guitarist Marty Lee Hoenes.
Donnie Iris’s Career Beginnings and Breakthrough
In 1980, Donnie Iris started his solo music career as Donnie Iris and the Cruisers. Thanks to Mark Avsec and Donnie Iris’ magical songwriting and production skills, Donnie Iris’ solo career gained critical acclaim imminently with the debut album, Back to the Streets. Back to the Streets, issued through Midwest National Records, was a success on the Billboard 200, peaking at number fifty-seven. The album also made it to the Australian Albums Chart, peaking at the forty-fourth spot. “Ah! Leah!” “I Can’t Here You,” and “You’re Only Dreaming” are some of the best Donnie Iris songs from the album.
Donnie Iris’s Album Releases over the Years
After the release of his critically acclaimed debut album through a small record label, Donnie Iris bagged a recording contract with MCA Records. The singer would soon after release his sophomore LP, King Cool, through MCA Records. Like Back to the Streets, King Cool was produced by Mark Avsec. King Cool is the singer’s second highest charting solo album, peaking at number eighty-four on the Billboard 200. “Love Is Like a Rock,” “That’s the Way Love Ought to Be,” “My Girl,” and “Sweet Merilee” are the most popular Donnie Iris songs from King Cool.
The High and the Mighty, issued in 1982, marked Donnie Iris’ third studio album release. While the album marked the decline in Donnie Iris’ mainstream success, it still featured some of his best classics including “Tough World,” “The High and the Mighty,” and “This Time It Must Be Love.” The High and the Mighty made it to the Billboard 200, peaking at number one hundred and eighty. Donnie Iris would soon after in 1983 issue the album, Fortune 410. Fortune 410 is home to the singer’s hit “Do You Compute?” The album peaked at number one hundred and twenty-seven on the Billboard 200. Fortune 410 was Donnie Iris’ last album release through MCA Records who were dissatisfied with the album’s commercial and mainstream performance.
After his tenure with MCA Records, Donnie Iris signed a recording contract with HME Records where he issued the album, No Muss…No Fuss. The album, issued in 1985, turned out to be a success on the charts, peaking at number one hundred and fifteen on the Billboard 200. No Muss…No Fuss was the band’s last album to make it to the Billboard 200 and only release through HME Records. “Injured in the Game of Love” and “State of the Heart” are some of the best Donnie Iris songs from the album.
Donnie Iris and the Cruisers faced a tough time following its declining impact in the mainstream. As a result, its bassist Albritton McClain and drummer Kevin Valentine joined Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor in The Innocent. Mark Avsec on the other hand went on to start his pop-rock act Cellarful of Noise. Donnie Iris returned to the music scene with his band the Cruisers in 1992, issuing the album, Out of the Blue. The album featured some of the best Donnie Iris songs released in the ‘80s and six new hits including “Love Whispers” and “The Mad Siberian.” Out of the Blue was the band’s first album issued through Seathru Records.
While still under Seathru Records, Donnie Iris and the Cruisers issued two new LPs, Footsoldiers in the Moonlight in 1993 and Poletown in 1997. Footsoldiers in the Moonlight featured the band’s cover of “Gloria” by Van Morrison’s band, Them. Other cover songs included on the album include “Mercy Mercy Me” by Marvin Gaye and “Minnie the Moocher” by Cab Calloway and His Orchestra.
In 1999, Donnie Iris issued his ninth studio album, Together Alone through Primary Records. Donnie Iris released his next album, Ellwood City, in 2006 through the same label. Ellwood City is home to Donnie Iris’ cover of the 1967 hit “Soul Man,” which was co-written by David Porter and Isaac Hayes for the soul and R&B duo, Sam & Dave. Donnie Iris’ most recent album release is the 2010 Christmas album, Ah! Leluiah!
Donnie Iris’s Legacy
Donnie Iris remains one of the iconic singer-songwriters of all time in the rock scene. The singer is responsible for penning notable hits including “The Rapper” by The Jaggerz and his signature hit “Ah! Leah!” Donnie Iris played a huge role in taking pop rock and power pop into the mainstream. However, the singer failed to make a major impact in the mainstream past 1985. Here we present the ten best Donnie Iris songs of all time.
# 10 – You’re Only Dreaming
Ushering us to the top 10 Donnie Iris songs list is the thrilling hit “You’re Only Dreaming.” The song is among the top musical gems from the band’s debut album, Back on the Streets. “You’re Only Dreaming” showcases the impeccable song arrangement by the band combined with Donnie Iris’ magnificent vocals. While this song failed to make it to the charts, it became one of the fan-favorite tracks by Donnie Iris and the Cruisers.
# 9 – The High and the Mighty
In 1982, Donnie Iris released the anthemic hit “The High and the Mighty.” The song served as the title track of the singer’s third album released in the same year. Without a doubt, The High and the Mighty failed to match the mainstream appeal of Donnie Iris’ debut and sophomore album. However, this rock song still gave Donnie Iris’ fans a reason to stay hooked to his new songs, thanks to its aggressive marching beats.
“The High and the Mighty” was the second song from his third studio album to make it to the charts, peaking at number thirty-nine on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks Chart. American lyricist Ned Washington penned a song with the title “The High and the Mighty” in 1954 for a film of the same name.
# 8 – I Can’t Hear You
Coming in at number eight on our ten best Donnie Iris songs list is the breathtaking rock hit “I Can’t Hear You.” The song takes us back to Donnie Iris’ dazzling debut album, Back to the Streets. The song features some heavy yet brilliant guitar riffs whose intensity can be felt from the beginning. “I Can’t Hear You” made it to the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks Chart, peaking at number forty-seven.
# 7 – Tough World
The High and the Mighty is home to the seventh pick on our top ten Donnie Iris songs list, “Tough World.” While the album was a commercial flop, songs like “Tough World” helped maintain the band’s quality power-pop sonic influences. The song’s tremendously catchy melody makes up the primary reason it dominated over all the hits on The High and the Mighty.
“Tough World” also brings out the brilliance of the Cruisers in the background vocals. The song managed to rise to number twenty-six on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks Chart. “Tough World” also made it to the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at number fifty-seven.
# 6 – Injured in the Game of Love
Number six on our top 10 Donnie Iris songs list is the tremendous hit “Injured in the Game of Love.” The song is among the exhilarating hits released by Donnie Iris in the aftermath of legal kinks with MCA Records. “Injured in the Game of Love” was featured on No Muss…No Fuss, an album issued through HME Records.
While Donnie Iris’ mainstream impact was on the decline, songs like “Injured in the Game of Love” proved too strong for power-pop and arena rock lovers. “Injured in the Game of Love” managed to rise to position twenty-eight on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks Chart. The song is the final song by Donnie Iris to make it to the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at number ninety-one.
# 5 – Sweet Merilee
King Cool, Donnie Iris’ first album issued through MCA Records, saw the singer take on more classic rock sounds compared to his debut album, Back to the Streets. The move paid off, seeing three of the album’s releases including our fifth pick on the best Donnie Iris songs list make it to the Billboard Hot 100.
“Sweet Merilee” is best remembered for its outstanding harmonies. The song managed to rise to the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks Chart, peaking at number thirty-one. “Sweet Merilee” made it to the Billboard Hot 100 Chart, peaking at the eightieth spot.
#4 – Do You Compute?
There was no better way to close the album Fortune 410 than with the exceptional hit “Do You Compute?” The song’s thundering power chords and Donnie Iris’ magical vocal delivery make up the backbone of its mainstream success. While Fortune 410 might not have been the most acclaimed album by Donnie Iris, songs like “Do You Compute?” helped maintain the singer’s impact in the power-pop and pop-rock scene. The song peaked at number twenty on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks and number sixty-four on the Billboard Hot 100.
# 3 – My Girl
The third pick on our top 10 Donnie Iris songs list is the splendid hit “My Girl.” “My Girl” is among the musical gems featured on the singer’s sophomore album, King Cool. The song appeals to rock fans thanks to its contagious singalong nature. We cannot seem to forget The Cruisers’ magical background vocals in this hit.
Of all the songs issued on the album King Cool, “My Girl” was the highest charting hit on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at number twenty-five. The song also made it to the Canadian Singles Chart, peaking at number forty-seven.
# 2 – Love Is Like a Rock
“Love Is Like a Rock” is yet another musical gem from the band’s sophomore studio album, King Cool. The song features some additional hard rock sonic influences to the singer’s usual power-pop and pop-rock sounds. “Love Is Like a Rock” feels amazingly crunchy, thanks to the percussion-driven melody. Like “My Girl,” the song fits the category of the best singalong rock hits by Donnie Iris.
The English hard rock/glam rock band Slade issued its version of “Love Is Like a Rock” in 1987 on its album, You Boyz Make Big Noize. Donnie Iris’ version was a success on the charts, peaking at number thirty-seven on the Billboard Hot 100. The song also made it to number nine on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks Chart. “Love Is Like a Rock” made it to the Canadian Singles Chart, peaking at number forty-three.
# 1 – Ah! Leah!
Number one on our top 10 Donnie Iris songs list is the infectious hit “Ah! Leah!” The song was issued on the singer’s debut album, Back to the Streets. “Ah! Leah!” features some of the most crunchy guitar riffs by any Donnie Iris hit. The song’s throbbing bassline and infectious hook also played a huge role in ensuring “Ah! Leah!” was a mainstream success.
“Ah! Leah” managed to rise to the nineteenth spot on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks Chart. The song is Donnie Iris’ highest charting hit on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at number twenty-nine. “Ah! Leah!” was covered by the hard rock band Sin City Sinners in 2010.
article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2022
Classicrockhistory.com claims ownership of all its original content and Intellectual property under United States Copyright laws and those of all other foreign countries. No one person, business, or organization is allowed to re-publish any of our original content anywhere on the web or in print without our permission. All photos used are either public domain creative commons photos or licensed officially from Shutterstock under license with ClassicRockHistory.com. All photo credits have been placed at the end of the article. Any theft of our content will be met with swift legal action against the infringing websites.