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In 1966, Rivers switched gears and began to record ballads that mixed his soulful voice with smooth-sounding backing vocalists.He produced several successful hits including his own "Poor Side of Town", which would be his biggest chart hit and his only #1 record.Johnny Rivers career total is 9 Top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 and 17 in the Top 40 from 1964 to 1977; he has sold well over 30 million records.Rivers is one of a small number of performers including Mariah Carey, Paul Simon, Billy Joel, Pink Floyd (from 1975's Wish You Were Here onward), Queen, Genesis (though under the members' individual names and/or the pseudonym Gelring Limited) and Neil Diamond, who have their names as the copyright owner on their recordings (most records have the recording company as the named owner of the recording).
In 1968, Rivers put out Realization, a #5 album that included the #14 pop chart single "Summer Rain", written by a former member of the Mugwumps, James Hendricks. and "Help Me Rhonda" in 1975, (originally a #1 hit for the Beach Boys), on which Brian Wilson sang back-up vocals.
She encouraged Rivers to move to Nashville, where he found work as a songwriter and demo singer. By this time, Rivers had decided he would never make it as a singer, and song writing became his priority.
In 1958, Rivers met fellow Louisianan, James Burton, a guitarist in a band led by Ricky Nelson.
Burton later recommended one of Rivers' songs, "I'll Make Believe", to Nelson who recorded it.
They met in Los Angeles in 1961, where Rivers subsequently found work as a songwriter and studio musician.
In addition, Rivers recorded the title song for the late night concert-influenced TV show The Midnight Special.