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1977: The Demented Year in Review

What a year 1977 was!

President Carter, teeth and all, was sworn in as the 39th president just two months after the election, and was paid more than just peanuts. In Television, Bill Murray joined Saturday Night Live, the Love Boat sailed off, CHiPs cruised the freeways, we washed our troubles away with Soap, and we found out that Three's Company and Eight is Enough. In Movies, we had a Close Encounter of the Third Kind, boogied to Saturday Night Fever, and blasted off into a galaxy far far away with Star Wars, which brings us to this interview from 1977. As Dr. Demento mentioned earlier, you can always get a feel for what was happening for just about any year in the 60's and 70's by listening to a Dickie Goodman record from that year. Star Wars was, of course, the #1 movie of 1977.

  • "Star Warts", by Dickie Goodman

    in the background, "Star Wars (Discoized)", by Meco

    There's no question as to who the #1 comedian of 1977 was. He appeared on The Tonight Show and as a guest host on Saturday Night Live countless times in the 1970's and even in the 80's and 90's and has had a movie career since leaving the stand-up days behind, but he put out three excellent LP's of his comedy routines such as this from "Let's Get Small", which catapulted him from nightclub comedian to superstar and before the year ended, everybody was saying "Excuuuuuse Meeeee!"

  • "Excuse Me", by Steve Martin

    in the background, we hear "The Theme From Rocky", the movie blockbuster from late 1976, but the theme was a hit on the pop charts in 1977

    This was the best-selling funny record on a 45 in 1977. This also has something to do with communication...

  • "Telephone Man", by Meri Wilson is available on the Rhino CD "Super Hits of the 70's Volume 21"
  • "Men", by Martin Mull from his album "I'm Everyone I Ever Loved", which sold a fair number of LP's and tapes in 1977

    in the background, we hear more of the discoized Star Wars theme from Meco, the Cantina segment

    This is another 45 from that year, and it sums up what a lot of people were into. A TV show that a lot of people watched was "Welcome Back, Kotter" and this record is from the star of the show...

  • "Up Your Nose", by Gabriel Kaplan
  • "In The Mood", by Henhouse Five Plus Too from "The Best of Ray Stevens" CD on Rhino

    In those days, we had a separate version of the Dr. Demento Show just for Los Angeles, and there's a local high-school student whose songs have become quite popular on the local version of the show starting in the Fall of 1976, and so in early 1977, Dr. Demento gave him a spin on the national version of the show, and this was the first song anybody outside of Los Angeles ever heard by the young man who was known at the time simply as Alfred Yankovic...

  • "School Cafeteria (demo version) (excerpt)", by "Weird Al" Yankovic (Alfred Yankovic)

    Well a couple of years later, Alfred by that time known as "Weird Al" Yankovic came up to our studios and sang that song out live with a better microphone and it came out like this...

  • "School Cafeteria (live on KMET, 11-11-79)", by "Weird Al" Yankovic

    It was also in 1977 that Dr. Demento opened a package from Omaha to find an LP called "Stuffed" by The Ogden Edsl Wahalia Blues Ensemble Mondo Bizzario Band. There were some nice comedy sketches and several songs including one that really jumped right off the turntable, in fact, it went on to become one of the two most requested demented songs of all time so far as of 1998. Bill Frenzer is the lead singer...

  • "Dead Puppies", by The Ogden Edsl Wahalia Blues Ensemble Mondo Bizzario Band, now known simply as Ogden Edsl

    Actually there was another new song in 1977 that got even more requests that year and it features the great Freddie Blassie. Yes, before there was Hulk Hogan or Jerry Waller or any of those other wrestling guys, there was the mighty Freddie Blassie, along with The Crusher, he was the most famous wrestler of his time and Freddie was especially famous for the way he rants and raves in front of the TV cameras. While he was filming a part in a B movie when the guys who were writing the music for the flick wrote a song inspired by Freddie's rants and raves, and they got the great man to record it himself, and before long, he was a star on the Dr. Demento Show!

  • "Pencil Neck Geek (extended version)", by Fred Blassie

    Events in 1977

    01/03, Apple Computers was incorporated.

    01/15, The Coneheads debut on "Satruday Night Live". DAN AYKROYD and JANE CURTIN portray coneheaded aliens for the first time on "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE", on a night when Consumer Activist RALPH NADER is hosting. Sixteen years later, the oddball characters will jump to the big screen, for a "CONEHEADS" movie (The night's musical guest was GEORGE BENSON singing "THIS MASQUERADE")

    01/19, The Disney studio launches "The New Mickey Mouse Club" on TV.

    01/20, "Take This Job & Shove It" album by Johnny Paycheck was released

    01/23, "The Brady Bunch Hour", TV Variety, debut on ABC. Not only did it premiere one year and a week to the anniversary "Donny & Marie" did, it was virtually cloned after it!

    01/23, Pink Floyd's "Animals" LP was released.

    02/05, R.C., "C.B. Savage" by Rod Hart peaked at #67 on the pop singles chart.

    02/05, R.C., "In The Mood" by Henhouse Five Plus Too (Ray Stevens) peaked at #40 on the pop singles chart.

    02/05, R.C., "Up Your Nose" by Gabriel Kaplan peaked at #91 on the pop singles chart.


    03/02, future Tonight Show host Jay Leno made his debut there with host Johnny Carson.

    04/14, Actress Sarah Michelle Gellar, star of TV series "Buffy, the Vampire Stalker," was born. You can hear her name called in "Weird Al" Yankovic's song "All About The Pentiums"

    04/16, in the first of 11 such sketches on "Saturday Night Live," Bill Murray's "Nick the Lounge Singer" works the unresponsive crowd for the Happy Hour in the Zephyr at Lake Minnehonka's beautiful Breezy Point Lodge.

    05/17, "Toledo Window Box" album by George Carlin was certified Gold by the RIAA

    05/25, the motion picture "Star Wars". George Lucas's first part of the second triology (Chapter IV), opened in theaters and broke all box office records.

    05/27, "Richard Pryor's Greatest Hits" album by Richard Pryor was released

    06/11, R.C., "Ain't Gonna Bump No More (With No Fat Woman)" by Joe Tex peaked at #12 on the pop singles chart.

    07/04, while Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman may be taking a summer vacation, Barth Gimble and the rest of the town are still hard at work, though not at the local Taco Bell. Instead, they're producing the most exciting talk show ever to emit from WZAZ-TV -- "Fernwood 2-Night," a talk show parody designed by Norman Lear to be an equal opportunity offender.

    07/08, "Paramount Pictures is planning to produce 22 episodes of an all-new Star Trek to begin appearing in April 1978 as part of an effort to create one night a week of prime time programs on a proposed fourth network of independent and network affiliated stations." The series never comes to pass, but Paramount does eventually get its network going -- UPN, in 1995.

    07/28, "The Floaters" album by The Floaters was certified Gold by the RIAA. Cheech and Chong "aka The Bloaters" parodied one of their songs on the album "Float On" and redubbed it "Bloat On"

    08/16, The King is dead. Elvis Presley died in his Memphis mansion, Graceland. According to Presley's girlfriend, Ginger Alden, she awoke in the afternoon and noticed he was not in bed. She found in lying on the floor of the bathroom. Efforts to resuscitate him were unsuccessful and at 3:30 p.m. he was pronounced dead. According to reports, the death resulted from coronary arrhythmia. Within the next couple of days, the death becomes one of the biggest media events in the past twenty years. It also sparks debates on whether or not the death was staged and if he was still alive and well. Within a few hours after the announcement, thousands of fans are enroute to Memphis to pay their respects. Elvis Presley was 42. Where were you when you heard the news?

    08/19, Actor and comedian Groucho Marx died. Probably the most popular of the Marx Brothers, whose films include "A Night at the Opera" and "A Day at the Races."

    08/20, R.C., "Telephone Man" by Meri Wilson peaked at #18 on the pop singles chart.

    08/27, "Star Wars Theme/Cantina Band", by Meco entered the Top 40 chart.

    09/00, "Second City Television", TV Variety; debut in syndication.

    09/03, Gefilte Joe graduated from Mel Bay Guitar School. He would later form Gefilte Joe and The Fish.

    09/13, "Soap", TV Comedy, soap opera parody; debut on ABC with the first viewer discretion warning. Before the show even aired, religious groups wanted to wash ABC's mouth out OF Soap, but the network held fast. The show premieres, and Billy Crystal will become TV's most famous gay character in the days before Ellen DeGeneres's lesbian coming-out episode in 1997, while costar Richard Mulligan will become invisible. Nowadays, there is more widespread acceptance to the gay citizens than there ever was back in this day.

    09/13, "The Richard Pryor Show", TV Variety; debut on NBC.

    09/15, "The Redd Foxx Comedy Hour", TV Variety; debut on ABC.

    09/17, R.C., "Sheena Is A Punk Rocker" by Ramones peaked at #81 on the pop singles chart.

    09/17, R.C., "Float On" by The Floaters peaked at #2 on the pop singles chart; it was parodied by Cheech and Chong the next year with "Bloat On (Featuring The Bloaters)".

    09/17, R.C., "Star Wars (Main Title)" by London Symphony Orchestra (John Williams) peaked at #10 on the pop singles chart.

    09/24, Decathlon runner John Belushi shares with viewers the training secret that helped make his world record possible -- "Little Chocolate Donuts" on "Saturday Night Live," on this night. "They taste good and they've got all the sugar I need to get started in the morning."

    09/24, R.C., "The Martian Boogie" by Brownsville Station peaked at #59 on the pop singles chart.

    09/24, Styx' "Come Sail Away" is released. In the late 90's, Eric Cartman sang the song in "South Park"


    09/27, USA Network was launched on the MSG Network.

    09/28, "Star Wars & Other Galactic Funk" album by Meco was certified Gold by the RIAA

    10/01, R.C., "Star Wars Theme/Cantina Band" by Meco peaked at #1 on the pop singles chart.

    10/14, during an otherwise boring press conference, Anita Bryant gets a cherry cream pie in the face courtesy of gay activist Thom Higgins. Bryant doesn't press charges.

    10/26, "Telephone Man" single by Meri Wilson was certified Gold by the RIAA

    10/29, Meat Loaf released his landmark album "Bat Out Of Hell".

    11/26, the Sex Pistols' "Anarchy in the U-K" album was released.

    11/29, "Let's Get Small" album by Steve Martin was certified Gold by the RIAA

    11/30, in an odd pairing, David Bowie sang "Little Drummer Boy" with Bing Crosby for the latter's TV special airing on this day. Bing died Oct 14 after they taped it a month earlier.

    12/10, "Short People" by Randy Newman entered the Top 40 chart.

    12/10, R.C., "Grandmother's Song" by Steve Martin peaked at #72 on the pop singles chart.

    12/14, "Saturday Night Fever", Motion Picture starring John Travolta complete in a white polyester disco suit, music by The Bee Gees, premiered in New York City. The flick is instrumental in spreading the disco craze throughout the country. The soundtrack is full of recent and soon-to-be dance hits by the Bee Gees, the Trammps, Kool & the Gang, MFSB, K.C. & the Sunshine Band and Yvonne Elliman. It will be one of the biggest-selling albums of all time, selling 25 million copies.

    12/17, Elvis Costello & The Attractions made their U.S. TV debut on "Saturday Night Live", apparently deputizing for The Sex Pistols, who couldn't get a visa to enter the country. Producer Lorne Michaels refused to allow Costello to perform "Radio, Radio" (because of the song's criticism of the broadcasting industry), but a few measures into "Less than Zero," Costello halts his group and goes into "Radio, Radio." Over time, Lorne and Elvis have made up and he has appeared several more times on the show (although Lorne Michaels did say he never would).

    12/25, Charlie Chaplin, U.S. star of silent comedy films, died at age 88.

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