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1978: The Demented Year in Review

What a year 1978 was! 1978 was a wonderful year in terms of novelty music and subjects.

The movies saw last December's hit "Saturday Night Fever" break box-office records while its disco soundtrack also did the same with many hit singles spun off there; did I mention that disco was the biggest music craze that year? We first saw Mork the Orkan, WKRP signed on, and we hailed a Taxi on television. This was also the year that the Dr. Demento Show returned to syndication weekly.

  • "King Tut", by Steve Martin & The Toot Uncommons from the LP "A Wild and Crazy Guy". The song was a demented salute to a traveliing museum exhibition about King Tut. He debuted the song as a guest on the "Saturday Night Live" TV show.
  • "Disco Crep", by Big Daddy
  • "My Girl Has Three Legs", by Damaskas, who had a new song almost every week back then

    The Beatles takeoff "All You Need Is Cash" featuring The Rutles on NBC is better remembered today than any other TV special that finished last in the Nielsen ratings.

  • "OUCH!", by The Rutles
  • "Thank God I'm A Rich Kid", by Ogden Edsl, who made an album with a whole bunch of songs on tape following their "Dead Puppies" hit from last year.
  • "Dust Up His Nose", by Larry Rand from Chicago the city

    This was the most-celebrate parody this year, and it became a most sought-after rarity after it was banned in the marketplace. Dr. Demento couldn't play it for a while. Now that parodies are ok, could they rerelease this song once again? Maybe.

  • "Gilligan's Island (Stairway)", by Little Roger & The Goosebumps
  • "(Your Love Is Like) Nuclear Waste", by Tuff Darts, which came out of the punk scene, which was gaining popularity back then, but would become more in the spotlight in the next decade.

    Cloning was in the news in 1978. This hasn't been played in a long while, but now that cloning is a hot topic, this song is getting a second wind here...

  • "Clone Of My Own", by Brian Clark

    "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" movie actually came out in 1975, but it was 1978 that the movie really became a cult smash with its weekend midnight showings all across American movie houses and it's still going strong today.

  • "Sweet Transvestite", by Frank N Furter (Tim Curry)

    Another big story was clothing-optional beaches and Shel had a song about it...

  • "Show It At The Beach", by Shel Silverstein

    This is the most-requested track off Shel's rare album. This was originally written as a poem that appearred in Playboy Magazine...

  • "The Smoke-Off", by Shel Silverstein

    The above two songs are from his LP "Songs and Stories", which quickly disappearred and became a collector's item when his label went out of business.

    And of course, who could ever forget one of the two most popular demented songs of all time? Is it #1 or #2 on the all-time list?

  • "Fish Heads", by Barnes & Barnes

    Events in 1978

    01/02, Rhino Records releases its first album, Wild Man Fischer's "Wildmania."

    01/07, R.C., "Bloat On (Featuring The Bloaters)" by Cheech & Chong peaked at #41 on the pop singles chart.

    01/07, Johnny Paycheck hit number one with "Take This Job And Shove It". Paycheck joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1997.

    01/24, Singer/songwriterr Randy Newman receives a gold record for his hit "Short People", which made it to #2 on the chart. Newman had angered many short people with the song, especially the line that stated, "short people got no reason to live." Newman claimed it was a subtle poke at prejudice.

    01/28, R.C., "Short People" by Randy Newman peaked at #2 on the pop singles chart.

    02/18, Chevy Chase becomes the first former "Not Ready for Prime Time Player" to return to "SNL" as host.

    02/24, NBC tries to milk some laughs from space adventure with the debut of "Quark." Richard Benjamin stars. The underrated sitcom's title, which starred Richard Benjamin, accurately described the low ratings it received.

    03/08, "The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy", Radio Series, Sci-fi by Douglas Adams, debuts.

    03/11, R.C., "Psycho Killer" by Talking Heads peaked at #92 on the pop singles chart, the Fools parodied that into "Psycho Chicken".

    03/13, Frank Zappa's album [23] ZAPPA IN NEW YORK was released including the tracks "T**ties & Beer" and "I'm The Slime"

    03/22, the Rutles' "All You Need is Cash" was shown on NBC-TV. Musical pseudo-documentary parody of the BEATLES airs on N-B-C. Its stars include MONTY PYTHON'S ERIC IDLE and ex-Beach Boy RICKY FATAAR with cameos by GEORGE HARRISON , PAUL SIMON and MICK and BIANCA JAGGAR.

    03/29, "Carol Burnett Show Finale", a 2-hr series wrapup of her 11-season series, aired on CBS. Aren't we glad we spent this time together?

    04/02, J.R. Ewing and the clan arrived at Southfork for the first time this night, when "Dallas" was seen on CBS-TV. It was supposed to be a five-week miniseries, but it lasted 13 more years after the brief run turned into a gusher in the ratings! Larry Hagman, formerly of "I Dream of Jeannie" fame, starred as J.R. (John Ross) Ewing. The show originally was broadcast on Sunday night, then moved to Saturday and later, Friday nights. The show became an enormously popular hit (thanks also in part to the beautiful women on the show) and was the talk of many people around the water cooler each Monday morning. The stunts over the years would include the famous cliffhanger "Who Shot J.R.?" and the whole-season-was-a-dream solution the make Bobby Ewing alive again.


    04/22, D.T. never watched Saturday Night Live...until this episode when Steve Martin and The Blues Brothers guested. Actually, he didn't stay up that late, but his TV classroom aired the show a week later in the morning as part of "homework", whatever that was at the time. Must have been a fun course.


    05/09, "Let's Get Small" album by Steve Martin was certified Platinum by the RIAA, a rarity in the comedy album genre.

    05/13, R.C., "Werewolves Of London" by Warren Zevon peaked at #21 on the pop singles chart.

    06/17, R.C., "Cheeseburger In Paradise" by Jimmy Buffett peaked at #32 on the pop singles chart.

    06/19, America's favorite lasagna-loving cat, Garfield, created by Jim Davis (not Jock Ewing of Dallas), first appeared in newspapers as a comic strip.

    06/30, Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols released his version of "My Way."

    07/00, "Weird Al" Yankovic records "Take Me Down" for the "SLO Grown" album.

    07/03, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the F.C.C. was within its authority to reprimand New York radio station WBAI-FM for broadcasting a George Carlin comedy routine titled "Filthy Words" or "The Seven Dirty Words You Cannot Say On Television."

    07/08, "Foul Play" starring Chevy Chase (Saturday Night Live) and Goldie Hawn (Laugh-In eternal cutie) premiered at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco.

    07/08, "Copacabana (At The Copa)", by Barry Manilow entered the Top 40 chart. Mark Jonathan Davis parodied it 19 years later into "Star Wars Cantina"

    07/28, "FOOD FIIIIGHT!" That's the battle cry from Bluto Blutarski as "National Lampoon's Animal House" opened in movie theaters and went on to become the highest grossing comedy of its time, launching "Saturday Night Live" cast member John Belushi into superstardom.

    07/29, on the cover of TV Guide: "cast of Saturday Night Live". Other Articles: Rock Music and TV, S.Donaldson

    08/12, R.C., "King Tut" by Steve Martin peaked at #17 on the pop singles chart.

    08/23, "King Tut" single by Steve Martin was certified Gold by the RIAA

    08/24, Barnes and Barnes (Bill Mumy and Robert Haymer) recorded the all-time demented classic "Fish Heads."

    09/02, R.C., "Macho Man" by Village People peaked at #25 on the pop singles chart.

    09/12, "Taxi", TV Comedy, debut on ABC. It starred Judd Hirsch, Tony Danza, Andy Kaufman, Danny DeVito, Marilu Henner, Christopher Lloyd, and a host of other cabbies.It lasted through 1982 on ABC, which lost its' brain with insipid programming cancellations and idiotic moves that made ABC flounder for years, while NBC picked up viewers with quality programming under the late Brandon Tartikoff, whose network picked up Taxi for its fifth and final season.Danny Devito in "Saturday Night Live" did a mock sketch in which he answer's ABC's cancellation of Taxi with Danny turning on a box and watching ABC's building implode onto itself!

    09/14, the first show of the TV series, "Mork & Mindy", starring the irrepressible manic new talent Robin Williams as Mork the Orkan and actress, Pam Dawber as Mindy, aired this night on ABC-TV. Mork had made an earlier (February, 1978) appearance -- landing on earth during an episode of "Happy Days". Na nu, na nu.

    09/16, Filming on Monty Python's Life of Brian, begins.

    09/18, "W.K.R.P. In Cincinnati", TV Comedy about the craziest station in the nation, debut on CBS. Made household names out of Johnny Fever, Loni Anderson, and the infamous Thanksgiving Turkey Drop. Howard Hesseman, Tim Reid and Loni Anderson prove that you can have a face for radio and still make it on TV! On the debut, the station is losing $100,000 a year so the new program director, Andy Travis, decides to shake things up, freaking out the station's older listeners and owner Momma Carlson with a new format -- rock 'n' roll.

    09/23, R.C., "Paradise By The Dashboard Light" by Meat Loaf peaked at #39 on the pop singles chart; clocking in at seven minutes and 55 seconds, it was the longest-playing record to ever hit the Billbaord Hot 100 chart and held that honor until Cathy Dennis's "Everybody Move" (8:09) hit the chart in 1991. "Stairway to Heaven" was never a pop single (45), only an album track. "American Pie" was issued as a two-sided 45, parts 1 & II. Neither side was over 7 minutes.

    10/02, "Jeopardy!", TV Game Show, returned to NBC with host Art Fleming.

    10/14, GI Part 1: Movie: "Rescue from Gilligan's Island". When a decaying Russian satellite crashes on the island, the Professor uses a key component for a barometer. With that device, he learns that a massive wave is going to swamp the island. In desperation, the castaways lash their huts together into one structure in order to have any chance to ride the disaster out. The wave strikes the island and the hut is swept out to sea. Once there, Gilligan accidents starts a fire trying to cook a meal and nearly burns the floating hut down. Occupied with stopping the fire, the gang fails to notice that the smoke caught the attention of a naval helicopter who summoned a ship to rescue the castaways. In triumph, they return to Hawaii, only to learn that things have changed over the years and they will have trouble fitting in. To further complicate matters, two Russian spies are after that key component that Gilligan now wears as a necklace.

    10/14, GI Part 2: At the end the castaways plan a reunion trip back to Gilligan's Island, and wouldn't you know it, they get stranded again.

    10/14, R.C., "Louie Louie" by John Belushi peaked at #89 on the pop singles chart. It was from the movie "Animal House".

    10/21, on "Saturday Night Live," Connie Conehead's date arrives, and it's host Frank Zappa, who has a hard time not laughing his way through the sketch.

    11/01, "A Wild & Crazy Guy" album by Steve Martin was certified Gold by the RIAA


    11/18, Mickey Mouse is given a gold star on Hollywood Boulevard's Walk of Fame, the first cartoon character to be so honored. A commemorative plaque is installed at the Broadway Theater in New York, marking the 50th anniversary of the premiere of the film, "Steamboat Willie".

    11/21, "A Wild & Crazy Guy" album by Steve Martin was certified Platinum by the RIAA

    11/24, David Letterman makes the first of 27 appearances performing standup comedy on the "Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson." Says Letterman of his performance: "I did it and it worked beyond my wildest dreams, and I sat down and Johnny Carson is sitting right there and you're just talking and talking and praying to God it's over soon, and you're looking around and you're seeing stuff that you've seen on TV for years. And you can't let yourself think for a second, or you know, your head would explode, So you're talking and talking and talking and just praying, Oh please go to a commercial, please go to a goddamn commercial! And the next thing you know you're out of there and it's just, Holy Christ, I was on the 'Tonight' show".

    12/02, R.C., "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy" by Rod Stewart peaked at #1 on the U.K. pop singles chart; it was parodied the next year.

    12/09, actors John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd recorded a version of "Soul Man" and released it under the name The Blues Brothers.

    12/09, R.C., "Le Freak" by Chic peaked at #1 on the pop singles chart and stayed there for six non-consecutive weeks. It stayed there for one week, then Streisand and Diamond's "Flowers" record went back to the #1 slot the next week, after which "Freak Out" reclaimed the top spot for two more weeks, followed by a two week stay for the Bee Gees' "Too Much Heaven" Jan 6, then three more weeks at #1 for "Freak Out" from Jan 20 until it left the #1 spot for good when on Feb 10 Rod Stewart asked the question "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?" This belongs in the department of roller coaster records.

    12/16, R.C., "Le Freak" by Chic slipped to #2 while "You Don't Bring Me Flowers" returned to #1 for a week. See 12-23 for more.

    12/18, "Take This Job & Shove It" album by Johnny Paycheck was certified Gold by the RIAA

    12/18, "Y.M.C.A." single by Village People was certified Gold by the RIAA

    12/22, "Briefcase Full Of Blues" album by Blues Brothers was certified Gold by the RIAA

    12/23, R.C., "Le Freak" by Chic returned to the #1 spot for the second time this release and held it for two weeks.

    12/26, "Macho Man" album by Village People was certified Platinum by the RIAA

    12/30, a forty-foot giant inflatable pig being photographed for a Pink Floyd album cover breaks loose and floats away, wrecking havoc with London airspace.

    12/31, after 556 concerts, the Winterland Theater in San Francisco closed to rock concerts after a performance by the Grateful Dead and the Blues Brothers.

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