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1979: The Demented Year in Review

What a year 1979 was! 1979 was a wonderful year in terms of novelty music and subjects.

It was the year we had another energy crisis, Iraq took 52 Americans hostage for 444 days, a movie about a nuclear meltdown was shown weeks before the same thing almost happened at Three Mile Island, also in the movies Kramer battled Kramer in court, the original cast of Star Trek made a motion picture, and a TV reality series showing people doing amazing things, "Real People", premiered on NBC. It was also the year Disco was given the death sentence as Steve Dahl staged a disco record blowout at a baseball stadium, which may have helped hasten the demise of the silly rhythm beat, paving the way for the country music craze the following year.

In December 1, 1979, Weird Al paid a visit to the Dr. Demento show and sang this classic song live, recorded at the KMET radio station just weeks earlier on Nov 11.

  • "My Bologna (live in studio from show #79-48 Dec 1, 1979)", by "Weird Al" Yankovic, and you can find this cut on the 1999 Demento Society CD

    One of the more unwelcome news stories of 1979 was a replay of the 1974 energy crisis, and like the previous crisis, we were able to find some humor along those long gas lines. This British group made the American charts by doing a parody of the Supertramp song "The Logical Song". They Americanized the lyrics slightly, changing the word "petro puse" into gas lines

  • "The Topical Song", by The Barron Knights.

    This song is from 1979's most controversal comedy movie "Monty Python's The Life of Brian".

  • "Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life", by Monty Python. Eric Idle sang this song during the crucifixtion scene of the film

    and in the background we hear that Herb Alpert discoized jazz thing "Rise"

    the energy crisis was the #1 comedy song topic of 1979, the second most popual comedy song topic was, DISCO!

  • "Dancin' Fool", by Frank Zappa from his LP "Sheik Yerbouty" and from the "Dr. Demento 20th Anniversary Collection"

    and in the background we hear that noise. That is a record called "Music Box Dancer" by Frank Mills and it became a Top Ten single in 1979, some five years after it was made, and there is an ice cream truck that plays that melody that comes by our house at least twice a day during the summertime and I'M NOT GOING TO HAVE ANY MORE OF THIS ON MY RADIO PROGRAM!

    (Dr. Demento pulls the plug on the record and it slows down)

    Thank you. In 1979, two very demented Christmas songs made their debuts in 1979. One was the now classic "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" by Elmo and Patsy, and Dr. Demento was one of the first to play that one on the air. This other 1979 demented Christmas ditty isn't nearly as known in middle America, but a definite classic in the land of Dementia!

  • "Frosty The Dope Man", by Marc Zydiak

    Events in 1979

    01/00, "Benny Hill Show", TV Comedy, imported from Thames U.K., debut on U.S. TV.

    01/01, Following a New Years Eve concert that began the night before featuring the Blues Brothers and the Grateful Dead, Bill Graham closes San Francisco's Winterland Theater. The Dead had performed there a record 48 times.

    01/05, The Blues Brothers-known better as "Saturday Night Live" players Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi, ruffle some feathers with their tongue-in-cheek renderings of classic soul songs. However, their biggest supporters are the covered artists themselves. The Blues Brothers album, "Briefcase of Blues" goes to Number One and goes platinum certified by the RIAA on this date and give the Sam and Dave song, "Soul Man," a new life.

    01/06, R.C., "YMCA" by the Village People peaked at #1 on the U.K. pop singles chart.

    01/09, K-Mart Department stores pulled Steve Martin's comedy album "Let's Get Small" off their record shelves for being in "very bad taste," something with which the polyester-ridden retailer is quite familiar. "Well, EXCUUUUUSE MEEEEEEE!!!!" K-Mart sucks!

    01/20, R.C., "Le Freak" by Chic returned to the #1 spot for the third and final time this release and held it for three more weeks for a total of six non-consecutive weeks at #1.

    01/25, "Y.M.C.A." single by Village People was certified Platinum by the RIAA

    01/26, "The Dukes Of Hazzard", TV Adventure; debut on CBS. Yee-Haa! Tom Wopat, John Schneider and Catherine Bach star (Yup, David Tanny watched the show, got a problem with that?). In the pilot episode, "One Armed Bandit," them Duke boys (Lukas and Beauregard) hijack Boss Hogg's shipment of illegal slot machines.

    01/27, R.C., "Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick" by Ian Dury peaked at #1 on the U.K. pop singles chart.

    02/03, R.C., "Y.M.C.A." by Village People peaked at #2 on the pop singles chart.

    02/03, the #1 SELLING ALBUM was "BRIEFCASE FULL OF BLUES" from the BLUES BROTHERS featuring the hit cover "SOUL MAN"

    02/09, K-Mart pulled Steve Martin's comedy album "Let's Get Small" for being in bad taste. K-Mart sucks.

    02/10, R.C., "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?" by Rod Stewart peaked at #1 on the pop singles chart; Steve Dahl turned it into a parody "Do Ya Think I'm Disco".

    02/11, 43 million watch "Elvis!" on ABC.

    02/17, R.C., "Soul Man" by Blues Brothers peaked at #14 on the pop singles chart.

    02/17, TV'S "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE" Musical Guests: RICK NELSON ("HELLO MARY LOU", "TRAVELLIN' MAN", "FOOLS RUSH IN", "DREAM LOVER"); JUDY COLLINS ("HARD TIMES FOR LOVERS"). Also, the Twilight Zone spoof had Ricky Nelson trying to get back home, but he got lost and ended up traveling from one 50's-era TV show to another.

    02/22, on the cover of Rolling Stone: The Blues Brothers

    02/24, R.C., "Fire" by Pointer Sisters peaked at #2 on the pop singles chart. It was parodied into "Elmer Fudd Sings Bruce Springsteen" by Robin Williams doing "Fire".

    02/28, Bamboo Harvester, better known as "Mister Ed" the talking horse, dies at the age of 33. A corpse is a corpse, of course, of course (GROAN!)

    03/03, Frank Zappa's album [26] SHEIK YERBOUTI was released including the tracks "Bobby Brown", "The Sheik Yerbouti Tango", "Baby Snakes", "Dancin' Fool", "Wild Love" and "Yo' Mama"

    03/15, "In The Navy" single by Village People was certified Gold by the RIAA

    03/28, America's worst commercial nuclear disaster occurred inside the Unit Two reactor at the Three Mile Island plant near Middletown, Pa, as a series of human and mechanical failures caused the cooling system to malfunction, resulting in damage to the reactor's core and the leakage of radioactivty into the atmosphere. Residents are forced to evacuate after a nuclear meltdown.

    03/29, "Music Box Dancer" single by Frank Mills was certified Gold by the RIAA. It's that blasted song that you hear on ice cream trucks nowadays instead of the one I can hear only on one of the Flintstones cartoon episodes where Fred and Barney battle each other over their children involved in the Most Beautiful Baby contest between Pebbles and Bamm Bamm. Let's get rid of that blasted song and bring back the tune I heard on The Flintstones! The opinions expressed in the Datebooks do not necessairily reflect the opinions of the webserver or its sponsors.

    04/01, "Nickelodeon Network" (originally called "Pinwheel") cable TV network debut. They would later bring us Ren and Stimpy, You Can't Do That On Television, Clarissa Explains It All, Rugrats, and other children's shows presented in a way the other networks are not airing.

    04/07, R.C., "Rubber Biscuit" by Blues Brothers peaked at #37 on the pop singles chart.

    04/11, Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, the most amazing man that you've ever seen, was deposed as president as rebels and exiles backed by Tanzanian forces took control of the capital city of Kampala.

    04/18, "Real People", TV Magazine; debut on NBC. Having lost too many important news stories to the National Enquirer and Weekly World News, NBC launches a serious newsmagazine dedicated to frivolity. From yard sales and hollerin' contests, to misspelled billboards and the "world's biggest" anything, "Real People" delivers the hard news middle America has yearned to see, inadvertently providing a career for Byron Allen.

    04/21, R.C., "I Need Your Help Barry Manilow" by Ray Stevens peaked at #49 on the pop singles chart.

    05/03, Movie: "The Castaways from Gilligan's Island". Stuck on the same island as before, the castaways find an abandoned World War II bomber that the Professor is able to repair and fly. However, in the attempt to fly to Hawaii, Gilligan falls out and has to parachute down to the island. Against their better judgement, the gang decides to return the island to get him. Unfortunately, the engines collapse after they land, which means that Gilligan had screwed up yet another escape attempt. Their despair is quickly dispelled when a U.S. Navy captain appears saying that their plane was detected on radar long enough for them to follow it to the island. A year later, the island is now a tropical resort spot fully linked to Civilization, and the castaways work as the staff of a kind of island Love Boat as they work to entertain the various guests they receive.

    05/19, R.C., "In The Navy" by Village People peaked at #3 on the pop singles chart.

    05/19, The Bellamy Brothers topped the charts with "If I Said You Had a Beautiful Body, Would You Hold It Against Me"

    05/26, John Belushi & Dan Aykroyd make their final appearances as regular cast members of "Saturday Night Live." While they plan to appear in feature-length comedies, they instead wind up later that year in Steven Spielberg's big-budget cult bomb "1941." Well, at least the beautiful Dianne Kay was worth the movie ticket alone! (Possible bias: D.T. saw Dianne Kay of Eight is Enough in a Mother Goose Parade float the month of the movie release in November 1979; yet another bias: D.T. authors eightisenough.com and a small SNL page.)

    05/26, R.C., "Dancin' Fool" by Frank Zappa peaked at #45 on the pop singles chart.

    06/15, "Get The Knack" album by The Knack was released

    06/16, R.C., "The Logical Song" by Supertramp peaked at #6 on the pop singles chart; The Barron Knights parodied it into "The Topical Song" about the gasoline shortage of 1979.

    06/23, the rock group the Knack released "My Sharona"

    06/29, the San Diego Chicken was reborn at the Jack Murphy Stadium after being let go from radio station KGB over differences. KGB brought in a new person in a KGB chicken costume in a Padre ball game after Ted quit, but the audience booed and hissed the impostor Chicken.

    07/00, "Weird Al" Yankovic records "My Bologna" single.

    07/01, Walkman Introduced By Sony.

    07/06, "The B-52's" album by B-52's was released

    07/06, Composer, arranger and producer Van McCoy dies of a heart attack. His biggest mark in the music biz was "The Hustle". It turned out to be the biggest dance-craze record of the decade. He was 38.

    07/11, "Get The Knack" album by The Knack was certified Gold by the RIAA

    07/11, the abandoned U.S. space station Skylab, orbiting the Earth since 1973, made a spectacular return to Earth, burning up in the atmosphere and showering debris over the Indian Ocean and Australia.

    07/12, "Disco Demolition Night" was staged by disk jockey Steve Dahl at Chicago's Comiskey Park between games of a baseball doubleheader, where a big pile of unwanted vinyl disco records got burned up. Led by the chant, "Disco Sucks!", most of the records weren't burned, but sailed through the stands DURING the game -- nearly inciting a riot. Some fans went wild and started their own fires and mini-riots. There was so much commotion that the ballplayers couldn't even finish the last game of the doubleheader; the White Sox forfeited the second game of a doubleheader to the Detroit Tigers. The next day, newspapers and one of the sponsoring DJ's, Steve Dahl, called the unruly crowd, "a bunch of animals." Duh! Disco died, at least for awhile, and the crowd probably thought they killed it.

    07/13, American League president Lee MacPhail awarded the Detroit Tigers a 9-0 forfeit because of the aftermath of Chicago's Disco Demolition Night. Between games of a doubleheader, 5,000 to 7,000 fans refused to leave the field.

    07/14, R.C., "If I Said You Have A Beautiful Body, Would You Hold It Against Me?" by Bellamy Brothers peaked at #39 on the pop singles chart. Strange title for a song.

    07/14, R.C., "If I Seem To Be Getting Smaller, It's Because I'm Leaving You", by David Tanny peaked nowhere because this is just a joke entry in this datebook.

    07/16, Saddam Hussein became President of Iraq. Insane Hussein would later take over Kuwait in 1990, declare the United States of America "the Great Satan" (ha!), and become the butt of many late-night talk show monologues.

    07/20, Electric Light Orchestra takes out advertisements dedicating the release of their single "Don't Bring Me Down" to Skylab. Pretty bad joke.

    07/21, "The Devil Went Down To Georgia", by Charlie Daniels entered the Top 40 chart.

    07/21, "My Sharona", by Knack entered the Top 40 chart.

    07/23, the Ayatollah outlawed rock and roll music following the revolution in Iran that helped install him as the leader. He demanded no traces of Western civilization in his country.

    07/27, Alice Cooper's Indian art store in Scottsdale, Arizona is hit by a firebomb. Gone are $200,000 worth of artifacts and some of Cooper's gold records, which were stored in the back. Cooper said maybe a "disco-music freak" was to blame, because he had been making some "anti-disco remarks."

    08/01, "Reality...what A Concept" album by Robin Williams was certified Gold by the RIAA

    08/02, "Gilda Radner: Live From New York" opens on Broadway, featuring some of Radner's more famous characters - Lisa Loopner, Emily Litella, and Roseanne Roseannadanna, as well as the classic children's tune "Let's Talk Dirty To The Animals," which got plenty of airplay from The Dr. Demento radio show, with the bleeps.

    08/03, "Get The Knack" album by The Knack was certified Platinum by the RIAA

    08/16, "My Sharona" single by The Knack was certified Gold by the RIAA

    08/17, Monty Python's "Life of Brian" premieres.

    08/21, "The Devil Went Down To Georgia" single by Charlie Daniels Band was certified Gold by the RIAA. In 1998, Travis Meyer parodied that song into "The Devil Went Down to Jamaica"

    08/25, "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" by the Charlie Daniels Band reached number one on the country chart.

    08/25, "Pop Muzik", by M entered the Top 40 chart.

    08/25, Gary Numan's "Cars" is released.

    08/25, R.C., "My Sharona" by The Knack peaked at #1 on the pop singles chart and stayed there for five weeks; it was parodied by "Weird Al" Yankovic into "My Bologna", John Mammoser's "Nine Coronas", and Steve Dahl's "Ayatollah".

    08/30, President Carter was attacked by a rabbit on a canoe trip in Plains Ga. What's up, doc?

    09/01, LA Court orders Clayton Moore to stop wearing Lone Ranger mask.

    09/01, R.C., "The Topical Song" by The Barron Knights peaked at #70 on the pop singles chart; it was a parody of Supertramp's "Logical Song" and the Kights used the melody to document the 1979 gasoline shortage,.

    09/07, the cable channel Entertainment and Sports Programming Network, ESPN, was launched as the nation's first all-sports channel. It's a sports fan's dream come true. It later brought us Australian Rules Football, the X Games, and spinoff network ESPN 2, bought the Classic Sports Network (aka ESPN 3), and is reportedly interested in purchasing The Golf Channel and to dub it...ready?...ESPN Fore!

    09/07, Gary Numan releases his LP "The Pleasure Principle," which features the track, "Cars."

    09/15, R.C., "The Devil Went Down To Georgia" by The Charlie Daniels Band peaked at #3 on the pop singles chart. Not demented, but great violin work beating the devil. In 1998, a parody of the song, "The Devil Went To Jamaica", was released.

    09/16, Rap, The New York City ghetto music in which the performers chant rhymed and rhythmical verses over prerecorded instrumental dance tracks, makes it onto vinyl with the release of the Sugar Hill Gang's "Rapper's Delight." Sylvia Robinson (formerly of Mickey & Sylvia) formed the company to produce rap records despite industry warnings that rap had no commercial appeal. "Rappers Delight" was recorded over the instrumental break from Chic's "Good Times." The single becomes a disco smash sellling two million copies in the U.S. It sampled a melody of Chic's "Good Times", looped it endlessly, rhymed a story over it, and VOILA! Instant record.

    09/17, Frank Zappa's album [28] JOE'S CARAGE, act 1 (acts 1-3) was released.

    09/22, R.C., "Cars" by Gary Numan peaked at #1 on the U.K. pop singles chart.

    09/24, CompuServe Information System began operation as the world's first public computer information service. Can't touch that, MSN!

    09/25, "Taxi" "Reverend Jim" Ignatowski, a remnant of the '60s who's eaten one magic mushroom too many, is sitting at the bar in Mario's. Bobby (Jeff Conaway) comes up to him and says, "Hey, Jim, my friends and I were wondering if you'd like to come over and join us." Jim replies, "What did you decide?" "Reverend Jim: Space Odyssey" is a rolling snowball of laughs. First the cabbies have to persuade Louie DePalma (Danny DeVito) to take Jim on. Louie takes one look at the wild-eyed ex-hippie and says, "Get him outta here!" But Jim slips a tranquilizer into Louie's coffee, and the pint-size tyrant of Sunshine Cab Co. is soon crooning, "We were sailing along…on Moonlight Bay.…" Reverend Jim is in. All he has to do now is take a driver's test. He sits down, reads the first question, knits his brow, and whispers to the waiting cabbies, "What does a yellow light mean?" "Slow down!" Bobby whispers back. "OK," says Jim, "what...does...a...yellow...light...mean?"

    10/06, R.C., "Beautiful Girls" by Van Halen peaked at #84 on the pop singles chart. Eddie married one, Valerie Bertinelli, two years later.

    10/13, R.C., "Do You Think I'm Disco?" by Steve Dahl peaked at #58 on the pop singles chart.

    10/19, the Beatles' "Rarities" album was released in the U.K. Among the cuts were the novelty song "You Know My Name, Look Up The Number."

    10/20, R.C., "Video Killed The Radio Star" by the Buggles peaked at #1 on the U.K. pop singles chart.

    10/23, Monty Python's Life of Brian opens in movie theaters.

    11/00, "Weird Al" Yankovic's first major novelty hit, "My Bologna", a parody of the Knack's "My Sharona", was first played on the Dr. Demento Show (Nov 4th?, 11th?, 18th). It was recorded in San Luis Obispo using the California Polytechnic State University radio station equipment, but Al found a microphone whose cord was long enough to reach back to the tiled men's room across the hall where he recorded it; Al thought the acoustics would make a perfect recording studio for his song. It was put out as a single on Capitol Records with "School Cafeteria" as the "B" side.

    11/03, R.C., "Pop Muzik" by M peaked at #1 on the pop singles chart.

    11/04, the Iranian hostage crisis began as militants stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. Although some of the hostages were freed several weeks later, for 52 others, it was the start of 444 days in captivity. This also was the inspiration of Nightline that was evolved from ABC News' nightly "Day x: America Held Hostage" updates.

    11/13, former California Governor Ronald Reagan announced in New York his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination.

    11/17, R.C., "I Do The Rock" by Tim Curry peaked at #91 on the pop singles chart.

    11/19, Frank Zappa's album [29] JOE'S CARAGE, acts 2 & 3 was released.

    11/24, R.C., "Rainbow Connection" by Kermit The Frog (Jim Henson) peaked at #25 on the pop singles chart.

    12/05, "Pop Muzik" single by M was certified Gold by the RIAA

    12/07, "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" opened in theaters in the USA. The sci-fi franchise's cinematic debut will gross a record 17 million in its first week of release.

    12/08, R.C., "Walking On The Moon" by The Police peaked at #1 on the U.K. pop singles chart.

    12/14, "The Jerk" starring Steve Martin and Bernadette Peters opened in movie theaters across the USA.

    12/15, R.C., "Video Killed The Radio Star" by The Buggles peaked at #40 on the pop singles chart.

    12/15, R.C., "Cruel Shoes" by Steve Martin peaked at #91 on the pop singles chart.

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