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1983: The Demented Year in Review

What a year 1983 was! 1983 was a wonderful year in terms of novelty music and subjects.

It was the time when Flashdancing was the rage, The Police were in Synchroncity, Heather Locklear was hot in TWO prime-time TV shows, Mr. T pitys the fool who doesn't watch "The A Team", the long-running series MASH ended after 11 seasons the same season that Cheers began their own 11 season run, Ronald Reagan was an actor who was a president of the country, adults were fighting over Cabbage Patch Kids, Michael Jackson was hot with his "Thriller" LP, "Return of the Jedi" and "Risky Business" packed them into theaters, and the new sound of rap music was getting a lot of attention.

1983 was the year "Weird Al" released his debut self-titled album, and last year's novelty hit made the cut on his album...

  • "I Love Rocky Road", by "Weird Al" Yankovic

  • "Lock The Snackbah", by Bobby Volare
  • "The Check's in the Mail", by "Weird Al" Yankovic
  • "Smoke Two Joints", by The Toyes
  • "Buffy Come Back", by Angel & The Reruns
  • "Rappin' Rodney", by Rodney Dangerfield getting No Respect as usual.
  • "Boogie in Your Butt", by Eddie Murphy (actually released in 1982)
  • "kroY weN ,kroY weN"...oops make that "New York, New York", by Bill Lanphier who took the Frank Sinatra tune, played it backwards, make a new recording singing and playing along with that backwards tape, then he turned the new recording around backwards and that's what came out: a forwards-tune that sounds backwards! You need a reel-to-reel machine to do that.
  • "Baa Baa Black Sheep", by The Singing Sheep from Engand off the CD "Dr. Demento Gooses Mother"
  • "Ricky", by "Weird Al" Yankovic off his debut album and his video was even seen on MTV when it was once a cool music video station a long time ago. Al has been performing for years with unreleased tapes, but the press wasn't informed that he was more than just an overnight sensation when his album came out.
  • "The Check's In The Mail", by "Weird Al" Yankovic
  • "Smoke Two Joints", by The Toyes, which was a hard-to-find single in 1983 and Dr. D still gets calls for it week after week after week. It finally showed up in 1996 as part of The Toyes very first CD. Now based in Oregon, they're now hard at work on their latest CD due out before the year is over.
  • "The Galaxy Song", by Monty Python (Eric Idle on vocal) from the movie "The Meaning of Life", the troupe's final feature film.

    Events in 1983

    01/02, Gary Trudeau took a 20-month break from writing his comic strip, "Doonesbury".

    01/08, "Not Necessarily The News", TV Variety, debut on HBO.

    01/15, R.C., "Down Under" by Men At Work peaked at #1 on the pop singles chart.

    01/22, R.C., "Rock The Casbah" by The Clash peaked at #8 on the pop singles chart. "Lock Up The Snackbar" was a parody of that song.

    01/22, much of the cast of "The Carol Burnett Show" reunites for the initial run of a sitcom based on one of their sketches, although it's Vicki Lawrence's show now as the head of "Mama's Family," following the success of a "Eunice" special in 1982. Lawrence has been asked about developing a show for "Thelma Crowley Harper," while still castmember of "The Carol Burnett Show," but she was not ready to leave her friends. NBC attempts to end the show after two seasons worth of episodes but the beast lumbers on for 100 more shows in syndication.

    01/22, The Steven Spielberg film, "E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial", became the top movie moneymaker this day; maintaining that position until being replaced by another Spielberg hit, "Jurassic Park", in 1993. In less than a year, "E.T.", the modern day, fairy tale, brought in $194 million in video rentals; replacing the previously #1 rented film, "Star Wars".

    01/22, R.C., "Feet Don't Fail Me Now" by Utopia peaked at #82 on the pop singles chart.

    01/23, A weekly thrill ride of "Mad Max"-style action! One of television's most intellectual, sophisticated and classy shows came into American homes this night. It was full of action and drama and starred some guy named, Mr. T., as the not so mild-mannered, Sgt. Bosco B.A. Baracus and George Peppard as John Hannibal Smith. Remember "The A-Team", the TV Adventure on NBC? Sure you do. It was Must See TV back then? You don't believe me? You'd better, or Mr. T. will rip your face off, fool!

    01/25, Rubio's Fish Tacos opens in San Diego. Rubio is the fish head around there. Eat it up. Yum!

    01/28, the first commercial radio station to air a CD was WDHA of Dover, New Jersey. It was the beginning of the end of the 45.

    01/29, "Saturday Night Live's" Eddie Murphy asks viewers to send in letters asking Ronald Reagan to support a holiday for Martin Luther King, Jr.

    01/29, The McKenzie Brothers (Rick Moranis & Dave Thomas) leave "the Great White North" of "SCTV" for a day to tour New York City and host "Saturday Night Live."

    01/29, R.C., "Down Under" by Men At Work peaked at #1 on the U.K. pop singles chart; that single was also at #1 on the U.S. singles chart and that act's album "Business As Usual" was at the #1 position on the album chart in both countries. Men at Work was the first act since Rod Stewart in 1971 to acheive this feat.

    01/29, R.C., "Shock The Monkey" by Peter Gabriel peaked at #29 on the pop singles chart.

    02/11, "Weird Al" Yankovic recorded "Ricky" and "Buckingham Blues" for his debut LP.

    02/12, "Mr. Roboto" by Styx entered the Top 40 chart.

    02/14, Barrett Hansen married Sue

    02/19, R.C., "The Clapping Song" by Pia Zadora peaked at #36 on the pop singles chart.

    02/25, "Down Under" single by Men At Work was certified Gold by the RIAA

    02/26, R.C., "Pass The Dutchie" by Musical Youth peaked at #10 on the pop singles chart.

    02/28, "The Final Episode of M*A*S*H" Betraying mixed emotions, Hawkeye (Alan Alda) gazes for the last time at the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital as his chopper rises in the air. Then, in the distance, he spies a giant "good-bye" etched in the dust by his departing buddy B.J. Hunnicut (Mike Farrell) on his trademark yellow motorcycle. So ended the Korean War adventures of our favorite medical unit after 11 critically lauded and audience-grabbing years (eight years more than the actual war lasted). M*A*S*H mania ruled the country on the night the 21/2-hour series finale aired, and the episode set a Nielsen ratings record that has yet to be beaten. WITNESS: Jamie Farr, who played cross-dresser Klinger, recalls: "On our final day of shooting, the cast had a private lunch where we expressed our fondness for one another. I think the respect we had for each other showed on camera."

    03/00, Frank Zappa's album [34] THE MAN FROM UTOPIA was released including the track "Cocaine Decisions"

    03/02, the compact disc and the laser-beamed player to play the CDs were introduced in Britian. Sony, Philips, and Polygram introduced them.

    03/05, R.C., "Shoppin' From A To Z" by Toni Basil peaked at #77 on the pop singles chart.

    03/05, R.C., "It's Raining Men" by Weather Girls peaked at #46 on the pop singles chart. You hear it at the beginning of those "Men On..." sketches on "In Living Color".

    03/07, "Mickey" single by Toni Basil was certified Platinum by the RIAA

    03/07, "Word Of Mouth" album by Toni Basil was certified Gold by the RIAA

    03/07, D.T. bought the videogame system ColecoVision, which claimed to make obsolence obsolete. It too is obsolete.

    03/19, "Still The Beaver" movie aired. Jerry Mathers is "Still The Beaver." And June has bad news for the boys, who both happen to be back in town for this CBS reunion movie. While Wally and his wife Mary Ellen are busy having shady building contractor Eddie Haskell create their new home, Mom's considering selling the old homestead. (Golly Mom, you can't do that!) Eventually the Beav does persuade her to sell -- to him. All the better for the divorced Beav to raise his sons, Oliver and Corey ... Feldman. The reunion's a success and leads to a Disney/TBS series "The New Leave it to Beaver," which runs 105 episodes.

    03/19, "She Blinded Me With Science" by Thomas Dolby entered the Top 40 chart.

    03/21, Only known typo on Time Magazine cover (control=contol), all recalled.

    03/23, U.S. President Ronald Reagan announced plans for a new space-based defense system later dubbed "Star Wars." Frank Zappa says "Star Wars won't work...it is a piece of s---" in one of his recordings.

    04/00, "Weird Al" Yankovic released his debut LP featuring the hits "Ricky", "My Bologna (remake)", "I Love Rocky Road", and "I'll Be Mellow When I'm Dead".

    04/09, Joan Rivers and impersonator Joe Piscopo engage in a joke-telling contest on "Saturday Night Live" to determine once and for all just who is the "real" Joan Rivers.

    04/13, "The Alexis and Krystle Catfight" Alexis (Joan Collins) always likes to go for the soft underbelly. So when she sees Krystle (Linda Evans) sitting placidly and prettily by the lily pond, she starts needling the current Mrs. Carrington mercilessly about her inability to conceive. Now the gloves are off. "You miserable bitch," cries Krystle, diving at her tormentor. They plunge into the pond and start waling on each other, wet hair, soggy silk and all. When Alexis tries to escape, Krystle says, "Oh, no, you don't," and cracks her one right on the kisser.

    04/16, R.C., "Mr. Roboto" by Styx peaked at #3 on the pop singles chart.

    04/29, Dan Aykroyd wed Donna Dixon

    04/30, R.C., "Der Kommissar" by After The Fire peaked at #5 on the pop singles chart. Doesn't the "don't turn around" lyrical part of it remind you of Rick James' "Superfreak"?

    04/30, R.C., "I Eat Cannibals" by Total Coelo peaked at #66 on the pop singles chart.

    04/30, R.C., "Mexican Radio" by Wall Of Voodoo peaked at #58 on the pop singles chart.

    04/30, R.C., "Beat It" by Michael Jackson with Eddie Van Halen playing lead guitar peaked at #1 on the pop singles chart; "Weird Al" parodied it into "Eat It"

    05/03, "Ricky" is released off Weird Al Yankovic's first debut self-titled LP "Weird Al" Yankovic. The song is a parody of Toni Basil's sole hit "Mickey" Satarizing the I Love Lucy TV show, the video became an MTV favorite.

    05/06, "Weird Al" Yankovic gave a live performance at The Spirit in San Diego CA.

    05/07, R.C., "Jeopardy" by Greg Kihn Band peaked at #2 on the pop singles chart, a song that originally had nothing to do with the game show until "Weird Al" parodied that into "I Lost On Jeopardy"

    05/14, R.C., "She Blinded Me With Science" by Thomas Dolby peaked at #5 on the pop singles chart.

    05/16, "Mr. Roboto" single by Styx was certified Gold by the RIAA

    05/19, "Weird Al" Yankovic gave a live performance at the Wax Museum in Washington DC, officially marking the beginning day of his first official tour. A "27" coincidence of note: on this day nine years later, the 27th Amendment to the Constitution, which prohibits Congress from giving itself midterm pay raises, went into effect.

    05/21, R.C., "Bang The Drum All Day" by Todd Rundgren peaked at #63 on the pop singles chart.

    05/25, "The Return of the Jedi", the third and final part of the second triology of "Star Wars" (hence Part VI), opened in movie theaters in the USA. "Jedi" topped all previous opening day box office records with a gross of $6,219,629. It opened on 1,002 screens around the U.S.

    05/28, leaving his mailroom job, Weird Al Yankovic moved to the Hollywood Hills and became "Weird" full time.

    05/28, R.C., "Ricky" by "Weird Al" Yankovic peaked at #63 on the pop singles chart; it was a parody of Toni Basil's "Mickey"

    06/01, "Return Of The Jedi" single by Various was released

    06/11, R.C., "Theme From Doctor Detroit" by Devo peaked at #59 on the pop singles chart.

    06/25, R.C., "Weird Al" Yankovic's debut album "'Weird Al' Yankovic" peaked at #139 on the Billboard album chart

    07/05, ABC presents "The 1/2 Hour Comedy Hour" with sight gags, punchlines and sketch comedy from hosts Arsenio Hall and Tom Sharp, fast talker "Mighty Mouth" John Moschitta and future Saturday Night Live regulars Victoria Jackson and Jan Hooks. It's cancelled as of its August 9th episode, lasting almost as long as a 16-year-old's first job at Taco Bell.

    07/20, "Taxi", TV Comedy; last aired on NBC.

    07/23, R.C., "1999" by Prince peaked at #12 on the pop singles chart.

    07/30, R.C., "Ewok Celebration" by Meco peaked at #60 on the pop singles chart.

    07/30, "The Safety Dance", by Men Without Hats entered the Top 40 chart.

    08/01, "Return Of The Jedi" single by Various was certified Gold by the RIAA

    08/06, R.C., "Weird Al" Yankovic's single "I Love Rocky Road" peaked at #106 on the Billboard pop singles chart

    08/10, music industry marketing figures showed that U.S. audiocassette sales had surpassed vinyl record sales.

    08/13, R.C., "Shiny Shiny" by Haysi Fantayzee peaked at #74 on the pop singles chart.

    09/03, R.C., "Puttin' On The Ritz" by Taco peaked at #4 on the pop singles chart.

    09/10, R.C., "The Safety Dance" by Men Without Hats peaked at #3 on the pop singles chart; "Weird Al" parodied it into "The Brady Bunch" the next year; the video featured midgets.

    09/17, "Alvin & The Chipmunks", TV Cartoon Show, sequel to Alvin Show; debut on NBC.

    10/01, "Weird Al" Yankovic records the first songs for his his 3-D LP "Nature Trail To Hell", "That Boy Could Dance", "Mr. Popeil", "Midnight Star", and "Gonna Buy Me A Condo".

    10/08, R.C., "King Of Pain" by The Police peaked at #3 on the pop singles chart; "Weird Al" parodied it into "King Of Suede".

    10/22, R.C., "Dr. Heckyll & Mr. Jive" by Men At Work peaked at #28 on the pop singles chart.

    11/08, "Puttin' On The Ritz" single by Taco was certified Gold by the RIAA. Yo quiero mas Taco Musica!

    11/21, Michael Jackson's award-winning 14-minute video for Thriller, which cost over $1,000,000 to produce, premiered in Los Angeles.

    12/02, MTV aired the full-length Michael Jackson "Thriller" video for the first time.

    12/12, "Weird Al" Yankovic recorded more songs for his 3-D LP "Theme From Rocky XIII", "I Lost On Jeopardy", "The Brady Bunch", "Eat It", "King Of Suede", and "Polkas on 45".

    12/13, Penn & Teller levitate Alan Thicke on "Thicke of the Night."

    12/15, "Automan" makes its debut on ABC, starring Desi Arnaz Jr. as a geeky police officer who creates a computerized alter ego that can walk through walls, protect his creator from gunfire, and of course network with other machines in times of need. This credulity-straining series is deleted in April.

    12/24, R.C., "Major Tom (Coming Home)" by Peter Schilling peaked at #14 on the pop singles chart. It was parodied into "Major Con" about a cow in space.

    12/28, the "Making Michael Jackson's 'Thriller"' video was certified gold AND platinum. It was the first music video to reach either sales plateau. After that, there was also the release of "The Making of 'The Making of Michael Jackson's Thriller'", followed by "The Making of The Making of 'The Making of Michael Jackson's Thriller'" and so forth and so on (joke).

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