And here it is! The Demento Society News.
The Demento Society News will be sent to Society Members and Dr. Demento radio affiliates four times each year. Each issue will be full of stories about the Doctor and the songs and artists heard on the Dr. Demento Show, plus a question-and-answer column, a crossword puzzle and more fun features and information.
We welcome contributions and letters from our readers! Our address is Demento Society News, P.O Box 884, Culver City, CA 90230.
Rhino Records Releases 6-Album Set From Dr. Demento
With these six albums, available individually or together as a deluxe, numbered and signed boxed set personally signed by Dr. Demento, there finally exists a definitive collection of Demented Discs.
Among the artists included in this first-of-its-kind anthology are Spike Jones, Barnes & Barnes, Cheech & Chong, Jimmy Durante, Tom Lehrer, Ogden Edsl, Groucho Marx, Bobby "Boris" Pickett, Allan Sherman, Ray Stevens, Steve Martin, The Three Stooges and "Weird Al" Yankovic.
Five of the albums focus on particular decades of Dementia: the 1980s, the 1970s, the 1960s, the 1950s and the 1940s (with a few pre-1940 tracks on the latter disc). The sixth album features classic Christmas novelties such as "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer," "I Want A Hippopotamus for Christmas," "A Christmas Carol," and "Santa Claus and His Old Lady."
Each of the albums contains liner notes by Dr. Demento. In addition, the deluxe boxed set of six contains a full-color poster and a special collector's booklet with numerous photos of the artists and additional, extensive notes by Doctor D.
The good Doctor has spared no effort to ensure that this is the greatest and most significant collection of musical humor on records ever released. According to the Doctor, "previous anthologies of novelty music have been highly irregular in quality, while this package has been lovingly assembled with the care usually reserved for immortal jazz or classical recordings. At last, novelty music is going to get the respect it deserves!"
The cover photo session was a massive project in itself, requiring four days in the studio and hundreds of authentic artifacts from each of the decades represented. The Christmas cover photo, naturally, features Doctor D as Santa Claus.
This project marks Dr. Demento's return to Rhino Records, which released the album Dr. Demento's Dementia Royale in 1980. Since the company's first release in 1975 (a Wild Man Fischer single), Rhino Records has grown into one of America's most successful independent record companies, recently entering into a major exclusive distribution deal with Capitol Records. The Rhino catalogue includes the nation's best selection of humorous albums along with many invaluable reissues of vintage rock music, and several fine contemporary artists including the popular Beat Farmers.
The new Dr. Demento albums are available in stores and also through the Demento Society (a special insert sheet in this edition of the Demento Society News has more information on the anthology, and how to order).
According to Webster's Ninth Collegiate Dictionary, a network is a) "a group of radio or television stations linked by wire or radio relay," or b) "a radio or TV company that produces programs for broadcast over such a network."
Westwood One is just that -- a company which produces radio programs for broadcast. And we produce more programs for more radio stations that reach more people than any of our old-line, three-letter competitors - more than NBC, CBS, ABC, RKO (recently bought by U.S. Stations) and Mutual (recently bought by Westwood One).
If you haven't heard much about our company, that might be because of our newness. Westwood One is only 10 years old, just a baby compared to the above-mentioned crew. But that hasn't stopped company President Norm Pattiz from a plan of aggressive expansion.
Starting with one program in the mid-1970's, Westwood One has grown to feature more than 30 regular programs, airing daily or weekly on more than 3000 different radio stations throughout the year.
These programs are delivered to the stations via tape, disc or satellite, the latter system via Westwood One's own earth station uplink to RCA's Satcom 1R. That satellite capability also allows us to provide digital stereo simulcasts with such cable services as HBO and Showtime.
Some of the Westwood One programs you may be familiar with are "Earth News Radio," "Future Hits," "Scott Shannon's Rockin' America Top 30 Countdown," "Special Edition," "Live From Gilley's," "Off The Record With Mary Turner," "The Rock Chronicles," and "Line One," a live-in-the-studio-via-satellite broadcast that features a different rock artist each week. And, of course, there's "The Dr. Demento Show," one of Westwood One's oldest and most cherished programs.
We've also done "The US Festival '83" broadcast, and exclusive specials featuring Bruce Springsteen, Kenny Rogers, Alabama and Elvis Presley, among others. And in addition to Westwood One's American affiliates, many of our programs are heard overseas via the BBC, the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service, The Voice of America and The Far East Network, thanks to the efforts of our own International Division.
We also have several programs for Spanish language stations, and we now have a news operation with our purchase of Mutual.
As if that weren't enough, Westwood One recently joined the world in contributing to the USA for Africa campaign with "Radio USA For Africa," a three-hour satellite broadcast with numerous celebrity guests. The proceeds of the April 21, 1985, broadcast went to that charitable cause, of course.
So the next time someone asks you just what exactly the Westwood One Radio Networks are all about, you can do what I do.
Tell them that they're the people who broadcast the biggest and best radio shows in the world, which, of course, would just have to include "The Dr. Demento Show."
KFMF-FM CHICO CA KRPX-AM PRICE UT WRSG-AM BINGHAMTON NY WKQW-FM LADY LAKE FL KLLT-FM GRANTS NM KSKE-FM KREMMLING CO WYKZ-FM SAVANNAH GA KHYT-AM TUCSON AZ WNUU-FM NEW YORK NY WOAY-FM BECKLEY WV WHK-AM CLEVELAND OH
(For each issue of the Demento Society News, Dr. Demento will contribute a mini-biography of an artist heard on the Dr. Demento Show. His subject for Issue One is the most popular artist in the history of the show as measured by listener requests, "Weird Al" Yankovic).
Lots of people think of "Weird Al" Yankovic as a new face on the pop music scene.
We've known "Weird Al" for quite a spell here in the Land of Dementia, however...long before he became a household word (make that household weird) with his Grammy-winning single and AVA-winning video of "Eat It" and his gold album "Weird Al" Yankovic in 3-D.
Al's weirds and music were first heard on the Dr. Demento Show on March 14, 1976. That was shortly after a cheap cassette arrived in my mailbox sent by sixteen-year-old Alfred Yankovic of Lynwood, California (the "Weird Al" part would come later).
As rough and unpolished as that tape was, it definitely caught my ear. The voice may have been off-key but its owner's enthusiasm and unusual sense of humor were much in evidence. The song was highly original: a backhand tribute to an ugly but lovable hulk of a Plymouth. (Little did I know then that I would have the privilege of driving that very Plymouth for the cameras of TV's Real People just two weeks before Al would trade it in for the Toyota that would eventually be given away in a 1985 contest on MTV...but I timewarp).
And then there was that accordion. Most of us think of accordions as antiquated wheeze-boxes fit only for the ears of grandparents...but somehow Alfred's accordion was, well, almost rock n' roll.
"Belvedere Cruisin'" became #1 in Lynwood as soon as I played it and another tape arrived shortly. "School Cafeteria" revealed for the first time Al's special talent for comedy lyric writing:
This was something any present or former student could relate to and "School Cafeteria" was a hit all over the Land of Dementia.
In 1977 Al graduated from Lynwood High as the class valedictorian, and headed off to California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo to study architecture. The first song he sent me from there was "Mr. Frump In the Iron Lung." He'd write me from time to time, telling me that he was performing occasionally in local student hangouts, that he'd gotten himself a weekly show on the campus radio station, and that he'd begun calling himself "Weird Al."
None of this came close to preparing me for the tape that arrived September 11, 1979. It was a new song that Al had recorded with his trusty accordion in a tiled restroom adjacent to the Cal Poly radio station where he was a DJ. That was the year that The Knack's "My Sharona" had swept the nation and this tape was Al's debut in the realm of rock 'n' roll parody--"My Bologna."
Once a year or so, if I'm lucky, I get a record or a tape that screams DEMENTIA NIRVANA for the first note...like "Dead Puppies" in 1977 and "Fish Heads" in 1978. "My Bologna" was definitely it for 1979. In addition to the great lyrics, the sound of The Knack's mighty rock riffs played on Al's accordion was extraordinary. Those tile walls provided just the right amplification. Needless to say, it went straight to #1 on the Funny Five.
"My Bologna" also became Al's disc debut, thanks to The Knack themselves, who enjoyed Al's parody of their hit so much that they persuaded Capitol Records to release it as a single. There was talk of re-doing it in a proper studio but Capitol wisely decided that the restroom rendition was perfect as it was. For the flipside Al did a remake of "School Cafeteria" cleverly altering one lyric line to include the words "the knack."
Greater things were yet to come. On September 14, 1980, just before heading back to Cal Poly for his senior year, Al dropped into the Los Angeles studios of KMET where the special live version of the Dr. Demento Show is broadcast, and announced that he had a new parody ready to perform. After recruiting several friends and innocent bystanders to help out, Al performed his new song live on the air. The "backup band" included "Musical Mike" Kieffer doing his inimitable hand noises, Damaskas (of "Making Love in a Subaru" fame) on background vocals, and Jon "Bermuda" Schwartz banging with his fists on Al's accordion case. (This was the very first time Al met "Bermuda," a professional drummer who just happened to have come by the studio that night with a tape he'd worked on. Jon has been Al's regular drummer ever since.)
The new song, of course, was "Another One Rides the Bus," based on Queen's "Another one Bites the Dust." That performance inspired the greatest volume of calls for any single song in the history of the Dr. Demento Show. Since Al had to go back to Cal Poly, we kept the tape of that first performance and used it over and over, and that's the version heard on records to this very day.
As Al tried to concentrate on his architectural studies, radio stations all over America were bootlegging tapes of "Bus" from the Dr. Demento Show, and it invariably became their most-requested song too. Obviously, there had to be a record. Al's contract with Capitol had expired, but another major label quickly offered him a new contract. Alas, after many delays, that deal fell through due to legal technicalities. Desperately wanting to somehow get the record out while it was hot, Al had a thousand copies pressed up at his own expense on the "Placebo" label, together with three original songs; this remains today the rarest and most collectible "Weird Al" record.
In February 1981, at long last, Al was able to sign a contract with TK Records, a label well known for its many disco hits in the late 1970s. "Bus" was immediately released as a single. Despite the delay, the record reached Billboard's "Bubbling Under" chart within two weeks -- but within three weeks TK Records had gone out of business. Life isn't always a bed of roses for an intrepid rock parodist! After this rude awakening to the realities and unrealities of the record business, Al returned to Cal Poly and got his degree in architecture.
After graduation, Al decided that he would give himself one year to "make it" once and for all in the music business. After that it would be back to the drawing board (literally). To keep a roof over his head he got a job in the mailroom at Westwood One, the radio network that carries the Dr. Demento Show.
It wound up taking a little more than a year, during which Al wrote "Stop Draggin' My Car Around" and "I'll Be Mellow When I'm Dead" which were played on the Dr. Demento Show as unreleased tapes. Then came the song that proved to be the catalyst that got Al the major record contract he'd long deserved: "I Love Rocky Road."
It's rather intriguing how this came about. In the process of getting the necessary permissions from the copyright owners before recording his parody of the Joan Jett hit "I Love Rock 'n' Roll," Al got in touch with Jake Hooker, co-writer of the song. Jake was so impressed with Al's work that he not only gave him permission but also enlisted his friend and business associate Rick Derringer, the well known rock guitarist and record producer, to produce Al's recording.
There was still no record contract, but with Derringer's name and reputation attached to the project, studio time was made available to record an LP's worth of Al's parodies and originals. After most of the tracks had been cut, and "I Love Rocky Road" played on the Dr. Demento Show to tumultuous response, Al finally signed with Rock 'n' Roll Records, a CBS-distributed label which is part of the Scotti Brothers recording and television production empire.
The first "Weird Al" album was released in April 1983, together with Al's first Rock 'n' Roll single, "Ricky." Meanwhile the Video Age was upon us, and "Ricky" -- a parody of the Toni Basil hit "Mickey" with lyrics inspired by I Love Lucy -- proved perfect for the new medium. Al made the supreme sacrifice, shaving off his mustache and enduring a three-hour makeup job to emerge as the perfect reincarnation of Ricky Ricardo. A young Los Angeles actress/comedienne and member of the legendary comedy troupe "The Groundlings," Tress MacNeille, played Lucy to perfection on both video and record.
The single and album both sold well, but it was the "Ricky" video that really made an impression. Selected by many reviewers as one of the best videos of 1983 it showed the showbiz world that "Weird Al" was for real. With that in his portfolio, Al could go to the likes of Michael Jackson and Sting to get their permission to do the parodies that would soon make him world-famous.
"Eat It" was released in February 1984, followed closely by the "Weird Al" in 3-D album. I spent much of that spring touring with Al. We began the tour performing for audiences of a few hundred; by the end of the tour 10,000 was more like it. The single reached #12 on the Billboard Charts, #4 on the Cash Box charts, #3 in Canada and #1 in Australia. It was also a hit in Japan where Al did a short tour later in the year, making perhaps the most bizarre of all his many television appearances.
In June 1985, Al's third album Dare To Be Stupid was released, featuring more great parodies such as "Like a Surgeon" and "I Want a New Duck" plus the best originals he's written -- "One More Minute" and title song in particular. In September, his entire "life story" was released on videocassette as The Compleat Al, which also contains all of his video hits (including songs from the new album) and comedy sketches like the ones he does on MTV's Al-TV. In October, The Authorized Al was released by Contemporary Books, another hilarious and "somewhat made-up" look at the life of Weird Al.
"That's great, Dr. Demento," I can hear you saying as I write this..."but what's 'Weird Al' really like? Is he really...well ...uh...weird?"
Indeed he is, in the sense of "outrageous" or "unpredictable". Al can always be counted on to say and do the unexpected, like resting his foot behind his head during a TV interview. In addition to writing the best song parodies since Allan Sherman in his prime, Al also gives funnier "stupid answers to stupid questions" than any interview subject since The Beatles. He's as good at writing comedy sketches as he is at writing songs, witness The Compleat Al...and once in a great while he'll even let loose with a few bars of brilliantly played "straight" music on accordion or keyboard, until he realizes someone's listening.
Al's private life is...his private life. His lyrics and conversation betray an intense fascination and highly analytical mind regarding the media, especially television. I can testify that he's handled his sudden stardom quite nicely -- perhaps because it wasn't really all that sudden, as we've seen. Al is still friendly and down-to-earth, and happy to meet, greet and signs autographs for his fans whenever he can. He's got remarkable tolerance for the brutal schedules he sometimes has to keep; it helps that he has the capacity to cat-nap in any position. On the tour bus he's often off in his own world -- which, judging by the way he's entertained us, must be a lively place.
Discography (U.S.A. Releases)
"WEIRD AL" YANKOVIC. Rock 'n' Roll BFZ 38679 (1983) Ricky/Gotta Boogie/I Love Rocky Road/Buckingham Blues/Happy Birthday/Stop Draggin' My Car Around/My Bologna/The Check's In the Mail/Another One Rides the Bus/I'll Be Mellow When I'm Dead/Such a Groovy Guy/Mr. Frump In the Iron Lung.
"WEIRD AL" YANKOVIC IN 3-D. Rock n' Roll BFZ 39221 (1984). Eat It/Midnight Star/The Brady Bunch/Buy Me a Condo/I Lost on Jeopardy/Polkas On 45/Mr. Popeil/King of Suede/That Boy Could Dance/ Theme from Rocky XIII/Nature Trail To Hell.
DARE TO BE STUPID. Rock 'n' Roll FZ 40033 (1985). Like a Surgeon/Dare To Be Stupid/I Want A New Duck/One More Minute/Yoda/George Of the Jungle/Slime Creatures From Outer Space/Girls Just Want To Have Lunch/This Is the Life/Cable TV/Hooked On Polkas.
Another One Rides the Bus/Happy Birthday/ Gotta Boogie/Mr. Frump In
the Iron Lung. Placebo 3626 (1981).
Note: "Another One Rides the Bus" is the same recording heard on the first album. The other selections are early "demo" versions of songs later remade for the album. Out of print.
My Bologna/School Cafeteria Capitol 4816 (1979). Out of print.
Another One Rides the Bus/Gotta Boogie. T.K. 1043 (1981). Note: Both sides are the same recordings heard on EP. Out of print.
Ricky/Buckingham Blues Rock 'n' Roll ZS4-03849 (1983).
I Love Rocky Road/Happy Birthday. Rock 'n' Roll ZS4-03998 (1983).
Eat It/That Boy Could Dance. Rock n' Roll ZS4-03474 (1984).
King of Suede/Nature Trail to Hell. Rock 'n' Roll ZS4-04452 (1984).
I Lost on Jeopardy/I'll Be Mellow When I'm Dead. Rock 'n' Roll ZS4-04469 (1984).
This Is the Life (Theme from Johnny Dangerously)/Buy Me a Condo. Rock 'n' Roll. ZS4-04708 (1984). (Also released as a 12" single - Rock 'n' Roll 4Z9-05154).
Like a Surgeon/Slime Creatures From Outer Space. Rock 'n' Roll ZS4-04937 (1985).
I Want a New Duck/Cable TV. Rock n' Roll ZS4-05578 (1985).
One More Minute/Midnight Star. Rock 'n' Roll ZS4-05606 (1985).
Eat It/I Lost On Jeopardy. Rock n' Roll ZS8-05483 ("Golden Oldies" reissue, 1985).
Existential Blues - Part 2 -- Tom "T-Bone" Stankus.
The long-awaited sequel to Tom's demented classic "Existential Blues" is now available on a 45 RPM single. It features a short "rap" by a voice familiar to all readers of the Demento Society News. It is available from Julio Productions, P.O. Box 2171, Station A, Meriden, CT 06450. (They also still have copies of the original "Existential Blues.")
"T-Bone" is one of the most talented performers we know. He does pop-rock material as well as a number of humorous songs. He performs mainly in his home state of Connecticut, entertaining in various clubs several nights each week. He also spends two months each year performing in the Florida Keys.
Wet Dream -- Kip Addotta
This amazing exercise in icthyological punmanship was recorded in 1984 by a popular Los Angeles comedian who does stand-up comedy and television acting as well as musical humor. "Wet Dream" originally appeared on a 12" EP called White Boy Rapp. It is also found on the recently released LP, The Comedian of the United States, on Laff Records. The Laff label has a large catalog of comedy records including several albums by Richard Pryor. Look for these in the COMEDY section of your local record store or write to Laff Records, 4218 W. Jefferson Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90016.
My Dead Dog Rover -- Hank, Stu, Dave & Hank
This tape was recorded in 1977 by Hank #2, who is a Los Angeles recording engineer, and his friends Stu, Dave and Hank #1. It is a parody (new words to a familiar tune) based on a popular song written in 1927, "I'm Looking Over A Four-Leaf Clover." It has been a frequent request item on the Dr. Demento Show ever since 1977, but it has never been available on vinyl, until its recent release on the 1970s volume of the six-record set Dr. Demento Presents the Greatest Novelty Records Of All Time (see page 1 of the Demento Society News).
PSEUDONYMS REAL NAMES 1. Nervous Norvus A. Harry Stewart 2. Bo Diddley B. Sheb Wooley 3. Capt. Beefheart C. Jiles Perry Richardson 4. Commander Cody D. Elias McDaniel 5. Tiny Tim E. Jimmy Drake 6. Napoleon XIV F. Don van Vliet 7. The Big Bopper G. George Frayne 8. Yogi Yorgesson H. Terry Fell 9. Brother George Underbrush J. Jerry Samuels 10. Ben Colder K. Herbert Khaury
There are close to 200,000 of them around the house these days, and almost every one has its own story.
I do indeed acquire some of them only after considerable effort and the expenditure of more money than any sane person would spend for a round piece of black plastic.
Others just come in the mail...and there are a great many that I bought at perfectly ordinary record stores years ago that have since become extraordinary collector's items.
I'll explore many aspects of record collecting in future columns. First, though, some general observations about how to find some of the records heard on the Dr. Demento Show.
Some of these "records" are in fact unreleased tapes which have been sent to me by the artists. The only way to get copies of these would be to tape them off the radio. (Don't say I told you so!)
Many of the others are collector's items which have been out of print for years. "Out of print" does not necessarily mean "unavailable," however; you just have to know where to look. Most major cities have at least one store selling out-of-print records. You will often find such stores listed in the Yellow Pages under "records." I'll have a lot more to say about the search for out-of-print records in future columns.
A remarkable number of demented discs are quite readily available, though, from the same record stores that sell Madonna, Prince and Bruce Springsteen.
The big thing to remember when going to such stores is that most of them keep their "demented discs" in a separate COMEDY section. Simply ask the clerk where the COMEDY records are. Any reasonably well-stocked comedy section will contain albums by Spike Jones, Cheech & Chong, George Carlin, Tom Lehrer, Stan Freberg, Allan Sherman, Monty Python and "Weird Al" Yankovic. (Some stores do put "Weird Al" in the regular rock section, and nearly all stores put Frank Zappa there).
Somewhere in the same area there should be a bin labelled COMEDY - VARIOUS ARTISTS or COMEDY COLLECTIONS or something similar. There, with a bit of luck. you'll find "Dr. Demento Presents The Greatest Novelty Records Of All Time" (my six-volume record and tape set on Rhino records). Some stores have even been known to set aside a special DR. DEMENTO section!
The COMEDY section will always be the most fertile source of dementia in any "regular" record store, but it does not exhaust all the possibilities.
Many funny records have been made through the years by artists who also do other kinds of music. Frank Zappa would be a perfect example. Another is Ray Stevens, whose albums may very well be found in the "country" section, since some of them are straight country music.
Ray Stevens would also be an example of an artist you'd want to look for in the "oldies singles." Not all stores have oldies singles, and some that do have only a paltry selection, but others have thousands of them. I'm referring here not to out-of-print records, but to newly manufactured copies of past hits on 45 rpm. A well-stocked "oldies singles" section will offer such items as Stevens' "The Streak" and "Ahab the Arab," Bobby "Boris" Pickett's "Monster Mash," Sheb Wooley's "The Purple People Eater" and David Seville's "Witch Doctor." Oldies singles are rarely categorized by type of music, as albums are; all the singles will be in one big alphabet.
For now, vinyl discs are your best bet for Dementia. There are some fine comedy albums on cassette, but most stores still offer a much better selection on records. Rhino Records released the first comedy Compact Disc, by the Firesign Theatre; while Weird Al's "Dare To Be Stupid" has happily been released on CD as well.
In closing -- remember, all record stores are not alike! Never jump to the conclusion that something is not available simply because one or two stores don't have it! When in doubt, head for the biggest record store in town. Most cities will have one or two stores that go out of their way to carry a very large selection of records. These will generally be "free-standing" stores rather than stores located in shopping malls.
Those of you in smaller towns and rural areas may have a considerably more difficult time locating demented discs than someone in L.A. or Chicago. Mail order may be the best solution. The entire Rhino catalog is available by mail -- the "Sears & Rhinobuck Catalogue" may be had for 50c from Rhino Records, 1201 Olympic Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90404. In the future we plan to offer a small but highly discerning selection of demented discs through the Demento Society.
Next time we'll start getting into the subject of tracking down those out-of-print favorites. Happy Hunting!!
1. Weird Al's hit "____ It"
3. ____ Jones & the City Slickers
6. Cheech & Chong's "____ Ache My Eye"
7. Weird Al's tribute to The Empire Strikes Back
8. Dead Puppies singers, ____ Edsl
10. Kip Adotta's seafaring adventure, ____ Dream
12. Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer on Christmas ____
13. Lehrer's advice to scouts, ____ Prepared
14. Dickie Goodman's song, ____ Jockstrap
16. Last name of the singer who did "Homecoming Queen's Got A Gun"
19. Video game favorite, ____ Man
22. Between solo and trio
23. Play it again, ____
25. Where Eddie Murphy's Boogie is
26. The people who "dement" us at tax time
27. Fred Blassie carries a grudge against ____ Neck Geeks
32. Felix the ____
33. His daughter is a famous Valley girl
34. Q: Are We Not Men? A: ____ Are Devo!!!
35. "____ Name Is Larry"
2. Tom Stankus' middle name
3. Demento's famous phrase, "____ Demented!"
4. "____ Of Suede"
5. Half of the Fish Heads songwriting duo
9. Who's newsletter is this?
10. Word used to describe Al Yankovic
11. Abbott & Costello's query, ____'s On First?
15. Dangerfield's ____-ping Rodney
17. How Maurice Chevalier says yes
18. The demented ____-out disc, Exercise 'Til You Die
20. The First two letters of the alphabet
21. Let's all do "The ____ Shuffle"
24. Wild ____ Fischer
27. Ma Kettle's longtime flame
28. This alien is phoning home
29. Jim Stafford's "____ Patti"
30. Barnes and Barnes want to grow "____ Top Beards"
31. Rusty Warren wants ladies to display their knockers this way
32. What state does Dr. Demento live in? (Abbreviation)
Dear Doctor: My granddad gave me a big pile of old
Some of them are ones you play on your show including "Cocktails for
Two" and "Too Fat Polka."
Trouble is, my stereo doesn t have the "78" speed. How can I play
them? -- Steve Varrick, Lawrence, KS.
Trouble is, my stereo doesn t have the "78" speed. How can I play them? -- Steve Varrick, Lawrence, KS.
The Doctor Replies: Since the 78 speed for records was phased out in the 1950s, very few turntables made today turn at that speed. The ones that do are very expensive professional and deluxe models, chiefly Technics and Thorens.
If you don't have $600-plus to spend for one of these, your best bet would be to look for a secondhand turntable or changer. For use with a modern receiver, try to find one of the Dual brand turntables that were very popular in the early 1970s.
For optimum sound from your 78s you will also need to have a stylus especially made for the wider grooves of the old discs. Fortunately the Shure company still makes 78-type styli for most of their cartridges which are available in a wide variety of price ranges. You may have to remove the cartridge that comes with the old turntable you find and replace it with a Shure.
Many inexpensive compact stereos made up to about 1980 also have the 78 speed, but you may have a problem with the stylus as the tonearms on these are often not built to accept standard cartridges such as Shure.
You may be lucky enough to find a record player from the 1950s or earlier...and these can be a lot of fun, though you may need some technical knowhow to keep them working, and some luck to find spare parts. "Wind-up" phonographs from the 1920's and earlier are the most fun of all, though they do tend to wear out records fast.
Dear Doctor: How do I get to be a disc jockey? -- Judy Benson, Portland, ME.
The Doctor Replies: The best way to learn, in my opinion, is to attend a regular two- or four-year college that has a campus radio station staffed by students. You'll get a regular education (perhaps with a major in communications or journalism) while getting the hands-on experience of broadcasting in a reasonably low-pressure situation.
Many commercial radio stations today accept outstanding college radio people as "interns" where they can learn about big-time radio from the inside, and that can be a fine way to move into a good job in radio.
There are also commercial broadcast schools in many major cities. These are profit-making enterprises so be absolutely sure of what you're getting before you part with your money. Some of them do a good job.
Remember: there are many more people who want to be disc jockeys than there are jobs. The pay is generally not what you expect, and job security is nonexistent. Very few radio stations today allow the DJ's to pick the records they play. But it's still one of the greatest ways to make a living I can think of, and there'll always be room, even at the top, for truly outstanding people.
If you have a question you would like to ask Dr. Demento in this column, write to: "Ask The Doctor," The Demento Society News, P.O. Box 884, Culver City, CA 90230.
This is the first biography ever published on Spike Jones, who was a major star of network radio, records and personal appearances in the 1940s, and whose daffy discs still highlight the Dr. Demento Show almost every week.
Jordan Young, a Southern California writer, conducted extensive research, interviewed the surviving members of Spike's band, and collected some amazing photographs to put together this authoritative and lively biography. We see that Spike was a man of many contradictions, a dynamic and ambitious if sometimes self-destructive genius.
The book includes a complete discography, listing every record ever made by Spike Jones including many unreleased items. It is available from the publishers, Disharmony Books, c/o Moonstone Press, Box 142, Beverly Hills, CA 90213. The price is $14.95 plus $1.50 postage (and 6% tax for California residents only).
Since most stations pay close attention to feedback from their listeners, your telling them that you'd like to hear the Doctor Demento Show often means more to them than anything we can do.
1 - E. The late Jimmy Drake's brief but spectacular recording career as "Nervous Norvus" grew out of a business he conducted, recording demos for amateur songwriters on his own equipment.
2 - D. Bo Diddley (Elias McDaniel) was one of the top R&B artists of the 1950s, recording many novelty songs and uptempo blues. His biggest hit was "Say Man" (1959). He remains a forceful performer today.
3 - F. Capt. Beefheart (Don van Vliet) went to high school with Frank Zappa and made some of his finest recordings with Frank, but has mostly gone his own highly unconventional way, making what might be called poetical blues-rock. He is also an extremely talented painter, working under his "real" name.
4 - G. Commander Cody (George Frayne) and his Lost Planet Airmen were one of the most popular bands of the 1970s, specializing in roots-revival sounds. Their novelty hit "Hot Rod Lincoln" was a revival of a song written and first recorded by Charlie Ryan in 1960; that in turn was an "answer" to "Hot Rod Race," a country hit in 1951!
5 - K. The long career of Tiny Tim (Herbert Khaury) peaked in 1968 with the Top Ten album God Bless Tiny Tim, but he's still active today and recently did a wonderful version of the old TV theme song, "Mr. Ed."
6 - J. "They're Coming To Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!" was recorded as a lark in 1966 by a singer-pianist-composer who spent many years working piano bars and cocktail lounges in and around Philadelphia. Today, Jerry Samuels has a new career as an entertainer in senior citizens' centers and rest homes. He has been highly successful in this field, and has organized his own agency to book other entertainers for similar performances throughout the East.
7 - C. The Big Bopper (J. P. Richardson) had a big hit in 1958 with "Chantilly Lace" whose flip side was the hilarious "Purple People Eater Meets Witch Doctor." He wrote another Top Ten hit song, "Running Bear." He was killed in the infamous 1959 light plane crash that also took the lives of Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens.
8 - A. In addition to his many 1950s "Yogi Yorgesson" hits featuring a Scandinavian accent (including "I Yust Go Nuts At Christmas" and "Ballad of Ole Swensen"), the late Harry Stewart made several popular singles singing in a Japanese accent under the name Harry Kari.
9 - H. Terry Fell was a successful performer in the 1940s and 1950s, doing occasional comedy numbers along with such "straight" songs as "Truck Driving Man," which became a standard in eighteen-wheeler territory. He created the character of Brother George Underbrush in the 1970s, making several novelty singles including "Green Garden Hose" and "The Bears Are Taking Over Yellowstone."
10 - B. Sheb Wooley, who made the great novelty hit of 1958 "Purple People Eater" under his own name, has produced more than a dozen LP's worth of country song parodies under the Ben Colder pseudonym since 1962. He has also used the Ben Colder name for a re-make of "Purple People Eater."