As I was posting my song-of-the-day on ChristmasMusicEveryday.com this morning, I realized the format over there does not allow me to write very much about today's featured artist.
Do you know the name Dickie Goodman? He has been recognized by Billboard magazine as the #1 Novelty Artist of all time. He is admired greatly by those who followed in his footsteps (Weird Al and Dr. Demento are both in Dickie's top 8 friends on MySpace) but the public at large (that's you) may have forgotten him.
Dickie invented the "break-in" record. Pretending to be a news reporter at the scene of a developing story, he would conduct interviews with witnesses or participants at the scene who would answer his questions with snippets of popular hit records at the time.
His first hit record, 1956's Flying Saucer capitalized on America's fascination with alien spacecraft. Between breathless news reports of a War Of The Worlds type invasion scenario, Goodman's on-the-spot reporter interviewed the visitor from space who responded with short clips of popular records by Fats Domino, Little Richard, Buddy Holly and many others.
You can guess what happened next. Lawsuits from seventeen record labels charging copyright infringement and unauthorized use of their material. The judge made a landmark ruling that is still enforced today: that the new work was substantially different from the original record and was a parody, protected by fair use laws. Dickie Goodman's precedent was referred to hundreds of times decades later when sampling older songs to make new ones became popular in the 1980s.
What I love about Dickie's songs is that they were all so topical. Santa And The Satellite, which you can hear for free today on my other blog, reflects the country's obsessions with both Sputnik and Elvis Presley, the top stories of 1957.
He did records on the Caped Crusader craze (Batman And His Grandmother, 1966), the moon landing ( Luna Trip, 1969), Blaxploitation movies (Superfly Vs. Shaft, 1973), the #3 smash on the blockbuster film Jaws (Mr. Jaws, 1975) and many, many more.
Sadly, the man who brought so much laughter to two generations of record buyers took his own life on November 6, 1989. His son Jon manages his father's catalog now and there are several excellent CD compilations of hits in print, plus Jon's biography of Dickie called The King Of Novelty.