Thursday, January 6, 2011

From Cannibalism to Fancy Island Drinks

Many people haven't had the pleasure to hear the next song I'm going to mention. This could be for several reasons: a) you're too young; b) your name isn't "Timothy" (which is probably the first real reason it stuck with me); or c) it was banned on your local radio station, so it never got played.

The song, "Timothy" was by a not-known-at-all band from Pennsylvania called, "The Buoys."

Here's a refresher of the song:

It's a really great "feel-good" number from 1971 about 3 trapped miners who panicked, got hungry and, well... ate "Timothy."

What I really like about this song is its backstory: "The Buoys" had just secured their first record deal with Scepter Records, but with the caveat that the label would pay only for the studio, but not to promote the song. The band was on their own getting it out there.

So, along comes a 23-year old struggling musician who worked at the studio and agrees to help The Buoys with their first real label song. Since there was no promotion, this young musician talked the band into letting him write their song with a topic so radical it would get banned -- intentionally. "Any press is good press."

It worked like a charm. In 1971, "Timothy" climbed the Billboard Charts to number 17. Radio stations were banning it all across the country, and this only made people clamor for their own copies. 

This was an unexpected hit for "The Buoys" and Scepter Records gave them a subsequent record (album) deal (which failed miserably).

However, the young musician who wrote the controversial song in the first place went on to more success when instead of writing about eating people, he wrote about drinking Pina Coladas. You know him as 70s super-phenom, Rupert Holmes.

Check out these super-fly dance moves:

Actually, his success goes much deeper than "Timothy" and "The Pina Colada Song" (don't forget his follow-up song, "Him!"). Rupert was a talented songwriter who wrote songs for The Platters, The Drifters, Wayne Newton, Dolly Parton, Barry Manilow and even The Partridge Family.

No comments: