Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Flying Saucer Mash Up King exhumed from grave to claim throne

Most modern music fans have become familiar with the concept of the mash up. A DJ or in most cases these days, some computer geek extracts familiar audio elements of a popular song and layers them on top of another.

Originally seen as an unsanctioned "illegal" manipulation, guys like John Oswald of Plunderphonics and Negativland seemingly pioneered the audio collage concept that was eventually perfected for dance floor use by usurpers to the throne like Mark Vidler (aka Go Home Productions), 2 Many DJ's (aka Soulwax), Z-Trip and even veritable kids like the UK's Pojmasta and SF Bay Area's Party Ben.

Download some Z-Trip ( from the now classic 1999 Bomb Hip Hop comp Return of The DJ Vol. III)

Z-Trip - Rockstar II
Return of the DJ Volume III

"Rockstar II" (mp3)
from "Return of the DJ Volume III"
Various Artists
Bomb Hip Hop

  • Buy at iTunes Music Store
  • Buy at eMusic
  • Buy at RealNetworks / Rhapsody
  • Buy at Napster Click To Read More On This Compilation

    The Mash Up remix concept has reached enough commercial traction that The Beatles & David Bowie have commissioned official versions through their respective legit labels, and the UK version of MTV ran a popular program of mashed video clips. Blondie & the Doors were legitimately mashed by Go Home Productions a couple years back, and the resulting blended & licensed tracks made the charts. Apparently even 50+ something comedian Billy Crystal was spotted wearing the "official" Rapture Riders T-Shirt not long ago at a UK charity event.

    GHP's latest travesty hits UK stores this month:

Well, even though today's scenesters may be more familiar with DJ John, DJ BC & even Freelance Hellraiser, a lot of you may be unaware that the original mash up king was likely a man named Dickie Goodman. In fact he mashed up the Beatles long before George Martin ever cashed a check from Cirque Du Soleil...Goodman's Frankenstein Meets the Beatles came out in '64. ( audio snippet of Frankenstein Meets Beatles)

His first actual "mash up" made the charts 8 years earlier in 1956, and far from an underground act, some of his recordings sold millions. His style was emulated by dozens of imitators, He knocked Elvis out of the #1 spot in 1956, and he stayed on the charts even after Elvis was dead. Dickie Goodman arguably influenced not only hip hop, but even late night TV comedians with his "fake news" style, still popular on today 50 years later (notably on Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" & "Colbert Report"). His son claims that his pop basically invented sampling & remixing, which are currently the music industry's largest source of new revenue, and when you analyze it, it's tough to argue otherwise.

He was an occasional staple of radio DJ playlists for 30 years until the late 80's, with his heyday mainly in the early 60's through the late 70's. His first breakthrough hit was "The Flying Saucer" (aka "The Flying Saucers Are Real,") which made a mock War of The World's style newscast even more entertaining by splicing in clips from popular rock n pop performers like The Platters, Elvis Presley, Little Richard, and Fats Domino. Goodman's voice would be heard playing a reporter known as "John Cameron Cameron" while his partner Bill Buchanan alternated in as a DJ.

The success of their mixing was a sort of fluke, with their 1st production getting mostly rejected, and it's only initial airplay in NYC came when Goodman & Buchannan personally walked it into Alan Freed's radio station WINS. Within a few spins though it was a sensation, and George Goldner of Roulette took it on and distributed it nationally to become a bigger hit through his influential ( and reputably mob affiliated ) distribution network. The record sold half a million copies within it's 1st three weeks, and hit as high as #3 on the charts, even knocking Elvis' "Don't Be Cruel/Hound Dog" out of the #1 spot in some markets...

Here's the original version, a sensation of it's day released on both 78 & 45 in 1956 via their own LUNIVERSE Records ( The name Universe Records had been found as already taken so an L was quickly penciled in overnight on the original pressings...hence "Luniverse")

Buchanan & Goodman - The Flying Saucer (Part 1)

Like today's mash up mavens Goodman found he indeed had some legal issues to sort out, after being sued by labels & publishers who claimed he was profiting illegally off their copyrighted works. In fact their followup single was a jab at the legal system, called "Buchanan and Goodman on Trial", using the same formula but poking fun at the courts.

Writer Chuck Miller published an authorative piece for Goldmine on the controversy over their methods that ensued:

...The Music Publishers Protective Association, through the offices of its trustee, the Harry Fox Agency, claimed "The Flying Saucer" was guilty of at least 19 different instances of copyright infringement and unauthorized usages. "If we can't stop this," said one record insider to Billboard, "nothing is safe in our business."

"No industry exec believes [Buchanan and Goodman] have a leg to stand on in their use of copyrighted material and other disk artists without permission," said an unnamed source to Variety.

But although the record companies publicly moaned and wrung their hands over the issue, they initially let the publishing houses go after Buchanan and Goodman for copyright infringement, rather than litigate the matter themselves. Part of the reason may have been because "The Flying Saucer" actually increased sales of records included in its collage. For example, because a snippet of "Earth Angel" was part of "The Flying Saucer," requests for the Penguins song forced DooTone Records to reissue their hit. As an unidentified publishing representative told Time magazine, "It's the greatest sampler of all. If you're not on 'Saucer,' you're nowhere!"

Fortunately a judge eventually ruled in Goodman's favor saying that his works were original satires, and therefore protected speech.

While the novelty eventually wore off in the marketplace as imitator discs flooded the racks, Goodman kept his career going even after switching partnerships. At one point in the early 60's, he assumed presidency of 20th Century Fox Records, and his first major success, hitting #8 on the charts, was a quickly edited compilation of President Kennedy's speeches, issued only days after his assasination.

He still kept at the "cut in" genre for years despite the occasional legal battles, and setbacks. Other gigs emerged like supporting himself as a joke writer for The Ed Sullivan Show & he still made occasional novelty records on topical themes ranging from Batman to student unrest on college campuses. Goodman had to support a family and eventually created music for TV commercials and even put together a band to represent The Glass Container Manufactuers in their war against aluminum cans. This pre-fab creation of Goodman's known as The Glass Bottle, toured and even hit the charts a few times.

His novelty creations got lower profile responses throughout the later 60's & mid 70's, but airplay and hits came sporadically on political topics like Soul Power, Watergate, The Energy Crisis" (which made it into the Top 40) & the latest movie fads like Jaws & Star Wars. In fact his "Mr. Jaws" parody disc actually started a resurgence in his personal genre, hitting #1 and surprising many people that Goodman was still in the record game.

Download mp3 of this number 1 hit in the US & Canada:

Dickie Goodman - "Mr. Jaws"

Follow up attempts came and went with themes built around King Kong, Return of The Jedi, ET and more until his final 7" release "Safe Sex Report" issued in 1988.

Billboard magazine has recognized Goodman as the #1 Novelty Act of All-Time, and that means latecomers like Ray Stevens, Barnes & Barnes, Weird Al and William Hung all have to sit in his shadows. He was finally awarded a posthumous Grammy for his contributions to the Recording arts yet today remains but an obscure foootnote in the rogue's gallery of characters from the early days of rock n roll.

Said Weird Al of Goodman's influence:

Dickie Goodman built a career out of imagination and sheer chutzpah - he was a seminal figure in the history of comedy records. In my early teens, my friends and I would try to emulate him by making our own "cut-in" records using a transistor radio and a tiny reel-to-reel tape recorder. He was a definite early influence, and he continues to be a major inspiration.

-"Weird Al" Yankovic

I am not sure what caused Goodman to disappear from the audio landscape, but likely it may have to do with his death by self inflicted gunshot in 1989. He had just ended his 4th marriage, and had some serious financial problems, his heyday had passed, and likely felt the time was right to end his run.

While learning of Goodman's demise, I was at least delighted to find that his son has reissued some classic audio collages on CD and for legit download through the usual interweb outlets.

Upon the reissues coming out, longtime fan Dr. Demento, who fielded countless requests for Goodman's works on his syndicated radio program, said of the legacy:

Now, for the first time, with these digital time capsules, the Goodman Brothers share their father's records with us, as only they can. It's an essential part of the history of American comedy, and American rock & roll as well.

-Dr. Demento

Said his son Jon to author Chuck Miller about reissuing his father's works:

He wants anybody who ever sampled a track, anybody who ever transposed a lyric into an entirely new song, anybody who had to contact the Harry Fox Agency to determine proper mechanical rights - to remember Dickie Goodman.

"This is what I was meant to do. What I'm trying to do is stop something that can last forever from fading away. I'm trying to save my father's work."
- Jon Goodman

Goodman has published a book on his father's life available here

Here are some more classic samples of Dickie Goodman's works and links to purchase more of these amusing audio constructs that shed laughter & light on pop music fads, times & trends and the curious current events of daze now long gone by...

Dickie Goodman - Star Warz

check out more on Goodman via these links:

Dickie Goodman Greatest Hits

from "Dickie Goodman Greatest Hits"
by Dickie Goodman
Goodman Brothers

Dickie Goodman All Time Novelty Hits
Mr Jaws is taken from "Dickie Goodman All Time Novelty Hits"
by Dickie Goodman
Goodman Brothers

More Goodman On CD

Stream Dickie Goodman tracks via Rhapsody

download Dickie Goodman releases at one of these download services


I was all excited lasterday to post this news of Goodman's material reemerging when I discovered noted rock scribe Michael Azarrad had sorta similar inspiration and beat me to the punch with his column that arrived in my inbox as well on Wednesday afternoon...

I look forward to checking this article out as well...

Azerrad's Column This Week:

If It Wasn't For Dickie
by Michael Azerrad

Imagine a single that sampled U2, Jay-Z, Bruce Springsteen, Nirvana and a bunch of others — without permission — and then hit #3 on the Billboard charts, selling more than a million copies. That's right, you're imagining the mother of all lawsuits. You're also imagining something that pretty much already happened — in 1956...more

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