Graham Reid | | 1 min read
Few things guarantee a short career more than a gimmick song cashing in on some pop culture trend.
There were dozens of songs about hula hoops in the late Fifties (one even by the great Teresa Brewer, see clip), Beatlemania (one by the young Cher under another name) and Rubik's Cubes.
Jerry Buckner and Gary Garcia, two songwriters from Akron, Ohio, had previously breached the lower rungs of the US top 100 under another guise with Merry Christmas in the NFL (Howard Cosell as Santa?)
But they didn't initially write this song about Pac Man.
Having had a whiff of success with a sports song they actually wrote Puck-Man . . . but with a simple sideways shift they cashed in on the craze for the big video arcade game of the moment.
Incidentally, their cash-in album of the same name included Do the Donkey Kong, Froggy's Lament (about the game Frogger), Hyperspace (about the game Asteroids) and so on.
It was a concept album in fact which sampled sounds from the various games.
Alarmingly this inane song (which some have said nods towards Ted Nugent's Cat Scratch Fever, but that seems pushing it to me) got to number nine on the US charts and sold well over two million copies. The album even went gold (over half a million sales).
Buckner and Garcia continued to write jingles, novelty songs, some extra verses for the theme to WKRP in Cincinnati and so on.
They even re-recorded the whole Pac-Man Fever album in '99 when it was going to be issued on CD but Sony wouldn't allow them to have the original version.
It might have been a one-hit wonder for them, but it certainly proved lucrative. But Lennon-McCartney they weren't.
For more oddities, one-offs or songs with an interesting backstory check the massive back-catalogue at From the Vaults.