The Wild & Wacky World of Dickie Goodman

dickie

“Sampling” in popular music today is as common as a cold, with hip-hop and electronica artists cutting in bits and pieces from other artist’s songs to create something entirely new. You could say Dickie Goodman was “The Godfather of Sampling” and not be far from the truth. Goodman and his partner-in-crime Bill Buchanan were the originators of “break-in” records, novelty discs that spliced snippets of contemporary hit tunes into comic scenarios, starting with the 1956 smash “The Flying Saucer Pts. 1 & 2”.

Goodman was born in Brooklyn on April 19, 1934. He was a struggling young songwriter when he and Buchanan came up with the idea of producing a comedy record based on Orson Welles’ “War of the Worlds” broadcast, using lines from rock records as answers to man-on-the-street questions. Goodman played the DJ while Buchanan acted as reporter “John Cameron Cameron”, a play on noted newsman and Timex pitchman John Cameron Swayze. The silliness gained airplay in New York, and soon went national, climbing to #3 on the Billboard charts:

 The song created quite a buzz among listeners, but some of the artists sampled (including Fats Domino) were not amused, suing Buchanan and Goodman for copyright infringement. The case went to court, and the judge ruled in the defendent’s favor, stating the record was a parody and as such considered a new piece of work. Buchanan and Goodman went on their merry way poking fun at virtually every fad or trend that came along. They even parodied their own legal battles with “Buchanan and Goodman On Trial”:

The duo eventually parted ways, and Goodman went solo, parodying every trend from TV crime shows (“The Touchables”) to monster movies (“Frankenstein of ’59”) to spy flicks (“James Bomb”). One of my favorites is Goodman’s take on the mid-60’s superhero camp craze, “Batman and His Grandmother”:

Goodman continued in this satirical vein spoofing politics with records like “On Campus”, “Watergate”, and “Mr. President”. He went toe-to-toe with “Mr. Rocky”, flew into space again with “Star Warts”, and had his biggest success ever with the 1975 spoof “Mr. Jaws”:

Dickie Goodman’s life took a turn for the worst in the 80’s when his wife left him. Heavily in debt due to his gambling addiction, Goodman shot himself on November 6, 1989. The party was over, but his legacy lives on. Goodman’s son Jon wrote a book on his father called “The King of Novelty” in 2000, which is still available on Amazon. Dickie Goodman’s “break-in” records brought loads of laughs to his listeners, and are still funny today as a nostalgic look back at the fads and foibles of yesteryear. I’ll leave you with one of his latter-day efforts, the Reagan-era “Mr. President”. Enjoy!

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