Artist

Dickie Goodman

Although Weird Al Yankovic gets most of the credit for popularizing novelty songs and parodies, the godfather of the genre is unquestionably Dickie Goodman.

Born on April 19, 1934, in Hewlett, NY, Goodman first came to the attention of the record-buying public in the '50s, when he scored a major hit with "The Flying Saucer," a song that nearly topped the U.S. pop charts (peaking at number three in 1956). As with all of Goodman's ensuing parodies, he used a then-unique method of sampling: he would act as a "reporter," while the responses from the "people" he was interviewing would be lines from pop artist's songs. Despite its success, Goodman's first hit caused some controversy when 17 different labels sued him for using samples without permission. But the judge in the case ultimately sided with Goodman, stating that "he had created a new work" and didn't simply copy another's work. Goodman continued to issue a steady stream of song parodies throughout the '50s and '60s (including such outlandish titles as "The Second Flying Saucer," "Touchables in Brooklyn," and "Batman and His Grandmother," among others), but failed to score another hit as big as "The Flying Saucer." But the phenomenon of the hit 1975 movie Jaws fueled Goodman's imagination, which resulted in probably his best-known song, "Mr. Jaws," which peaked on the U.S. pop charts at number four the same year and sold over 500,000 copies (Goodman's only recording to obtain gold certification). After 1977's single, "Kong," Goodman appeared to fall off the face of the earth, as he never managed to score another charting single, and he died in Fayetteville, NC, on November 6, 1989 (from an apparent suicide). Goodman's son, Jon Goodman, runs his father's estate, as his songs continue to be included on comedy compilations (especially via the Rhino label), while a biography, The King of Novelty, was issued as well. Goodman's influence continues to be felt, especially in the work of Yankovic and even radio personality Howard Stern, who has created quite a few parodies over the years patterned directly after Goodman's style. 1997 saw the release of a 39-track career overview, Greatest Fables. ~ Greg Prato, Rovi

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