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Dickie Goodman: The King of Novelty

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Dickie Goodman (born Richard Dorian Goodman in 1934 – died in 1989), was an American music producer whose records specialized in comedy. He is credited for popularizing comedy and novelty genre of recording, especially for having introduced sound clips taken from popular songs as a wisecracking reply to the actors on the record, who posed as reporters. His material is not exactly “oldies music,” but it is sought-after by novelty records collectors. Goodman’s first parody record “The Flying Saucer Parts 1 & 2” is a prime example of this style, and also became his first major hit. This approach was unique and groundbreaking at that time. His other comedy records, some of them keeping abreast of the biggest issues then, were “Flying Saucer The 2nd,” “Energy Crisis ’74,” “Watergate,” “Mr. President” (based on Richard Nixon), his best-selling single “Mr. Jaws” (from the famous shark film Jaws) and others like “Ben Crazy,” “Batman & His Grandmother,” “Luna Trip,” “The Touchables,” etc. that spoofed movies, TV shows and other songs at those times. Goodman died in 1989, from an apparent suicide, aged 55. His inestimable work in the field of recorded comedy led him to be dubbed as the King of Novelty, and has influenced future comedians such as Weird Al Yankovic and Howard Stern.

Early years

Before Weird Al Yankovic popularized novelty songs and parodies, there was Dickie Goodman. Born on April 19, 1934 in Hewlett, New York, Richard Dorian “Dickie” Goodman was an American record producer. He is still considered one of the earliest proponents of sampling in music, which is called the “break-in” record format. It consists of fragments of popular tunes meshed together and infused with dialog in the form of a radio show or an interview. Although Goodman attended New York University, he dropped out of college to pursue singing and songwriting. He later met Bill Buchanan, a struggling music publisher in New York City.

“The King of Novelty”

Co-written by Bill Buchanan, Goodman issued his debut record in the summer of 1956, “The Flying Saucer Parts 1 & 2.” The song was a breakthrough hit, peaking at #3 on the Billboard pop chart in the same year. Despite the success of the record, Goodman was caught in a controversy when different labels sued him for copyright infringement for reworking Orson Welles’ radio show, War of the Worlds. But eventually, the judge favored Goodman affirming that the record was entirely a new work and that he did not copy another else’s work.

Throughout the 50’s, 60s, and 70s music eras, Goodman continued to release several song parodies which were lesser hits such as “The Second Flying Saucer,” “Touchables in Brooklyn,” and “Batman and His Grandmother,” among others. But in 1975, he scored another big hit with the song “Mr. Jaws” which peaked at #4 on the Billboard pop charts. By making a parody of the movie Jaws, it became a million-selling record, and was given with a gold disc.

Goodman released another single “Kong,” which parodied the 1976 King Kong film remake.  It also happened to be his final chart record, reaching #48 on the US pop chart. Throughout his career, all in all he had 17 hits which five of them made to the Top 40.

On November 6, 1989 at a relative’s home in Fayetteville, North Carolina, Goodman died of a self-inflicted gunshot. He was 55 years old. His son, Jon Goodman released a biography book of his father in 2000, The King of Novelty.

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