follow us in feedly
Alice Cooper loses his head & Danny Elfman (with Oingo Boingo) loses his mind on ‘The Gong Show’

Alice Cooper, the late Chuck Barris, and a devilish Danny Elfman.
Like everyone else of a certain age, I spent time this week mourning the loss of Chuck Barris, the one-of-a-kind game show king and the host of often questionable “talent” competition The Gong Show. I was old enough during the show’s run in the late 70s to never want to miss Barris’ antics, as well as the never-ending parade of hopeful weirdos who flocked to the show. If you’re young enough to be unfamiliar with The Gong Show, the best case scenario was that your act didn’t get “gonged” before you were done. Worst case scenario you got frantically “gang-gonged” by all three judges, but still got to fly your freak flag high to much of America. The prize for not getting gonged and coming away with the highest collective score? $516.32.

As I was busy being nostalgic watching a few vintage clips from the show, I came across a couple worth sharing. One features Alice Cooper (who called Barris one of his “favorite people in the world”) serenading him with “Goin’ Out of My Head” while stuck in his trusty guillotine. The other is a wildly out-of-control performance by cinema maestro Danny Elfman back in his Oingo Boingo days who at the time were still called The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo. Elfman and Oingo Boingo’s antics on stage were judged by none other than Gong Show regular Buddy Hackett, a solo Shari Lewis (Lambchop must have had the night off), and actor Bill Bixby of Incredible Hulk fame. Apparently, they loved what they saw as the Mystic Knights won the contest that episode.

Watch Alice Cooper and a young Danny Elfman on ‘The Gong Show’ after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
‘You Really Got Me’: Oingo Boingo’s spiky Kinks cover
10:31 am


Oingo Boingo

In a lot of ways, Oingo Boingo epitomized the stereotypical New Wave sound for Southern California, favoring the jagged rhythms and stilted, hiccuping vocals that typified that music for most casuals. Singer Danny Elfman’s bright red hair, eye makeup, and demented grin served as a perfect visual for the sound, and their zany name sealed their image. But Oingo Boingo’s horn-heavy large band approach to that sound reflected their origins as a performance-arty lounge act, and a deeply weird one, at that—witness their 1976 Gong Show appearance if you need convincing.

And if they were going to be New Wave standard bearers, it more or less behooved them to join in that wonderful tradition—arguably kicked off by DEVO’s cover of ‘Satisfaction,’ though one could make a case for the Sex Pistols’ version of “Stepping Stone” as the Ur-example—of crafting a spiky remake of a beloved song from the classic rock canon. So as the Slits did “I Heard it Through the Grapevine,” Flying Lizards indelibly warped “Money,” and Magazine made a twisted, menacing version of Sly Stone’s “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin),” Oingo Boingo’s debut album Only A Lad sported a cover of the Kinks’ “You Really Got Me.” As George Gimar’s eternally useful Punk Diary: The Ultimate Trainspotter’s Guide to Underground Rock, 1970-1982 notes:

There’s also a frenetic version of the Kinks’ song “You Really Got Me.” Danny Elfamn’s vocals sound very influenced by XTC’s Andy Partridge. They both have the same impassioned, at times hiccoughpy sound. Oingo Boingo are set apart by their big brass section and grandiose arrangements.

Here’s the album version, followed by some great audience-cam footage of a live performance from 1985. The live version’s sound isn’t the best, but it adequately captures an organic take on the song that makes the LP version feel a bit contrived and overwrought, in hindsight.


Previously on Dangerous Minds:
The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo on ‘The Gong Show,’ 1976
‘Satisfaction’ shootout: DEVO VS the Residents VS the Rolling Stones (spoiler: the Stones don’t win)

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
New on ‘My Dad Was in a Band’: My Dad was in Oingo Boingo!
03:42 pm


Danny Elfman
My Dad Was In A Band
Oingo Boingo

John “Vatos” Hernandez is seated on stool at left behind Danny Elfman

The latest from My Dad Was in a Band, the new blog that we’re co-presenting with Drafthouse Films.

This comes via Rio Hernandez, daughter of John “Vatos” Hernandez, Oingo Boingo’s drummer from 1980 to 1984:

Prior to Boingo, my dad played for Helen Reddy regularly and picked up many shows playing for others, Peter Allen, playing on The Johnny Carson Show, playing at Disneyland, etc. I can’t imagine how many times I saw Helen Reddy play. (MGM Las Vegas, The Midnight Special, et al). My earliest memories of seeing him play live date back to when I was 3 or so. I feel like I grew up carrying parts of his drum kit or standing in the wings.

He joined Boingo back when they were The Mystic Nights of the Oingo Boingo, and I have very vivid memories of seeing them in the beginning as they were very theatrical: Danny would come out dressed as the devil in white tails with glittery red horns. They project reels of old cartoons. At one point they all came out in gorilla suits. So, you can imagine that was pretty thrilling/wild for a kid (I was around 6/7 at this time). I loved their music & the show. Danny was was the first redhead I can recall meeting and I remember that alone seemed weird & intriguing. From that period on it was lots of shows at The Whiskey, The Roxy with tons of great Alt bands, going to the US Festivals etc. Growing up in the music business in the 1970s in Los Angeles (literally growing up), has definitely shaped me.

Below, “Little Girls”:

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Punk rocks ‘The Gong Show’ 1978

Static Cling get gonged on The Gong Show some time in 1978.

Status Cling wasn’t the band’s real name. It was The Barf and they were three skateboard punks from Southern California. Apparently they recorded an album’s worth of material but I can’t find any of it anywhere.

This reminds me a bit of The Dickies and Circle Jerks in Captain Sensible drag.

Oingo Boingo on The Gong Show after the jump…

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment