Born Richard Dorian Goodman, 19 April 1934, Hewlett, New York
Together with his partner, Bill Buchanan (1930-1996), Dickie Goodman is the originator of the novelty "break-in" record, a recording technique that involved weaving short snippets of hit recordings into a narrative story, usually in the form of a news report. The first one of these, the mother of all break-in records, was "The Flying Saucer, Parts 1 & 2" (1956). Set against an Orson Welles-type "War of the Worlds" framework, it featured Goodman as a reporter named John Cameron Cameron, who broadcasted the landing of a spaceship from Mars. It was the first time someone sampled and mixed someone else's recording and used it in their own work. Seventeen labels tried to sue Goodman and his partner for the use of their tracks. After a barrage of legal wrangling, the courts ruled that a new work had been created that was a modern version of burlesque and therefore was original.
Buchanan and Goodman formed a songwriting/production partnership in the spring of 1956. Goodman had previously studied law at NYU and wrote songs in his spare time. One day, while working on a song together, they came up with the idea of a disc jockey show being interrupted by reports of a flying saucer. "The flying saucers are real!", said Goodman and suddenly a line from "The Great Pretender" by the Platters ("Too real when I feel what my heart can't conceal") came to him, along with the idea to use it in the report. And that set the pattern. They wound up using three different studios to compile the tape.
After several record companies had rejected the demo of "The Flying Saucer", it was George Goldner who took a chance with the novelty and released it on a new label, Universe Records, renamed Luniverse when he found out that there was already another company with the same name. With the support of Alan Freed, Jack Lacy and other New York deejays, "Flying Saucer" was an immediate success, peaking at # 3 on the Billboard charts in the summer of 1956.
In addition to the use of cutting and splicing, "The Flying Saucer" used a speeded up human voice to create the voices of the aliens, a technique that would appear in such other intergalactic classics as Sheb Wooley's "The Purple People Eater," but would be brought to its greatest height by Ross Bagdasarian aka David Seville, first in his 1958 number one "Witch Doctor", and then with the Chipmunks.
Employing a similar zany interview style as on "Flying Saucer", Buchanan and Goodman scored follow-up hits with "Flying Saucer the 2nd" (# 18) and "Santa and the Satellite" (# 32). For several years, the duo continued making break-in and novelty records, sometimes together, sometimes alone or with other partners. The team split up in 1959. Bill Buchanan started to concentrate on songwriting and producing, but Goodman continued his hit run with a series of topical releases. Where other hitmakers whose success is based on a gimmick usually have a (very) short career, Dickie Goodman kept making break-in records almost until the end of his life, and scored seventeen chart entries between 1956 and 1977. In 1975 he had another Top 10 hit (# 4) with "Mr. Jaws", inspired by the Spielberg movie. Goodman also worked as a jingle writer for 20th Century Fox and as a comedy writer for the Ed Sullivan Show and for a number of stand-up comedians. He died of a self-inflicted gunshot at his son's home, in November 1989. His wife had left him and he had a serious gambling addiction.
The break-in record was a true innovation and though it soon became stale, the genre survived well into the 1980s. Many break-in recordings have a political theme, not only those by Goodman, but also for instance "Report To the Nation" by Winkly and Nutly" (about the 1960 presidential campaign) and "Convention '72" by the Delegates, a # 8 hit in 1972. A unique example of a break-in novelty is "The Return Of Jerry Lee" by Jerry Lee Lewis, from 1958, released by Sun Records after his disastrous tour of the British Isles.
More info : http://www.chuckthewriter.com/goodman.html
Acknowledgements : Chuck Miller, Rob Finnis (liner notes for Ace 980).
Dik, May 2012
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