Fonzie, Fonzie, He's Our Man - London 1976
One day in 1974, the top cats and fat dogs at ABC-TV witnessed the runaway success of nostalgic '50s-themed theatrical blockbuster American Graffiti and thought to itself, "Money." Next thing you know, Happy Days starring Tom Bosley is gracing the air, and everybody in America is tuning in every Tuesday night or whatever day it was on to see what wild and woolly antics Tom Bosley will get into this week. In the meantime, a greasy-haired motorcycle-riding punk character named Arthur "The Fonz" Fonzarelli (portrayed by the painfully shy Henry Winkler) began attracting a bit of interest himself, due to his smooth way with the ladies, his idiosyncratic manner of holding up both his thumbs while enfolding his other eight fingers into his palms, and his unique extended vocalization of the word "Hey."
First of all, I could have sworn he was saying "Aaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyy!," not "Heeeeeeeeeyyyyyyyyyyy!" but the important thing is that London Records, former home of such well-respected musical acts as The Moody Blues and The Rolling Stones, plunged to sub-Pickwick levels of crass ripoff-ocity in order to make a bit of cocaine money from the Happy Days phenomenon. Here, let me list some facts:
- FACT: No member of the Happy Days cast or crew appears on Fonzie, Fonzie, He's Our Man by The Heyettes
- FACT: Producer Jackie Mills is the same man responsible for defecating Davy Jones' 1971 solo album onto the defenseless face of the world.
- FACT: The (fake) voice of Fonzie appears on only 3 of these 11 songs -- and one of those is an "instrumental version" of one of the other two!!! Christ, you'd think since they don't have to pay 'actual Henry Winkler' wages, they'd be able to use 'The Fonz' in a few more songs, but now we're getting into opinion and this is a fact list.
- FACT: I can't find a single fact about chief songwriter "M.S. Fein." Maybe it was just a Jackie Mills pseudonym? Maybe he never worked in the business again because the album stinks to high Heaven?
- FACT: The Heyettes were not an actual band, and are in fact credited on the album (in almost unreadable dark print against a dark background) as "Voices of The Heyettes by:"
- FACT: 'Voice of a Heyette' Julia Tillman performed backing vocals on Carole King's legendary Tapestry LP in 1971. At the time, she was quoted as saying, "This is fine but I'd rather be singing stupid bullshit like 'Just stick your thumbs in the air and do the Fonz.'"
- FACT: Following the massive success of Fonzie, Fonzie, He's Our Man, 'Voices of two Heyettes' Julia Tillman and Maxine Willard reunited to sing backup on Peter Criss's abominable 1978 solo album. The album could only have benefited by the title Peter, Peter, He's Our Cat, but nobody suggested it and I can't go back in time now and fix it, it's too late.
- FACT: Third and final "Voice of a Heyette" Jessica Smith was a gospel-trained member of Hodges, James & Smith, a Motown creation that wound up signed to London in 1976. Presumably the CEO forced her at gunpoint to appear on this abortion of a record.
But Fonzie, Fonzie, He's Our Man wasn't just a sleazy idea for a quick buck; it's also a terrible album for the ages! You'd think that with such wide-ranging thematic concerns as "Fonzie For President," "Fonzie Fonzie Won't You Please Be Mine," "Arnold's Theme," "Sit On It," "Do The Fonz," "The Fonz Song" and "The Fonz Song (Instrumental)," it would represent an exegesis of sociopolitical theory sufficiently compelling to at least plant a seed of discord among the underground, with the hope of one day blossoming into the beautiful flower of irreversible cultural revolution. Instead, it's just a bunch of lousy doowop.
The Heyettes do not sound good together. Their voices are thin and completely lack personality. The main problem is that, regardless of each singer's individual background and talents, the three are herein forced to sing all the exact same notes at the exact same time - with maybe a chorus-ending harmony per track as proof that it's not just one girl with three mouths. Although that'd be great for me cuz I have three dicks. That's a great line. Feel free to use that on a woman you want to date. Another great one is to greet a woman with large breasts by saying "And how are you two today?" Larry on Three's Company did that all the time, and he literally drowned in muff one day. Or at least that's what Mr. Furley thought happened, from a conversation he overheard.
Plus, most of the songs are the most rudimentary sax/bass/piano/drums '50s doo-wop you'll ever encounter. Songs so bland that you know nobody even bothered writing them -- they just came out of the instruments one day while everyone was smoking a jointer. There are a few attempts at more contemporary songwriting but, as this was 1976, they came out as vomitous pop-disco. Adding insult to insult, a few of the songs have nothing to do with The Fonzie! "Cruisin' On A Saturday Night" and "Really Rock And Roll" are just bad nostalgia exercises, and "Arnold's Theme" - as lovely a flute tune as it is - has no lyrics at all. It's not like it took fifteen Poet Laureates to come up with lyrics like "Who's cool, not a nerd? Quit school without a word!" So why were they only able (or willing) to do so in 5 of 11 songs? Had they just not seen the show enough to write a song about Tom Bosley like they should have? Here, I'll write one:
"He's overweight and reading a newspaper
Always pulling some outrageous caper
He's Richie's Dad; he's in a trash bag commercial
His favorite Gordon Lewis is "Blood Feast" director Herschell.
'Cuz he's Tom Bosley!
Star of the show
He's Tom Bosley!
Look at 'em go
He's Tom Bosley!
He doesn't go 'Aaaaaaaaaaaaaay!'
He's Tom Bosley!
His left ball is gay.
Yes, it's too bad I was only three years old when they made this album because I could have made it bigger than Michael Jackson's Thriller was at the time. First and foremost - MORE (fake) FONZIE! The reason that "The Fonzie Song" is the only good song on the album is because his little asides are so hilariously bone-headed! Examples include:
- "The first girl on the back of my bike gets me! Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeyyyyyyyyy!"
- (when he means "Don't just stand there") "Just don't STAND there!"
- "Hey, don't be a NERD!"
- (in response to the sung lyric "Who never sits on it?") "The FONZ!"
There's also a great bit at the end of the otherwise abysmal "Fonzie For President" where he says, "My platform is uhh.... two bikes in every garage, and two chicks everywhere."
So if it's good times you're after, look no further than the CBS show that knocked Happy Days out of the Top 30 for its entire second season!
Actually, Jimmie "J.J." Walker has an album too. This is going to shock you, but it's entitled Dy-No-Mite!
I know!!! I couldn't believe it either!!!