In the height of the disco years, a Memphis-based DJ decided to mix it up with a tribute to a former ’60s song with the creation of Disco Duck.
Written by DJ Rick Dees, Disco Duck was inspired by 1960s novelty song The Duck, which took him a day to write, but three months to convince any musicians to record the song.
The story of the song is someone who decides to dance like a duck but is embarrassed, until he realizes everyone on the dance floor is emulating his slick moves.
Dees paired “duck” vocals with orchestral and disco sounds, and did a part one and part two for the single release. Although the song’s quirky oddity caught the ears of radio stations across the US, Dees station in Memphis refused to play the single and forbid Dees from playing it on his own show.
Dees had put together Rick Dees and his Cast of Idiots, and began performing around Memphis, and as the song grew in popularity, Dees landed the group a spot on American Bandstand. In October 1976, the song hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 charts.
Dees was fired from his radio station after speaking about the success of his single on his radio show and hired by the competition in Memphis. Meanwhile, the song was used in the1977 film Saturday Night Fever, during a scene where senior citizens are being taught how to disco.
I remember hearing this silly song, and not paying much attention to it – years later when I saw a segment on disco, it was cited as one of the horrible consequences of disco – although its intent was always being a novelty and not a true representative of a classic disco song.
Dees is still a successful DJ, now based in Los Angeles, and for music history, created a silly song that embodied the mid 1970s.