Friday, April 26, 2013

The Hooters Celebrate 33 1/3 Years!: Philadelphia Band Started Out Playing Ska & Reggae

There is a great story in about the 33rd anniversary of The Hooters very first show in the Philadelphia suburbs in 1980. It also includes an excellent interview with the band's drummer David Uosikkinen. The band, which also features co-fromtmen Eric Bazilian and Rob Hyman is playing a reunion show tomorrow night at the Electric Factory in Philadelphia.

The Hooters started out as a bar band playing punk-influenced reggae and ska cover songs and took their name from the melodica (AKA: Hooter) that was featured on many of their songs. Their very first recording, was a demo of Don Drummond’s ‘Man In The Street’ which was played a lot on local radio though never released commercially.  I didn't know at the time that it was a cover, but I remember thinking it was an amazing song. Only later did I make the connection that it was a great version of what has become one of my favorite Don Drummond/Skatalites songs.

Check out live versions of "Fighting On The Same Side" and a rocking version of "Man In The Street" recorded in 1982 which really give a sense of the bands great reggae and ska meets rock sound and of the kind of local draw they had in Philadelphia.

The band became so popular in the early 80's that they opened for The Who's farewell tour concert show in September 1982 at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia on a bill that also included The Clash. After taking a break following this show (during which Bazilian and Hyman wrote songs for Cyndi Lauper's debut "She's So Unusual" including "Time After Time"), the two frontmen reformed the band with Uosikkinen and new members.

It was this version of the band would go on to record and independently release the album Amore which included ska and reggae influenced versions of their original songs. This led to them signing a deal with Columbia Records and they re-recorded a few of their ska sounding songs as rock songs on Nervous Night and went on to MTV fame.

Once again it is interesting to see the way ska and reggae has really influenced and changed the sound of so many bands. Frankly, I've always been disappointed that The Hooters didn't stick with the ska and reggae sound they started off with.  If they had, they could have been responsible for bringing the sound into the mainstream and on to American radio.


Anonymous said...

I was at that 1982 concert. Someone threw an orange at Joe Strummer...but The Hooters were great, although their set was very short.

I remember seeing The Hooters play at the Philadelphia Zoo around then, as well. They had a clearly ska-influenced sound - not that I knew that at age 12 or 13.

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Anonymous said...

Saw them at the steps of the Art Museum; trying to find the date.