1982 Buckner & Garcia – Pac-Man Fever
Jerry Buckner and Gary Garcia began working together to record music and released their first single in 1972. The record was Gotta Hear The Beat, credited to Animal Jack. It was a novelty record that consisted mostly of the title repeated over and over with some music in the background. I couldn’t listen to it all the way through even once.
The duo moved to Atlanta and appear to have worked for radio stations, writing jingles and doing voice work. In 1981 they released their first charting record, Merry Christmas In The NFL. This time the credit on the label went to Willis “The Guard” & Vigorish. Willis was a character played on Atlanta radio by Bob Carr, and Vigorish was a fake group name. The single peaked at #82 on the Hot 100 in 1980 but returned to the air every Christmas for years to come.
The duo finally struck gold when the hit video game Pac Man inspired them to create the single Pac Man Fever. When no major record label showed any interest in their song, they got it released by a local record company, BGO Records. Airplay on an Atlanta morning show produced instant local sales, after which CBS Records quickly signed them up for national distribution.
The single peaked at #9 on the Hot 100 and eventually sold over two million copies. The duo put together a group and appeared on American Bandstand. They showcased their hit single and also played their follow-up single, Do The Donkey Kong. It turned out that turning a video game into a hit single was more difficult than they thought, and the second single failed to reach the Hot 100 at all.
CBS Records wanted an album, so they recorded an entire album of video game-related songs that did not sell as well as the single did.
And then the party was over. They wrote and recorded the song E.T., I Love You based on the film, but Neil Diamond’s surprise release of the unauthorized song Heartlight prevented their song from even being released.
In the nineties, CDs all but put an end to vinyl records, but their record label refused to release their album on CD. The group reunited and re-recorded the songs from their album and released them on a CD. They even recorded a second album, which included a re-recording of E.T., I Love You.
Gary died in 2011.
Jerry became a successful arranger and songwriter. He wrote a song that Anne Murray turned into a top ten Country hit and he co-wrote Wreck It, Wreck-It Ralph! He wrote music for movie soundtracks and continued creating jingles for national campaigns.
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