Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Hooters: And We Danced

A group named for their nickname for an obscure musical instrument, The Hooters burst on the musical scene in 1985 with their album “Nervous Night” with four singles in Billboard’s Top 100. The first to chart in the Top 40 was their up-tempo “And We Danced.”

While the second single “And We Danced” was their first Top 40 hit peaking at 21, the first single “All You Zombies” received initial airplay on album radio, where it peaked on the AOR charts at 11 and the singles charts at 58. “Nervous Night” produced two other singles: “Where Do the Children Go” and “Day by Day,” which was their most successful single in the U.S. peaking at 18.

The Hooters music is often laden with social and religious overtones and unique instrumentation that is not normally found on rock recordings. On a 1990 release, “Brother Don’t You Walk Away,” Eric Bazilian plays an Appalachian dulcimer and recorder. Rob Hyman plays a Cajun accordion on the hurricane inspired, “Karla with a K” from 1988.

Rob Hyman is holding the Hohner Melodica (i.e., Hooter)

The group took their name from the nickname for the Hohner Melodica that Rob Hyman plays on “And We Danced” as well as he and Eric Bazilian play other tunes. While the Melodica is a brand name, other instruments under different brands and models tend to be also referred to as Melodicas, much like Kleenex is used for all tissue brands and Xerox for all photocopiers. This linguistic phenomenon is called a metonymy. The Melodica or "hooter" has become the band’s trademark and hence their name.

Rob Hyman and me, March 2, 1986

The unique combination found on “And We Danced” and other Hooters tunes is that of a Melodica and mandolin. This attracted me to the tune in the first place as I had been playing mandolin since 1973 and always wanted a Melodica (still want one – insert Christmas hint here).

Eric Bazilian and me, March 2, 1986

When I had a chance to meet the band in 1986 in Charleston, WV, I asked them the question – “What was the first song that made the top 40 charts that had both a Melodica and a mandolin?” Eric Bazilian wasn’t aware of anyone before them using both, although there are a number of examples of one or the other. The answer, the 1975 hit by Orleans – “Dance with Me.”

I found the band very congenial, Rob and Eric chatted with me about music, signed a copy of their first LP: Baby Grand’s debut album on Arista, and Eric gave me one of his guitar picks from the show.

Having played all four singles from “Nervous Night” as well “Hanging on a Heartbeat” as program director of WOAY-FM, Columbia Records awarded me a gold album/cassette for “Nervous Night.” It is prominently displayed on my office wall – near my Cyndi Lauper platinum LP which has “Time after Time” co-written by Lauper and Rob Hyman.

There is one last connection I have to this band. In 1986, three members of the Beckley based five-piece band “Audio Game” reformed with a new bassist as “The Game.” I had an opportunity to play mandolin, harmonica (the closest we could get to Melodica), and sing lead on “And We Danced” as part of our repertoire. These are great musical memories all around from the 1980s.


  1. Thanks for the walk down memory lane with convergent lives. I was living in WV at the time the photos above were taken, and was a big fan of The Hooters. Thanks for the background story!

  2. I hope you got a chance to see them when they played here. It was a great show. Thanks for stopping by.