Thursday, August 8, 2013

John Cafferty and The Beaver Brown Band: On The Dark Side

Today’s Thursday Repeats and Threepeats selection takes back to 1983 and 1984 to a single that was released twice – John Cafferty and The Beaver Brown Band’s “On the Dark Side.” I missed the song the first time it charted in October 1983 as I was working at album formatted WOAY-AM/FM in Oak Hill, West Virginia. To my knowledge, the song was not promoted to album radio and we didn’t play it.

Later the next spring, we went over to the dark side of Contemporary Hit Radio – and I must take the credit/blame for that move (depending on how you personally viewed it). It was really a good business decision, however, as our Arbitron ratings nearly tripled, our revenues increased, and we became a CHR reporting station for Radio&Records, Billboard, Cashbox, and The Gavin Report – and thus were immediately noticed by the record companies.

We began doing all kinds of promotions during that period and one was the Y-94 Hitmen. We urged businesses to write in and tell us that they were listening to the station at work and if we visited your business location and you were listening to the station – you got lunch from Pizza Hut and albums for up to 10 of your employees. We did our “hits” on the businesses about two or three times every week and I was pleased that most people we visited were actually listening to the station.

The problem with this was that our album stash was getting extremely low, so I asked the record companies to send me anything – good, bad, and indifferent recordings. CBS Records, which distributed the Scotti Brothers’ label, sent me two boxes of 25 copies of the Eddie and the Cruiser’s Soundtrack. The film was released the previous year and had bombed at the box office.

I hadn’t seen the movie at the time and didn’t know the premise of the storyline, but I found that when I visited a business and gave the employees a choice of albums — they were selecting the Eddie and the Cruisers’ soundtrack. I finally asked a young lady in Summersville, WV why she wanted that album over better known releases and I found out why. The movie was playing on HBO and it was becoming a sleeper hit on cable TV. While it did not generate much action in the theaters, it had now developed a cult-like following.

I researched the album and started playing “On the Dark Side” and it blew out the station’s phones anytime we played it. It was already well known from the movie and people wanted to hear it more frequently. Although it charted at #64 in the previous year, no one in our market heard the tune until the movie played the following summer on HBO.

The author & John Cafferty, 1986

This was not an isolated event, as the same thing occurred in other markets and Scotti Brothers re-released the single. Nearly a year later in September 1984 “On the Dark Side” was in the Top 10 having peaked at #9. Had the single gone gold, I am certain I would have received a gold record for it, but alas it didn’t and I didn’t. I got to see and meet John Cafferty during the summer of 1986 in Indianapolis. He was a pretty nice guy and I enjoyed the show.

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