By Budd Bailey, Buffalo Sports Page Columnist
Here’s a story that’s been keeping a social distance from the public for 34 years. Call it, “How I Became a Hyphenate in the Music Business for a Day.”
It was January, 1986. The Chicago Bears had just marched through the rest of the NFL in devastating fashion, winning the Super Bowl in a rout in the process. The team’s theme song during that run was “The Super Bowl Shuffle,” which was essentially an excuse to cash in on the team’s popularity with a rap song and music video. It worked well, and spread throughout the country.
A handful of days before that, the Sabres had made a coaching change. Jim Schoenfeld was out, and Scotty Bowman was in. Buffalo had made such moves with depressingly regularity in the previous six years or so, and this had a “what difference will this move make?” feel to it.
I knew I should write something about this latest move in the Sabres organization, but I wasn’t sure how to express it. At some point, after the Bears’ ultimate victory, the light bulb went on. Could I do some sort of parody about the Sabres’ churning of coaches and use it in a song?
The first part was easy. I went down to Record Theater and looked at the single. The B side, as we in the industry used to say, had a purely instrumental version of the Bears’ song. Perfect. One edit was all it took to play non-stop for a few minutes.
I hid out in the sports office of my employer at the time, WEBR Newsradio 970, and started writing different lyrics. It came together relatively quickly – three different voices giving an interpretation of events surround the Sabres. Schoenfeld and Bowman were easy, and I opted to go with Norty Knox for the third part because his name was easier to say than his brother Seymour during a rap song.
From there, I started working with Dave Kerner to tune up the lyrics a bit and plan the recording of the song. We both agreed that of the members of the staff at the time, afternoon anchor and good sport Bruce Allen was the man for the job. Bruce agreed, and at some appropriate time we went into one of the recording studios.
I voiced the section for Schoenfeld, Bruce was Knox, and Dave was Bowman. The three of us joined together on the chorus. It took a lot of work until I was satisfied we had a take that we could use, but finally we came up with it.
That’s when I became a “hyphenate” – someone who fills more than one role in a particular entertainment production. You’ve heard of director/actor? I was a writer/producer/performer for “The Scotty Shuffle.”
At this point, it’s necessary for you to hear what the finished product sounded like. I kept a copy and now have converted it into a file that could be heard in this format after sitting on the shelf for decades. Ladies and gentlemen, just click on “The Scotty Shuffle” to give it a listen (hit the play button on the next page), as the song sees the light of day for the first time in 34 years.
Once I finished, I got nervous. How would this go over? Would the Sabres kick me out of the press box forever? Would people hate it? It was a long weekend.
I think the song was first played very early on a Monday morning, before I was even awake. After its conclusion, people called the radio stations to ask when it was airing again. The same thing happened a couple of hours later when it ran for the second time. Mike St. Peter, our news director turned music executive, knew a good thing when he heard it, because he quickly scheduled it three more times during the rest of the day. He also made sure it was played during weekend programming a few times.
I was relieved at the response, but then things started to get really silly. I heard that one of the rock radio stations in town, WPHD, had gotten requests for the tune. Record Theater had people coming in and asking how they could buy it. Jim Baker, who was writing a radio/television column for some local newspaper, did a column on it.
Later on, I heard a fine story about the song from Sabres’ public relations director Gerry Helper. He said Bowman came up to him one day and asked, “What’s this about some sort of Scotty Shuffle song?” Helper pleaded ignorance … and then giggled to himself later about it.
That commotion about the song eventually came to an end, and the Sabres went back to their sinking ways. Even I couldn’t change the team’s direction in my new job as the team’s PR assistant that fall. Bowman was shown the door that December, and I was out of the music business for good.
But, it sure was fun while it lasted.
(Follow Budd on Twitter @WDX2BB)