The Rock Hall has failed to induct —- or even acknowledge — hundreds of bands that should be in it: Journey (“Only Solutions”), Kiss (“Beth”), Michael Stanley (“My Town”). But it was still a fresh slap in the face to local music aficionados when, for the third year in a row, the Hall failed to nominate Akron’s Buckner and Garcia, the 1980s songwriting force best known for 1981’s “Pac-Man Fever.”
Sure, the Black Keys are hot shit now, but Buckner and Garcia was the original Rubber City duo. According to Wikipedia, the dynamic duo’s star-crossed saga began with a 1980 collaboration, the holiday song “Merry Christmas in the NFL,” which cast Jewish Howard Cosell as Santa Claus, much to the sportscaster’s chagrin. They produced a genuine Ohio anthem in 1982 when hired to extend the theme from WKRP in Cincinnati into a full single. That was their breakout year.
The year 1982 also saw the duo record the smash single “Pac-Man Fever” to commemorate a booming new fad: videogames. It crested at No. 9 on the Billboard singles chart, selling more than a million copies. Columbia Records signed the group and twisted their arm into recording an entire album of video-game-themed songs, also titled Pac-Man Fever. It moved 900,000 copies.
If history remembers the near-platinum duo at all, it’s as one-hit wonders who scored a hot novelty song. But the tune was prescient. Videogames would go on to account for seven percent of the U.S. economy (if you include iPhone apps; in Japan, the figure is closer to 45 percent). And their lack of status serves as a backhand slight to classic videogames. Resident Evils 1-5 haven’t spawned a hit song. (OK, sure, they’ve inspired three movies — but YOU try finding three minutes of musical musings about Centipede or Berzerk.)
B&G relocated to Atlanta in the ‘70s. They continue recording, performing instrumentals and original songs for Waffle House jukeboxes. (Seriously.) You can visit them here.
So, Rock Hall, you done good by inducting Metallica and Run-DMC. But if you’re truly going to embrace popular culture, it’s time to welcome Buckner and Garcia, two local-cats-done-well. Because “Pac-Man Fever” is still driving us crazy.
(Certain facts or elements from this story may be blatantly fabricated, incorrect or wildly exaggerated to fit the author’s suspect argument, which may or may not be genuine.) —D.X. Ferris