Thursday, January 31, 2013

"Who Shot J.R.?" by Gary Burbank with Band McNally

Song#:  0237
Date:  06/28/1980
Debut:  79
Peak:  67
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Novelty

Pop Bits:  From the mid-60s through to his last show in 2007, Burbank was a very successful radio personality. He worked for several stations before moving to WLW in Cincinnati in 1981 and remaining there and in syndication for the rest of his career. His novelty song "Who Shot J.R.?" was written about one of TV's most famous mysteries from the nighttime soap "Dallas." The whole thing was a major pop culture moment and everything from tee-shirts to this song capitalized on the popularity of this one moment in TV history. The phrase even played a part in the ongoing 1980 Presidential election with both sides of the aisle using the phrase. This song was released before the show's episode that revealed the shooter. It is also Burbank's only chart entry.

ReduxReview:  Novelty songs about a pop culture phenomena can be funny at the time, but their shelf life is extremely limited. Once the moment passes into history, so does everything else that went with it. On rare occasions, these songs are well-done and many years later can be a touchstone for a place in time and can be fun. This is not one of those. In fact, I'd probably say that this was horrible back when it was new and time just makes it even worse. I could barely listen to this, but I'll give it a point since it wasn't meant to be taken seriously to begin with.

Side note: I was in high school during the whole "Who Shot J.R." thing. At band camp, we had skit night with prizes for the best skit and one of the girls' cabins did a thing called "Who Shot P.B.," which were the initials of our band director. They seemed a shoe-in for the prize with their elaborate skit. That is until my cabin got up, stood in a line with towels around our shoulders, dropped them to reveal our no-shirt look, then proceeded to do a serious rendition of the "Blue Danube Waltz" singing the first part (dah-dah-dah-dah-dum), then making an underarm fart noise for the second part (pft-pft, pft-pft). We did a whole chours of it. We call ourselves the Pit Band. We won.

ReduxRating:  1/10

Trivia:  Burbank created many characters on his program with the most popular being "Earl Pitts," a redneck guy who would do commentary on many subjects. These bits are still in syndication and are played on hundreds of stations around the country.



  1. Holy Christ that is terrible. Not as terrible as that "America" loving song. But almost. This stinker might be slightly better than that George Burns one.

  2. If you watched Dallas back in the day, this song was brilliant! Would sure like to find a digital version to buy/download!

  3. Chart Run: 79 - 71 - 68 - 67 - 95