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‘Disco Duck’ by Rick Dees – Classic Hit or Miss

“Disco Duck” became a nationwide hit in the United States by September 1976. On the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, it peaked at number one on October 16, 1976, for one week, held the number-two spot for the following four weeks and remained in the Top 10 for a total of ten weeks.For all its success, “Disco Duck” was shunned by radio stations where Dees was living in Memphis, including WMPS-AM, the station Dees worked for at the time. Station management forbade Dees from playing the song on his own show and rival stations in the city refused to play it for fear of promoting the competition. When Dees talked about (but did not play) the song on his show one morning, his boss fired him citing conflict of interest. After a brief mandatory hiatus, Dees was hired by station WHBQ-AM, WMPS’s primary competition in Memphis.

By the time “Disco Duck” become a hit, Dees and his “Idiots” started making the rounds of the popular TV music shows to promote the song. On American Bandstand (and similar shows), Dees lip-synched to the recording, alone on stage with puppeteer Rickey Provow animating a duck puppet that he had made. Ironically, this appearance was never seen in the Memphis area due to then-ABC affiliate WHBQ-TV pre-empting Bandstand for wrestling[clarification needed] at the time and for the aforementioned Memphis radio avoidance reasons. But when Dees appeared on The Midnight Special and a live tour up the East Coast he gathered together a band, backing singers and a commercial artist, Michael Chesney to perform the duck vocals and did everything live.

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