Disco Sucks is enshrined at #10 on Dr. Demento's TOP 25 FUNNY SONGS OF 1979...  Click on banner below and have a look!



See DISCO SUCKS at #61 on the TOP 100 BEST NOVELTY SONGS OF ALL TIME (at DIGITAL DREAM DOOR song research center).... Click on the banner below and have a look!


DISCO SUCKS Album cover photo shoot .... Photographer Eileen Warner (center)

    It was mid-1978. We had our first record album out, and we thought we were doing good because a dozen or so radio stations were playing "My Girl Passed Out In Her Food." We we're booked months in advance, six nights a week, mostly between Phoenix and Tucson; with a bi-monthly mini-tour in the San Francisco Bay Area on the strength of KFAT Radio http://kfat.com airplay.
     We were feeling the stirings of the anti-Disco attitude in those days, but were to fully realize how strong it was when we were playing one night at THE STUMBLE INN in Tucson. We'd finished a song, when a disco-styled dude stood up and yelled loudly, "Play Some Disco!" He knew we didn't play disco, he was just heckling.  So I called to the band to gimme a disco-beat-music-groove, which they did. We then started chanting, "Disco sucks... Disco sucks...Disco sucks." Well, the crowd, which was maybe 250 to 300 people, erupted into cheers of approval. We all knew instantly that we needed to do something with this powder keg of potential. The next week, we were in Flagstaff, doing a week stand at the Museum Club. We had spare time in the daytime, so I suggested to the four songwriters in the band that we all write an anti-disco song, and all judge which was best. Scott's version was voted the best. So we worked it up and started playing it nightly to the same reaction every time we played it, vociferous approval. It helped that we were playing 'country rock' venues near colleges and universities.
     We became anxious and determined to record and distribute this dynamite. As we were entertaining album title ideas, a bumper sticker was noticed that read DISCO SUCKS/COUNTRY SWINGS. That seemed like a good title. I argued against having the word "Sucks" as part of an album title, because it might hurt our career; whereupon Scott pointed out that we didn't have much of a career, so what the hell? So, the title agreed upon was COUNTRY SWINGS, DISCO SUCKS. Into the recording studio! Full speed ahead...
     Recording the two parts of the song was alot of fun. We used lots of sound effects, including the toilet flush where you can even hear the stopper in the reservoir drop to commence refill. It was a nervous moment when a thousand dollar Sennheiser microphone was placed inside the toilet bowl. You hope it does'nt fall off the stand and into the water; and if it does, who gets to use it next?
     All went well with the entire second album process. We recorded some good supporting songs, like "Carolinda" and "Home Where The Heart Is." The cover art was looking good, thanks to photographer, Eileen Worner. The cover photo was shot at the Farmer John's meat packing plant at Grant & I-10 in Tucson that has a wonderful mural that wraps around the whole building. 
Everything came together; promo packages were assembled and addressed. Each band member picked up eighty packages and headed for the post office. A new release was out on Wagon Tracks Records.
      One method I had of finding out who was playing us, or not, was including a stamped, self addressed, postcard in the package. Each card had five little boxes the radio folks could choose from to check off.The choices to check off were: Will play a lot... Will play some... Thinkin' about it... Won't play...and, Hell No, Won't Play. I only got a few Hell No, Won't Plays. 
    Anyway, within a week of the mass mailing, the cards started coming in. Lots of cards! Like all of them! I was getting letters from radio stations I'd never heard of. And lots of phone calls. Mostly from AOR stations (Album Oriented Rock). Monster 50,000 watt Stations, in mega-markets like L.A., Chicago, and New York. Armed Forces Radio got hold of our record; they are syndicated world wide! Stations behind the Iron Curtin were airing it! The King Of Nepal sent a jacket with the Wheels logo and some squiggly Nepalese writing embroidered on it! British Airways made it available to the first class passengers in their headphones!
     I even got a call from Ken Burkhart (mean anything to you? Well, me neither... at the time). He stated he needed me to "service" all of his 200 AOR subscribers immediately! "Not Tommorrow... Now!" I had no clue who he was, what he was talking about, or what he really wanted. I ask him if he wanted me to send him 200 records? He said, "NO!" And I could tell he wanted to say, "No, you stupid bastard!" He said, "No, I want you to send them to all the AOR stations that subscribe to our programming service." Then he asked, "Who owns the record label?" I answered, "Well, me and uhh, the bass player." He then asked, "Well then, who is your manager?"  I answered, "That would be me, I guess." The last thing I heard, before the phone line went dead, was him grumbling out the name of GOD's only son, including his middle name, that I think was incorrect.
     I was puzzled by the grumpy guy's call. What the hell did he mean by "subscribers" and "programming service?" I thought, to hell with 'em. Probably just some jerk trying to score some free records. And besides, I had leave for our first gig in Denver in a couple hours. 
     O.K. ...We did the six night stand in Denver, and I came home to a stack of phone messages and mail a foot high. Of course, my  girlfreind, on the phone, mentioned all the mail/messages/cards piling up, but I'd be home soon, and deal with it then. Do you realize how hard it is to perform high energy music for four hours a night, while drinking like a fish, social smoking in the parking lot, and having to deal with your pounding head all morning?. Not to mention, you're in a new city with a brewery tour, Elitch Gardens amusement park, music stores, museums, etc. Who the hell had time for business?! And besides, a major label would be calling soon and take care of everything. And they did call. 
     So, we got back from the Denver gig. I was examining the mail, messages, and 'Will Play' cards. A message from Alan Browning caught my attention because he was the program director for the, then very popular, local Tucson AOR station, KWFM. It was a "call-me-urgent" message. I called, he came to the phone and asked, "Did you know that Burkhart/Abrams in Atlanta sent out a special directive to add "Disco Sucks", if you can get it, in heavy rotation to all their subscriber stations?" KWFM was such a station and had "Disco Sucks" in Heavy rotation. "Huh.. What the...  Atlanta?" I thought. Then I remembered and asked, "Oh yeah, Burkhart. I talked to that grump last week. Who is that guy?" It was a good thing Alan layed it out for me so even a six year old could understand. Alan told me Burkhart/Abrams was probably the most powerful radio programing service in the world. I'd been handed a platinum record on a silver platter! ...So now what?
     Well... the first thing I did was return a call from Jimi Fox of Mercury Records. I knew Jimi from his Tucson days as a DJ. He kinda hung with the Stinky Felix band I was in some years back. Stinky Felix gave him producer credit on the 45rpm single we did; to at least assure local airplay. I didn't know he was an A&R (arranging and recording) guy with Mercury, but I was glad. After talking with Jimi, I got the idea that we had a record deal. Just a few details needed "tweaking" with the Mercury brass, including Jerry Kennedy.
     Amongst the other messages was Capitol Records wanting me to sign with them, because we had, "worked so well together in the past" (see discography: "Hells Angels 69"), and the "success" of our local rivals, The Dusty Chaps, was cited. The Chaps success in Tucson was why Scott and I started the WHEELS, as a joke, on Monday nights at the Stumble Inn, where the Chaps were the house band, and on Capitol Records. Also, there was a message from Mel Taylor, the drummer for The Ventures.  www.theventures.com Mel had managed the band I was in during the Hells Angels '69 album period. Management Problem Solved. 
     A letter from Dr. Demento http://drdemento.com  said he had included "Disco Sucks" on his syndicated show (200+ stations nationwide) to be broadcast this Saturday! "Disco Sucks" is still enshrined at #10 on Dementos's Top 25 Funny Songs of 1979. Things were lined up and rocketing so fast that my next big decision was, what color should my Corvette be?   

              THEN IT HAPPENED!


    JULY 12, 1979




    The "Disco Demolition" is what happened! And caused the Chuck Wagon And The Wheels sky rocket to flame out and crash down much faster than it went up! 
You see... WLUP in Chicago was playing the song in heavy rotation.  Wacky DJ, Steve Dahl, was really working it as the centerpiece of his Disco Sucks crusade! WLUP and Dahl came up with a stunt they promoted as a "Disco Demolition." The plan was: everybody bring disco records to Comisky Park. Between games of the double-header, between the White Sox and the Tigers, the disco records were to be blown-up out on the playing field while everybody chants, Disco Sucks... Disco Sucks. Yeah, big fun! The only problem was, it was "50 cent Beer Night" too. Can you see the problem already? Everybody knows explosions, alcohol, and disco don't mix.
     Fifty thousand drunken disco haters were in the stands, twenty thousand more trying to get into the ball park, flags were flying, banners were proudly displayed. Then Dahl lit the fuse to the charge that blew up the disco records piled up on the field. The drunken mob began to riot! They poured onto the playing field, stole the bases, and ruined the grass. Securityforces were badly out-numbered and totally ineffective. The media swarmed in to cover the riot. And, to top it all off, they cancelled the second game of the double header! That was totally shocking, and downright un-American! The very first time in history, a second game was cancelled for a reason besides weather! A riot cancellation! Well, of course it made the national news... big time! The national media villified the disco haters, making comparisons to the Nazi book burners, and lynch mobs. When I saw the news broadcasts the next day, I thought, Yes! More fuel for the rocket! But I was dead wrong. Disco Sucks disappeared from the airwaves quicker than you can say, "Bye-Bye Vette!" The FCC didn't have to tell anyone to do anything, and they were ready to. All, but a handful of radio stations pulled "Disco Sucks" off the air.
    So... suffice to say, all deals were off. We spent the next five years trying to relight the fuse to that rocket again. But, you know, the ripples from that few weeks can still be seen, if you really look. Our career did pick up, and continued for years after. It was all a great hoot!  And, truth be told, I would have killed myself in that damn jet-black Corvette. After all, drunk driving back then was considered a sport.

That's my story and it's stickin to me...  Chuck "Wagon" Maultsby    Aug. 2006

chuck wagon and the wheels

The first week of Radio Tracking...

                                                                                                                   A Letter From Dr. DEMENTO