On this day in music history: July 2, 1979 – “Mickey Mouse Disco” is released. Produced by Jymn Magon, it is recorded at Audio Media Recording Studios in Nashville, TN from Early – Mid 1979. With disco permeating the culture unlike anything before it, its influence is everywhere. Eventually the Walt Disney Studios jumps on board to cash in. In January of 1977, Disney revives The Mickey Mouse Club as “The New Mickey Mouse Club” as a syndicated TV series. Featuring a new group of Mouseketeers that includes future Facts Of Life star Lisa Whelchel, Allison Fonte, Curtis Wong, Kelly Parsons, and Scott Craig, the series runs for 130 episodes through January of 1979. During its first season, the actors record an up tempo discofied version of the “Mickey Mouse March”. Titled “Disco Mouse (Mickey Mouse March)”, the song is released as a single by Buena Vista Records. Though not a success, it sets the wheels in motion for an even more ambitious project. Producer Jymn Magon proposes that Disney record a disco album aimed at children, featuring both original songs and four on the floor covers of evergreens like “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah”, “It’s A Small World” and “Chim Chim Cher-ee”. Disney executives join forces with a company called Odyssey Productions out of Nashville, TN to record the album. Musicians and studio singers including Dennis Burnside, Pat Patrick, Paul Whitehead and Jack Jackson are hired to play on the album and write new songs. Titled “Mickey Mouse Disco”, the nine song album is ironically titled as the voice of Mickey Mouse is not heard on it. Though other Disney characters like Donald Duck (“Macho Duck”) and Goofy (“Watch Out For Goofy!”), are represented. Issued at a time when the disco is on the wane, the album initially attracts little attention. Then Disney’s marketing department comes up with the idea of promoting the record with TV commercials, as well as offering it for sale as a direct mail order item as well as at retail. The plan works brilliantly, and by April of 1980, “Mickey Mouse Disco” races past the Gold mark in sales. Realizing that they’re on to something unique, Disney also sells numerous merchandising tie-ins. It also spins off a program, featuring classic Disney animated footage synched up to the music. Aired incessantly on the Disney Channel during the 80’s, it also propels the album’s sales. Its blend of kitsch, humor and family friendly appeal turn it into one of the biggest children’s albums of all time, selling more than two million copies in the US alone. Reissued briefly on CD in 1995, “Mickey Mouse Disco” is reissued as a limited edition vinyl LP for Record Store Day in April of 2019, for its fortieth anniversary. “Mickey Mouse Disco” peaks at number thirty five on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
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