Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: Seeing “The Simpsons Movie” brings to mind a question that seems right up your alley.

The Sideshow Bob character, voiced by Kelsey Grammer, is given the full name Robert Underdunk Terwilliger.

I have no idea where they came up with this name, one I'd never heard before, but a friend told me there is a Classical guitarist whose name is Terwilliger.

In searching for more information about this musician, I came up empty. I did, however, find a reference to a Folk-Rock artist named Lucious Terwilliger. Is he the jazz guitarist?

Do you know of this player?.
—Jamie Kilgore, Gig Harbor, Wash.

DEAR JAMIE: Though his middle name is not Underdunk, the guitarist you describe is probably Steve Terwilliger.

Not strictly a Classical guitarist, Steve is equally renowned for his Jazz and Rock recordings.

Here is how he describes himself:

“I have been playing the guitar for over 30 years and been in many groups and bands all over the United States.

“I have also performed solo nationwide, and have recorded a number of CDs through the years as well as recorded for a number of other artists.”

As for Lucious Terwilliger, they are not a “he.” This is the name of a quartet whose members include no Terwilligers. They are: Ken Langford (vocals, guitar); Stu Berens (lead guitar); Steve Hartman (bass); and Steve Solko (drums).

Lucious Terwilliger's most recent album is the 2006 Random Enterprises release “Folk Paw.”

Depending on who is asked, one is likely to hear either of two very different origins of the name Terwilliger on the Simpsons — neither of which involve musicians.

Notion No. 1 is based on the show's creator, Matt Groening, being born and raised in Portland, Oregon.

We know several of the characters have names identical to major streets in Portland: (Ned) Flanders, (Rev. Timothy Lovejoy, (Janey and Herb) Powell, (Mayor “Diamond” Joe) Quimby, (Milhouse) Van Houten; and Kearney (Zzyzwicz).

One of the major arteries on the city's south side is SW Terwilliger Blvd.

Notion No. 2 believers claim the name is inspired by the 1953 Oscar-nominated film, “The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T.”

In this musical fantasy, the only feature film written by Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel), Hans Conried plays the sinister Dr. Terwilliker, of the Terwilliker Institute.

To me, the undeniable Portland connection seems a more likely choice than being inspired by a differently spelled name borrowed from a 1953 film.

DEAR JERRY: What is regarded as the first No 1 Disco hit?

Also, what is the first No. 1 song with the word Disco in the title?
—Brian Lofton, Las Cruces, N.M.

DEAR DISCO BRIAN: In keeping with the Simpsons theme, it would have been great for these questions to have come from Disco Stu. Hopefully he will at least appreciate the mention.

The first question is reminiscent of the ink we once devoted to picking the first Rock & Roll hit. Both are, in part, subject to individual opinions and endless debate.

As a club dee jay in the 1970s and early '80s, I recall our dance crowd requesting many Rock, Soul, and Funk hits of the past because they fit right in with their Disco moves. Still, by not being authentic Disco recordings, they are not the answer.

My pick requires we jump ahead to April 1974, for “TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia),” by MFSB Featuring the Three Degrees. Now that's a indisputable Disco number.

Three months later the second Disco No. 1 came along, “Rock Your Baby,” by George McCrae.

After that the Disco floodgates opened wide.

The first No. 1 hit with Disco in the title is “Disco Lady,” by Johnnie Taylor (April 1976), followed in October by “Disco Duck,” by Rick Dees and His Cast of Idiots.

IZ ZAT SO? The '70s is rightfully known as the Disco decade; however, it is not the first Disco go-round. The original Disco era ran from 1964 through '66.

Even being overshadowed by the British Invasion, plenty of Disco and Discotheque albums still came out during those three years.

A few appropriately-titled compilations are “Disco Teen '66” (Columbia 155); “Discotheque Dance Album” (Command 892); “Dance Discotheque” (Decca 4556); and “Dancing Discotheque” (Mercury 20964).

The big difference between '60s and '70s Disco is these simply offered teen-oriented tunes representative of what one might hear in a Discotheque, or Go-Go club.

Most either contain Top 40 hits by the original artists, or studio orchestra versions of known Pop hits. None contain what is now commonly known as Disco music.

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