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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Hey Mickey..Toni Basil and the story behind the song

Antonia Christina Basilotta (born September 22, 1943 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), better known by her stage name Toni Basil, is an American singer-songwriter, actress, filmmaker, film director, choreographer, and dancer, best known for her multi-million-selling worldwide #1 hit "Mickey" from 1982. 

Her mother, Jacqueline Jessica Anderson, was a vaudevillian acrobatic comedian in her family's act "Billy Wells and The Four Fays." Her father, Louis Basil, was an orchestra leader who conducted orchestras at The Chicago Theatre and at The Sahara Hotel in Las Vegas, among others.

 As mentioned earlier, long before she was famous for "Mickey", she was an in demand choreographer and dancer, and sometimes actress.

Basil had been dancing professionally since childhood, but her adult career started when she served as an assistant choreographer to David Winters and dancer on Shindig!, an American music variety show which was broadcast on the ABC network from September 16, 1964, to January 8, 1966.

 She was also assistant choreographer and was featured as a go-go dancer on the 1964 concert film The T.A.M.I. Show (Teen-Age Music International) also choreographed by David Winters, which also featured fellow dancer and friend, Teri Garr.

 Basil choreographed, and co-directed with David Byrne, the music video for "Once in a Lifetime" by Talking Heads. 

She worked with Talking Heads again to direct and choreograph the video for the song "Crosseyed and Painless."

 She also choreographed David Bowie's Diamond Dogs Tour in 1974, and Glass Spider Tour in 1987.

 She has worked with Bette Midler for many years, most recently on her 2008/2009 Las Vegas show The Showgirl Must Go On.

 Her expertise as a choreographer led her to be invited to sit as a guest judge on season four and five of Fox Television's So You Think You Can Dance.

 In addition, she is credited with bringing street dance to prominence as a founding member and manager of The Lockers.

 Her film choreography work includes Pajama Party (1964) where she was the assistant to David Winters.

 And American Graffiti (1973)

As an actress, Basil started off in the films Easy Rider

  and Five Easy Pieces.

"they were experimental films and we were all  willing to take a shot at it"

-Toni Basil on her roles in Easy Rider and Five Easy Pieces

Basil's recording career began in 1966 with a single for A&M Records which was the title song from the short film Breakaway.

She appeared as a guest during the first season of Saturday Night Live as one of The Lockers But otherwise she did not do any recording until she came up with the concept for "Mickey".

"Mickey" is a 1982 U.S. new wave song recorded by Basil. Written by Mike Chapman and Nicky Chinn as "Kitty", it was first recorded by UK popular music group Racey during 1979 appearing on their debut album Smash and Grab.

 Nicky Chinn is a British songwriter and record producer. Together with Mike Chapman he had a long string of hit singles in the UK and US in the 1970s and early 1980s, including several number-one records. The duo wrote hits for such notable UK-based artists as Suzi Quatro, Mud, Sweet, Arrows , Racey, Smokie, Tina Turner and Huey Lewis and the News.

With Chapman, two of his biggest hits before Mickey were 

"Ballroom Blitz"

and "Stumblin In".

 Their first number one hit in the States was this classic song.

Simon Lait,  who had a small record label,  contacted Chinn and was looking for songs. Among the songs that Chinn pitched to Lait was the song "Kitty" by Racey.

Basil,  who had been noticed by Lait,  said she would record the song if she could change the song to include the cheerleader chant and change it to Mickey.
The music video for "Mickey" was one of the most popular early MTV videos. In the video, Basil wore her head cheerleader uniform from Las Vegas High School from which she graduated.
The record company asked her not to put the cheerleader chant on the song because they said it would ruin the tune.

Toni Basil changed the name from Kitty to Mickey to make the song about a man, and because she was fond of The Monkees' lead singer Micky Dolenz after meeting him on the set of their movie Head as a choreographer. 

In addition, Basil changed the title to Mickey because it rhymed well with other words from the rest of the song.

 In the link below, she explains all the details of the song.

 A music video for the song, featuring costuming and choreography inspired by cheerleader dance routines, was played heavily on MTV.
 "Mickey" was actually recorded in 1980 and the video was conceived, directed, and choreographed by Basil herself for the UK-based label Radial Choice nearly a year before the inception of MTV in 1981.

The single scored number one on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week and number two in the UK singles chart. The song was Basil's only Top 40 success, making her a "one-hit wonder". It is named #5 on VH1's 100 Greatest One Hit Wonders of all time, #16 on 20 to 1's Top 20 One Hit Wonders Countdown and #7 on VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of the '80s. It has also appeared on countless Greatest or Best lists and countdowns.

 Although "Mickey" was a global hit, Basil didn't write, produce and didn't own any rights. So she didn't get rich off of it. She claims to have made less than 3000 dollars in royalties over the years.

Toni Basil (1983), her second album, yielded a third and final Hot 100 charting single, "Over My Head," which also reached #4 on the U.S. Dance chart.

Her song "Girls Night Out" appeared on the soundtrack to the 1986 movie Modern Girls.

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