Before He Was A Famous Film Composer, Danny Elfman Was a Contestant On The Gong Show
By Anna Green
Film composer Danny Elfman has had a long, strange career. Nowadays, he’s famous for composing the scores for movies like the upcoming Alice Through the Looking Glass, the recently released Goosebumps, and Academy Award-winning films Good Will Hunting (1997) and Milk (2008)—as well as for his career-long collaboration with director Tim Burton. But before he was a world-famous, incredibly prolific film composer, Elfman was the frontman of a new wave rock band called Oingo Boingo (best known for their song "Weird Science"). And before that, he was a member of a bizarre performance art musical act called The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo, which appeared on The Gong Show in 1976.
Before Oingo Boingo shortened their name and became a rock band in the '80s, they were a proudly weird, truly eclectic group of musicians, employing up to 15 performers at a time and playing covers of everything from Russian ballet music to the jazz hits of Cab Calloway. The group’s appearance on The Gong Show confused and impressed the show’s panel of celebrity judges and won them the strange sum of $516.32. Though it’s difficult to spot Danny Elfman in the chaos (it's hard to tell for sure, but according to several sources, he's the trombone player), the bizarre and infectious performance offers a fascinating glimpse into the origins of one of Hollywood’s most important composers.
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