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Oingo Boingo

Although Oingo Boingo was often compared to Devo throughout their career (due to both bands' affinity for quirky new wave, goofy stage acts, and most obviously, peculiar yet intriguing band names), Oingo Boingo never obtained the mainstream success that Devo did. But the band did manage to obtain a large and devoted fan base, especially in their hometown of Los Angeles, CA. Oingo Boingo started not as a traditional group per se, as they were originally put together in the '70s by movie director Richard Elfman, who needed music for a whacked-out, John Waters-esque flick he was working on, called Forbidden Zone. Enlisting his younger brother Danny Elfman (vocals, guitar), Steve Bartek (guitar), and Johnny "Vatos" Hernandez (drums), the group originally went by the name Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo before shortening it to Oingo Boingo. Tired of sitting around and waiting for the movie's completion, the group began playing out in the L.A. area, where they built a substantial following with the punk/new wave set (as their lineup would often multiply for performances). But Oingo Boingo had a step or two ahead of the local bands, both musically and visually, as Danny Elfman had spent several years in France working with a theater group and studying orchestra, which reflected in Oingo Boingo's hodgepodge of styles.

The soundtrack to Forbidden Zone was finally issued in 1980, which proved to be a wild, musical roller coaster ride and gave Oingo Boingo their first appearance on record. But by the time a four-track release, 10 Inch EP, was issued the same year (on IRS Records), the group had focused their sound and approach drastically. A recording contract with A&M Records followed shortly thereafter, resulting in some of the early '80s finest new wave releases, 1981's Only a Lad (whose title track received plenty of airplay on the influential L.A. rock radio station KROQ), 1982's Nothing to Fear, and 1983's Good for Your Soul, the latter of which spawned a popular early MTV video hit for "Nothing Bad Ever Happens." Like their live shows, Oingo Boingo's recordings featured a hefty amount of additional members lending a hand, but despite it all, Danny Elfman remained the group's leader and focal point (Elfman even found the time to issue a solo album, So Lo, in 1984). A switch to MCA immediately paid off for the group, as they scored the biggest hit of their career with 1985's Dead Man's Party (eventually earning gold certification in the U.S.), made a cameo appearance in the hit Rodney Dangerfield comedy Back to School, and scored a moderate hit with the theme song to John Hughes' teen comedy Weird Science. But despite their commercial success, Oingo Boingo was unable to sustain it, as such further releases as 1987's Boi-ngo, 1988's Boingo Alive, 1990's Dark at the End of the Tunnel, and 1994's Boingo failed to storm the charts, yet managed to retain the group's cult following.

But during the mid- to late '80s, Elfman struck up a friendship with director Tim Burton and began contributing music to Burton-directed movies on a regular basis, first with the major comedy hit Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, and then later Beetlejuice, Big Top Pee Wee, Batman, Edward Scissorhands, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Mars Attacks!, Sleepy Hollow, and the remake of Planet of the Apes, among others. In return, Elfman became one of Hollywood's most in-demand film composers, providing music for countless films and TV programs (receiving Grammy, Golden Globe, Emmy, and Oscar nominations for his work). With Elfman primarily focusing on film composing by this point, Oingo Boingo was laid to rest in 1995 after a farewell performance at L.A.'s Universal Amphitheatre, which was issued a year later as a CD and video, appropriately titled Farewell. A pair of Oingo Boingo collections surfaced during the '90s, 1992's Best O' Boingo and 1999's double-disc Anthology, as were a pair of anthologies of Elfman's film scores: 1990's Music for a Darkened Theater, Vol. 1: Film & Television Music and 1996's Music for a Darkened Theater, Vol. 2: Film & Television Music. ~ Greg Prato
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

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You guys are killing me, here. Would've loved to see them play. Danny is a wizard.
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decline_tost a t e
I was at this Farewell Concert. It was amazing!
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Ever get to see them live,conside r yourself lucky
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Omg!...aweso m e ! . . y o d e l i n g ! ...Elfman yodeling at Halloween concert!
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dbgrateful3
Saw them at least 20x. 1st time UCI Bren Center & the next 7 or so Irvine Meadows. Best ever show maybe Hollywood Palladium which i went to instead of some stupid winter formal dance. One of the most memorable moments ever was when Bartek broke a guiter string and Vatos did a 10 minute drum solo, then the band went to yodelling - amazing crazy harmony. Awesome memories with this band & Pandora letting me relive it.

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miercoleschi q i
I saw oingo boingo when they played at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. . . . it was totally awesome.!
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That band is awesome
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This band is so damn good I wish I was around then they still were I'm only 14 and I just love their music!
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Popular in Australia
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One of the best shows I saw was 7/3/90 @ Universal. Front row, Party in The Pit.
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Boingo will
4ever kill it
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Oingo Motherf**kin ' Boingo. Oh yeah.
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doughtyap
Saw em 83 in Orlando, FL at a bar that doesn't exist anymore-Tom' s Point After near UCF in east Orlando. They didn't promote the show so there was only about 20 of us there-they played a great show anyway and got to talk and have a few beers with Danny Elfman and the band after the show; great memories!
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brianed.whea t f i l l
They are simple the best. I have seen them many times during the years they played and was never disappointed . I was at the last Halloween concert they did in 95 and was even in their concert movie. I will always cherish my past memories with oingo boingo.
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Wowww....tot a l l y forgot about Oingo Boingo..high school so many memories
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They played at my High School Grad Night! TPHS 84'
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vegasdj6
I grew up with these guys. My friends and I followed them around to all of their early appearances at small and medium-sized venues around L.A. If we weren't hanging out at a Boingo, Untouchables , Sparks, or Go-Go's show on a Saturday night, we wouldn't know what to do with ourselves!

As others have so correctly pointed out, Oingo Boingo and Devo are absolutely NOTHING alike! The author's band comparison is as off-kilter as his grammar.
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My first concert in Las Vegas at the Aladdin circa 89-my sis got us front row- love them
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Pure Awesomeness! ! I wish I could have seen them live back in the day...so creative.
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My all time fave band, but I fell out of love when they did Weird Science and it was played to death. Then they shortened their name, oy.
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I'm sorry but I'd choose Oingo Boingo over Devo any day!
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Good For Your Soul...Shoul d be part of the discography selections.
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I will always love their music. It makes me want to dance.
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Awesome song
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Somebody's algorithm is not working. Depeche Mode and Oingo Boingo are about as similar as I am to Lil' Kim.
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bobonnit, that's your minority opinion, ha ha. Boingo's lyrics are trenchant, clever, and cerebral. Their talent is tremendous.
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A little of this group went a long way. Their novelty wore thin immediately.
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matakc
one of my all time favorite bands, back then and now.
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Wish I would have been old enough *and* in Utah to attend that concert, jrb3bfree! What an experience! Danny Elfman and the Oingo Boingo musicians are amazingly talented.
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Best band ever... my 1st concert '89 Boingo Alive at the Salt Palace in SLC, UT - phenomenal creativity, intelligent lyrics, and upbeat tempos! Fun x3!!! Love most bands that choose to mix up their sound by varying the instruments they use!!! Name another Modern Rock band that can effectively start a concert with Xylophone and keep the crowd amazingly joyful?!?!!! ? ! ! ! ! ! ! ! We've not heard the last of Danny Elfman's musical genius -- hopefully not of Steve Bartek and Johnny Vatos Hernandez, too!
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Best band ever - 1st concert Boingo Alive 1989 in SLC, UT - phenomenal live, streamed, or via CD - yes I'm that old!!! Long with the musical genius of Danny Elfman continue into many a theater into the future!!!!!! Who do you want to be today!? Who do you want to be????????
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I've loved Boingo for decades - but it looks like everyone else has, too! Well, so that means I'm not THAT unique (I suppose). They WERE a great band!
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Favorite band!
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barnowls29
Saw them several times at the Hollywood Palladium! Loved them then, still love them now!
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you think this band is good, you should check out my band called Girls have Buttholes
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Aaaahhh....j u s t recalling many a Halloween eve at Shoreline Amphitheater . We always got them on the 30th here in NorCal. They were a true " band". Everyone played together. Elfman always let everyone shine. No typical lead singer showboating. Fun happy songs with a dark undercurrent .
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statich1
Always time for a Dead Man's Party
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statich1
Always enough time for a Dead Man's Pary
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I
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Saw them several times in 1980-81 at the Whisky-a-Go- G o . . . . . f u n memories!
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gusdlgarza
I love the movie and Kelly le brock man she was so pretty
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makeyourowng r a n o l a
By far the best concerts I have ever gone to...every Halloween at Pacific Amph. or at Irvine Meadows. They were my first concert in 1984 when I was 14 and I still remember it! Great music then and now! Wish I had kept my old concert t-shirts...
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mjblack65
devo wishes they were like O.B.
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pcone31
Great Band. Unfortunatel y Steve Bartek's contribution s were often overlooked.
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That's a good Danny Elfman bio. They should do one for Oingo Boingo too.
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I saw Oingo Boingo 3 times in Salt Lake City. One show I was at, the power went out. Danny Elfman promised the audience that for all of those who stayed would get an amazing show. the power was out for about 35 minutes and they played for hours after the power came back on. What a night!!!
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I don't think they even mentioned the Simpsons theme song!
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scje010012
I love everything Danny Elfman! I only discovered a couple of years ago that he was the lead singer in Oingo Boingo, but since then I've become a fan of their work. Their music has that unique style of Danny's that I really love.
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i was SO obsessed with them a few years back that i had to stop and take a break. Then today...uh oh....ITS BACK AND BETTER THAN EVER!!!!
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