Dueling Disco Ducks

Believe it or not, toward the end of the disco phase in the late 1970s there were not one but two different disco songs featuring ducks.

In 1976, radio disc jockey Rick Dees (host of the syndicated radio show Rick Dees’ Weekly Top 40) wrote and recorded “Disco Duck”. Believe it or not, this novelty disco song actually spent one week in the #1 position on the Billboard Top 100, and a total of ten weeks in the Top 10.

The radio station Dees worked at when the song was released forbid him to play it on the air, citing a conflict of interest. One day when he mentioned the song on his radio program, they fired him.

For being a novelty song, Disco Duck was actually fairly popular. The song was featured in Saturday Night Fever, and Rick Dees and his backing band (the “Cast of Idiots”) actually made the late night talk show rounds to perform the song.

Three years later in 1979, Disney released “Mickey Mouse Disco,” a full-length LP featuring a total of nine songs. The album contained a few old songs (like “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Da”) that had been “disco-ized”, and several new songs — one of which was “Macho Duck,” a parody of the Village People’s own disco hit, “Macho Man”.

My local skating rink used to play this song every time we went. “Shooting the Duck” was a rollerskating maneuver that involved squatting down and rolling on one skate while sticking your other leg out straight. Whenever the DJ would start spinning “Macho Duck”, that was your cue to start shooting the duck!

Even though the 1980s brought about the death of disco, by some miracle, it did not bring about the end of duck-related songs. In 1985, Weird Al Yankovic released “I Want a New Duck,” a parody of Huey Lewis and the News’ “I Want a New Drug”.

The League of Extraordinary Ducks

The League of Extraordinary Ducks

In the 1950’s, radio was king. And between 1952 and 1954 there was nothing more popular in the world of radio than the genre of anthropomorphic animal action adventure. A great example of this type of show was The League of Extraordinary Ducks! Sponsored by Red & Green brand Duct Tape this half hour show kept families all over America gathered around their radio, totally captivated. The concept was pretty groundbreaking for it’s time; During Duckburg’s greatest peril, a secret governmental agency traveled the world recruiting the most powerful ducks in existence.

The team was led by the famed adventurer Duck Dodgers and included the half alive indestructible cyborg Gizmo Duck, the flying expert and mechanical wizard Ace Duck, the mysterious mistress of magic and illusion Morgana McCawber, the homicidal con artist and thief LeQuack and the split personality Mellissa Duck, who at any moment can transform into an unstoppable destructive monster. Finally the most mysterious member of the team, loyal only to himself, the ancient vampire Count Duckula. The cartoon actors got along extremely well and got a real kick out performing and improvising together. The gang even made several public appearances at parades and fairs, in character where they would sign autographs, mingle with their loyal fans and generally have a ball.

The League of Extraordinary Ducks

The League of Extraordinary Ducks

Despite extremely high ratings and a ton of branded merchandise, it was eventually decided that the show was just too violent and edgy for the public. The public strongly disagreed and began the first entertainment petition drive in American history, unfortunately the show stayed off the air. The actors all went on to strong careers in television. “Mellissa” and “Duck Dodgers” signed on with Warner Bros. in their upstart Looney Toons division. They were even able to appear together in several animated shorts. Dodgers became a huge star and Mellissa eventually began to work behind the camera becoming a highly respected director. “Ace Duck” and “LeQuack” went on to play recurring rolls on the hit shows Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Courage The Cowardly Dog respectively. “Count Duckula” was given his own program which became a huge hit in the UK and would later produce the spin-off sitcom Dark Shadows. Gizmo Duck and Morgana were both given strong rolls on the crime drama Darkwing Duck.

Years later the cast was approached about turning The League of Extraordinary Ducks into a series of graphic novels but few toons were willing to leave the booming world of television for print work and they respectfully declined. The graphic novels were later re-imagined using characters from literature. While no further properties were ever created For LOED the fan base is as loyal as ever and the cast has made appearances together at several “League” conventions. There has even been quiet talk of a reunion episode produced for the internet. One can only hope that this comes to fruition. I don’t think I only speak for myself when I say how great it would be to hear the old team back together again doing what they do best, fighting evil!