How Colorado Helped Steve Martin Sell 1 Million Copies of ‘King Tut’
Steve Martin is one of those rare American treasures. The man is funny, wickedly smart, a talented actor and musician. These days, you'll find him on "Only Murders in the Building," on Hulu but Steve's biggest radio hit in 1978 does involve Colorado.
Sure, it was a "novelty" song, but it's timeliness struck the right chord with America, when "King Tut" hit the airwaves. Only Steve Martin could have come up with the lyrics to such a unique and fun song. It's great when you find out how Colorado played a part in it being a hit.
A second cousin of mine recently had her 16th birthday, and her Mom told me to get her some records for he new turntable, "She's really into vinyl, these days," So, I found three great albums for her:
- Carole King - 'Tapestry'
- The Temptations Greatest Hits
- Steve Martin - 'A Wild & Crazy Guy'
Let's take a look at how the Centennial State helped that white haired legend sell 1 million copies of that great song.
COLORADO'S CONNECTION TO 'KING TUT' #1: RED ROCKS
The entire side 2 of that album was recorded at Colorado's legendary Red Rocks Amphitheatre. Martin was really on fire in the mid-late '70's, and this album and that song, helped to solidify that.
In 1978, a couple of friends and myself did a lip-synch skit for the 6th grade talent show at Lincoln Elementary in Loveland, based on the song. Ken was King Tut/Steve Martin, and Mark and myself danced like Egyptians on either side of him. It was classic.
COLORADO'S CONNECTION TO 'KING TUT' #2: ASPEN
The single that was released to radio, was recorded in a recording studio in Aspen, Colorado. Steve did a lot of gigs in the Denver area in those days, and Aspen became a second home to the man who'd grown up in southern California. The studio was owned by William (Bill) McEuen. Bill leads us to our next Colorado connection.
COLORADO'S CONNECTION TO 'KING TUT' #3: THE MUSICIANS
William McEuen's younger brother, John, was an old high school friend of Steve Martin's and helped Steve learn how to really 'jam' on the banjo. John McEuen was a member of the band that played as the 'Toot Uncommons' on "King Tut." That band, was the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.
The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band had moved to the Denver area from California in 1972; they took Colorado as their homebase, and Colorado gladly welcomed them. So, when time came to put the song together, what better band of musicians to use than the one his old friend was in? In 2015, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band was inducted into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame.
"King Tut' made it to #17 on the Billboard Hot 100, in 1978, and sold over 1 million copies. It was recorded (two times) in Colorado, with Colorado legends as the backup band. In the SNL sketch that helped to make the song a hit, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band was the musical guest that night, too, and are in the video.
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