867-5309/Jenny

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"867-5309/Jenny"
Tommy Tutone - 867-5309 Jenny (single cover).jpg
Single by Tommy Tutone
from the album Tommy Tutone 2
B-side "Not Say Goodbye"
Released November 16, 1981 (1981-11-16)
Format 7"
Recorded 1981
Genre Power pop[1]
Length 3:45
Label Columbia
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)
Tommy Tutone singles chronology
"Angel Say No"
(1980)
"867-5309/Jenny"
(1981)
"Get Around Girl"
(1983)
"Angel Say No"
(1980)
"867-5309/Jenny"
(1981)
"Get Around Girl"
(1983)

"867-5309/Jenny" is a 1981 song written by Alex Call and Jim Keller and performed by Tommy Tutone that was released on the album Tommy Tutone 2, on the Columbia Records label. It peaked at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and #16 on the Billboard Top Tracks chart in May 1982 (see 1982 in music).[2]

The song caused a fad of people dialing 867-5309 and asking for "Jenny".[3][4]

Creation[edit]

Lead guitarist Jim Keller, interviewed by People in 1982, said "Jenny is a regular girl, not a hooker. Friends of mine wrote her name and number on a men's room wall at a bar. I called her on a dare, and we dated for a while. I haven't talked with her since the song became a hit, but I hear she thinks I'm a real jerk for writing it."[5]

On March 28, 2008, Tommy Tutone lead singer Tommy Heath stated on the WGN Morning News that the number was real and it was the number of a girl he knew. As a joke, he wrote it on a bathroom wall in a motel where they were staying. "We laughed about it for years," he said.[6]

However, in a June 2004 interview with Songfacts, co-writer Alex Call explained his version of the song's real origins:

Despite all the mythology to the contrary, I actually just came up with the 'Jenny,' and the telephone number and the music and all that just sitting in my backyard. There was no Jenny. I don't know where the number came from, I was just trying to write a 4-chord Rock song and it just kind of came out, this was back in 1981 when I wrote it, and I had at the time a little squirrel-powered 4-track in this industrial yard in California, and I went up there and made a tape of it. I had the guitar lick, I had the name and number, but I didn't know what the song was about, this buddy of mine, Jim Keller, who's the co-writer, was the lead guitar player in Tommy Tutone. He stopped by that afternoon and he said, 'Al, it's a girl's number on a bathroom wall,' and we had a good laugh. I said, 'That's exactly right, that's exactly what it is.'

Tommy Tutone's been using the story for years that there was a Jenny and she ran a recording studio and so forth, it makes a better story but it's not true. That sounds a lot better than I made it up under a plum tree in my backyard.

I had the thing recorded. I had the name and number, and they were in the same spots, 'Jenny... 867-5309.' I had all that going, but I had a blind spot in the creative process, I didn't realize it would be a girl's number on a bathroom wall. When Jim showed up, we wrote the verses in 15 or 20 minutes, they were just obvious, it was just a fun thing, we never thought it would get cut. In fact, even after Tommy Tutone made the record and '867-5309' got on the air, it really didn't have a lot of promotion to begin with, but it was one of those songs that got a lot of requests and stayed on the charts, it was on the charts for 40 weeks.

I've met a few Jennys who've said, "Oh, you're the guy who ruined my high school years." But for the most part, Jennys are happy to have the song.[7]

"There was no Jenny," Call also told a Tampa, Florida, columnist in June 2009. "The number? It came to me out of the ether."[8]

In the music video, the "Jenny" character is played by Karen Elaine Morton.[9]

Popularity and litigation[edit]

The song, released in late 1981, initially gained popularity on the American West Coast in January 1982; many who had the number soon abandoned it because of unwanted calls.

When we'd first get calls at 2 or 3 in the morning, my husband would answer the phone, he can't hear too well. They'd ask for Jenny, and he'd say "Jimmy doesn't live here any more." ... Tommy Tutone was the one who had the record. I'd like to get hold of his neck and choke him.

— Mrs. Lorene Burns, an Alabama householder formerly at +1-205-867-5309; she changed her number in 1982.[10]

Asking telephone companies to trace the calls was of no use, as Charles and Maurine Shambarger (then in West Akron, Ohio at +1-216-867-5309) learned when Ohio Bell explained "We don’t know what to make of this, the calls are coming from all over the place." A little over a month later, they disconnected the number and the phone became silent.[11]

Use by businesses[edit]

In some cases, the number was picked up by commercial businesses or acquired for use in radio promotions.

  • In 1982, WLS radio obtained the number from a Chicago woman, receiving 22,000 calls in four days.[5]
  • In 1982, Southwest Junior High School received up to two hundred calls daily asking for Jenny in area code 704.[5]
  • Brown University obtained the +1-401-867 prefix in 1999, assigning 867-5309 to a student dormitory room which was promptly inundated with nuisance calls.[12] In 2002, the university transferred the number to Gem Plumbing & Heating, a local business in Lincoln, Rhode Island. Gem began using the number in advertising campaigns both in Rhode Island and in eastern Massachusetts (area code 617), trademarking the number in 2005. The number is now their corporate phone number.[13]
  • A February 2004 auction for the number in a New York City code was shut down by eBay after objections from Verizon; bidding had reached $80,000.[14] The US Federal Communications Commission takes the position that most phone numbers are "public resources" that "are not owned by carriers or their customers" but did not rule out the number being sold as part of a business.[15]
  • A subsequent February 2004 auction for the number in area code 800 and 888 listed Jeffrey Steinberg's Philadelphia business JSS Marketing for sale, including both numbers as part of the bundle. This circumvents eBay restrictions which prevent selling the numbers on their own.[16]
  • In 2004, Weehawken, New Jersey resident Spencer Potter picked up the number for free after discovering to his surprise that it was available in the 201 area code, hoping it would improve his DJ business.[17][18] Unable to handle the overwhelming volume of calls, he sought to sell the number on eBay in February 2009,[19][20] although bids reached $1 million, his inability to confirm the identity of the bidders led him to sell it privately to Retro Fitness, a gym franchise with a location in Secaucus, New Jersey that felt the 1980s origin of the number tied in perfectly with their business' retro theme.[4]
  • In 2006, Benjamin Franklin Franchising, a large national plumbing franchise, began using a toll-free version of the number (+1-866-867-5309), which it advertises as "867-5309/Benny".[21] In 2007, Gem Plumbing & Heating brought suit against Clockwork Home Services, the parent company of Benjamin Franklin Franchising, alleging a violation of its trademark.[22] Clockwork contended that Gem's trademark was invalid. Effective in May 2007, Clockwork was ordered by a court to stop using the number in New England,[23] as of 2011 +1-866-867-5309 remains in the hands of Benjamin Franklin Franchising as a valid method of reaching BFF customer support.[24] According to Tommy Heath, lead singer of Tommy Tutone, "It's ridiculous. If I wanted to get into it, I could probably take the number away from both of them."[25]
  • In 2009, nutrition firm Natrient LLC leased +1-800-867-5309 from 5309 Partners Ltd for $25 million as part of a radio ad campaign.[26]
  • In July 2009, Jason Kaplan had the number assigned to a Vonage phone line in the name of a small business in area code 267[27] and then listed the entire business for sale on eBay.[28] The auction closed at $5,500.[29][30]
  • When area code 855 was opened in 2010, +1-855-867-5309 was taken in the first 47 seconds on the first day, while Pennsylvania 6-5000 was assigned on the twenty-first day.[31] A captive RespOrg "Voice Box International", controlled by the same people who operate "5309 Partners" and "Five309 LLC", also reserved +1-844-867-5309 in the first few seconds after that area code's opening on December 7, 2013;[32] in January 2013, Five309 LLC announced plans to use 855-867-5309 and 888-867-5309 to promote website JennySearch.com[33] but as of 2013 that site is not being actively updated.
  • Associate Justice Elena Kagan's opinion in the unanimous 2013 Supreme Court case American Trucking Associations v. Los Angeles uses the number as a hypothetical "How am I driving?" phone number on trucks inviting calls with safety or environmental complaints.[34]
  • In 2013, the number was still ringing up fifty misdialled calls daily for Florida realtor Carrie Routt[35] in area code 850.[36]
  • Phoenix, Arizona-based professional services referral company MyGuy Referrals also use the number, in area code 602.[37]

Springsteen controversy[edit]

Singer-songwriter Bruce Springsteen's popular single "Radio Nowhere" features a set of guitar riffs at the beginning that many fans considered particularly similar to "867-5309/Jenny", although the lyrics and the tone of the two songs are quite different. Heath said in response, "Maybe I will", referring to taking legal action on the dispute.[38] Heath clarified later on that he had no actual intention whatsoever of taking action and that he felt "really honored at a similarity, if any".[39] Both songs were released on Columbia Records.

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1981–82) Peak
position
Australia (Kent Music Report)[40][41] 22
Canada Top Singles RPM 2[42]
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[43] 32
US Billboard Hot 100[44] 4
US Mainstream Rock (Billboard)[45] 16

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Deming, Mark. "'Tommy Tutone 2' Review". AllMusic. 
  2. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits (8th ed.). Billboard Publications. p. 638. 
  3. ^ "867-5309/Jenny". Urban Legends Reference Pages. snopes.com. July 9, 2014. Retrieved August 20, 2014. 
  4. ^ a b LaMarca, Stephen (July 24, 2011). "Jenny 867-5309 Won't Lead to Jenny". The Hudson Reporter. p. 3. 
  5. ^ a b c Bricker, Rebecca (May 31, 1982). "Tommy Tutone's Got Your Number—if It's 867-5309—as America Dials Up a Musical Party Line". People. Retrieved December 27, 2012. 
  6. ^ Tutone, Tommy (March 28, 2008). "Tommy Tutone '867-5309/Jenny' Live". WGN Morning News. Chicago: WGN-TV. Retrieved September 1, 2011 – via YouTube. 
  7. ^ "Alex Call (867-5309): Songwriter Interviews". Songfacts. Retrieved January 28, 2018. 
  8. ^ La Porte, John (July 3, 2009). "BOB Stock Back". Fort Morgan Times. Retrieved September 1, 2011 – via NewsBank. 
  9. ^ "Karen Morton : Biography". IMDb. Retrieved October 17, 2016. 
  10. ^ "867-5309 Is not Jenny". Lakeland Ledger. May 16, 1982. p. 2A. 
  11. ^ Price, Mark J. (April 29, 2012). "Local History: There Is No Jenny at 867-5309". Akron Beacon-Journal. Retrieved December 24, 2012. 
  12. ^ Brener, Julie (September 10, 1999). "New Phone Exchange Leads to Confusion, Prank Calls". The Brown Daily Herald. Brown University. 
  13. ^ "contact". Gem Plumbing and Heating Services. Retrieved September 28, 2017. 
  14. ^ "1-800-Catchy-Number: Makes-a-Lot-of-Money". The Baltimore Sun. March 9, 2004. Retrieved May 17, 2013. 
  15. ^ "Hey, Jenny, Your Number Was on Wall, And on eBay". The New York Times. February 19, 2004. 
  16. ^ "Jenny Is Now Toll-Free: Seller Puts 800-867-5309 on eBay". Ecommercebytes. February 20, 2004. Retrieved May 28, 2013. 
  17. ^ [1]
  18. ^ "Man selling 867-5309 number on eBay". United Press International. 
  19. ^ "'867-5309' number for sale on eBay". CNN. 
  20. ^ Sean Michaels. "Phone number behind Tommy Tutone hit 867-5309 (Jenny) listed on eBay". The Guardian. 
  21. ^ McDonald, Mac (October 22, 2013). "Tommy Tutone Headlines the First Rock and Chocolate Fest". Go Magazine. The Herald. Monterey, CA. 
  22. ^ "Rival plumbers fight over 'Jenny's' digits". TODAY.com. 
  23. ^ "Plumbers Fight for 'Jenny' Number". USA Today. Associated Press. May 20, 2007. Retrieved October 26, 2013. 
  24. ^ "Contact Benjamin Franklin Plumbing". Benjamin Franklin Plumbing. Archived from the original on December 1, 2009. Retrieved September 1, 2011. 
  25. ^ "2 Plumbing Companies Battle for Rights to 867-5309 Telephone Number". Fox News Channel. Associated Press. May 19, 2007. Retrieved October 26, 2013. 
  26. ^ Negus, Beth (March 17, 2009). "Nutrition Firm Leases 800-867-5309: Jenny Probably Not Included". Chief Marketer. Retrieved December 27, 2012. 
  27. ^ "Ringing up 867-5309". Philadelphia Daily News. 
  28. ^ "867-5309 For Sale". Tampa FL: WTSP-TV. Retrieved January 28, 2011. 
  29. ^ "'867-5309' Number for Sale on eBay". CNN. February 2, 2009. 
  30. ^ Duke, Alan (February 3, 2009). "'867-5309' Bids up to $365,000". CNN. 
  31. ^ Search for 8**-867-5309 and 8**-736-5000 on search.tollfreenumbers.com/Lookups.asp
  32. ^ SMS/800 database (lookup on www.800forall.com) and Florida public corporation registry data (lookup on www.corporationwiki.com). Both the 844 and 855 numbers are controlled by the same entities.
  33. ^ McKay, John (January 29, 2013). "Tommy Tutone's One-Hit Wonder '867-5309′ Now Really Is for a Good Time!". Pasco, WA: KFLD-AM. 
  34. ^ Seifter, Miriam (June 14, 2013). "Opinion Analysis: In Deciding American Trucking, the Court takes a Narrow Road". SCOTUSblog. Retrieved June 14, 2013. 
  35. ^ "Carrie Routt, Panama City realtor at 850-867-5309". Kw.com. Retrieved October 17, 2016. 
  36. ^ "Woman OK with crank calls to her rockin' phone number 867-5309". Sun Sentinel. 
  37. ^ "MyGuy Referrals - Posts". Facebook. January 29, 2016. Retrieved September 22, 2017. 
  38. ^ http://www.greasylake.org/the-circuit/index.php
  39. ^ Horowitz, Carl F. "Sue Me, Sue You: Musical 'Plagiarism' in Court". National Legal and Policy Center. Archived from the original on May 24, 2008. Retrieved November 23, 2008. 
  40. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. Australian Chart Book, St Ives, N.S.W. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. 
  41. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on October 6, 2014. Retrieved June 16, 2014. 
  42. ^ "Top Singles". RPM magazine. May 29, 1982. Retrieved December 10, 2017. 
  43. ^ "Charts.org.nz – Tommy Tutone – 867-5309/Jenny". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved July 2, 2017.
  44. ^ "Tommy Tutone Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved July 2, 2017.
  45. ^ "Tommy Tutone Chart History (Mainstream Rock)". Billboard. Retrieved July 2, 2017.

External links[edit]