In 1982 a pop band named Tommy Tutone, produced a recording named 867-5309/Jenny. The single not only took the pop charts by storm, it took the telephone world by storm. The song was about a boy who found the telephone number of a girl named Jenny, and an offer of a “good time,” on a bathroom wall.
This was not the first time a pop song had been written about a telephone number. The Marveletts sang Beechwood 45789 (which was co-written by Marvin Gaye), and in 1966 Wilson Picket sang the song written by Eddie Floyd, and Steve Cropper; 634-5789 (Soulsville, U.S.A). The parenthesis are part of the title and was a reference to Stax records in Memphis. Of course, Steve Cropper would go on to write (Sittin On) The Dock of the Bay with Otis Redding, as well as become a Blues Brother, not to mention an original member of the Stax house band; Booker T and the MG’s.
Because, Jenny was a song about some random girl and her phone number, it somehow triggered the “inherent sophomoric DNA” in a vast amount of the US population, “egged them on” to call the number, and all hell broke loose. People would call and ask for Jenny. In Buffalo, NY, it was the Police Chief’s daughter actual number. In North Carolina, one school was getting 200 calls per day. Rhode Island has its own twisted claim to fame on this song. At the time in the 401 area code, the number belonged to Brown University. It was assigned to a student dorm room. After it was flooded with calls, the number was “given up.” The number was then scooped up by a company called GEM Plumbing and Heating who used the tune and number in their commercials; “GEMY,GEMY who can I turn to.” GEM would go on to Trademark the number, and later attempt to sue another national plumbing contractor for violation of that trademark. To this day, GEM has a phone number in Rhode Island, and one in Massachusetts with the phone number 867-5309.
Telephone numbers gone astray were not just limited to the music world . Bell Systems; the original “Ma Bell” would use the phone number 311-555-2368 as an example of a phone number in their publications. This would catch on to the TV and movie industry. This same number was used by Jim Rockford in The Rockford Files, The Bionic Woman, and the ultimate “Who you gonna call” phone number “Ghost Busters.” In an effort to avoid the 555 prefix, Universal Studios bought, and began using (212) 664-7665 to look more realistic.
I would venture to say that at the time Jenny was written, not every person in the modern world had a cell phone; if not two. I think if that song was popular now, that phone number with be called millions of times.
Great post, good luck with the challenge!
Evalina, This and that…
There’s also “Pennsylvania 6-5000” by the Glenn Miller Orchestra. And I remember a commercial for Sheraton (I think) and its telephone number. 800-325-3535 I can still hear it (and probably will all night now)
Ah Jenny, I wonder where she is now!