For the 31st (and nearly final) day of Rocktober, I dust off another one of my classic shirts. Classic in the fact that it's 16 years old, and classic in the fact that it's Oingo Boingo. This shirt was from the 1995 "Farewell Tour", which I'm sure you knew just by looking at the pictures. What you may not know is that this shirt was not official merchandise sold at the show, but actually a "bootleg" shirt being sold across the street from the venue. I think I paid $10.00 for the shirt. The irony is that this shirt, in MY opinion, is far cooler than the official tour shirts. The actual shirts sold at the show had some kind of Inca looking figure, while this shirt sports the classic logo and image from the album, GOOD FOR YOUR SOUL, which, to this day, is my favorite Boingo album.
I was first introduced to Oingo Boingo in the Summer of 1983. My cousin had a girl living in his neighborhood that was from Southern California. Her favorite groups were Oingo Boingo and Depeche Mode, both of which were new to me. It was within a couple months that I officially heard Depeche Mode for the first time (Everything Counts), but it was about that time that I was officially exposed to the Oingo Boingo album, GOOD FOR YOUR SOUL. The album was kitschy, it was cutting edge, it was fierce.
I first saw Oingo Boingo on the DEAD MAN'S PARTY Tour of 1985. They played at the Utah State Fairground Coliseum, with Wall of Voodoo (sans Stan Ridgway, who had departed on a solo career). The next Boingo experience for me was in 1988 (at Park West) following the release of BOINGO ALIVE, which was actually MCA Records (their second label) having the band revisit their early A&M Records catalog, live in the studio. Really, it's nothing more than a label trying to capitalize on songs that they don't really own the rights to. Either way, the show kicked butt. My third and final Boingo experience was in 1995, on the "Farewell Tour". The reality was that this show was one of only six concerts on that tour.
Oingo Boingo was known for their Halloween concerts in Southern California (where they are from), which had become an annual tradition. Their final concert was played on Halloween (I'm pretty sure it was actually on the 31st, but may have been a day or two before) in the Universal Amphitheater. When interviewed about the tour, leader Danny Elfman (best known for his film scoring, specifically with Tim Burton films) mentioned that their real fan base was limited to a few areas, specifically California and some West Coast towns. In an interview for X96 in Salt Lake, Danny pointed out that, apart from their hometown LA crowd, Salt Lake City was their strongest fan base. And that is no surprise... for Oingo Boingo has always been a favorite for people from my generation.
I chose to keep this shirt for Halloween, because Oingo Boingo is synonymous with Halloween. Not only was their music's subject matter fairly macabre (Grey Matter, Insects, Little Girls, Nasty Habits, etc.), but Danny Elman, himself, was responsible for music synonymous with Halloween.... the score to the Tim Burton film, THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS. Not only did Danny score the film and write it's original music, but he did the singing vocals of Jack Skelington.
So, with this detailed background of MY history with Oingo Boingo, sit back and take a trip through THEIR history... from the Gong Show appearance of THE MYSTIC KNIGHTS OF THE OINGO BOINGO, right down to their final performance. And speaking of final performances, I must give the band props for one thing above all: when they said they were going to call it quits, they meant it. I have always been sickened by bands and artists that continually announce their "final tour", when it's merely a gimmick to get people out to their shows, followed by a 2-3 year hiatus, when they dust themselves off and hit the road on a "reunion tour". When Oingo Boingo walked off the stage at the Universal Amphitheater, they never looked back. So, to Danny, Steve and the rest of the boys.... thank you for some of the greatest, most energetic of the 1980's and 1990's... and thanks for the memories.
THE MYSTIC KNIGHTS OF THE OINGO BOINGO live on The Gong Show, circa 1976
GRAY MATTER from the Farewell Tour