April 1978: Steve Martin Releases "King Tut"

Steve Martin as King Tut
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(NBC)

Comedian Steve Martin was one of the biggest rock stars of 1978. His second comedy album, A Wild and Crazy Guy, was a smash, peaking at #2 on the charts for the week of December 9, 1978. The album that blocked Martin from #1: Billy Joel's 52nd Street.

Helping drive the album's sales was the single, "King Tut." On April 22, 1978, Martin debuted the song on Saturday Night Live. Much to Martin's surprise and delight, producers were excited enough by the idea to help him produce an elaborate sketch that was among the most expensive the show had ever produced.

With King Tut top of mind in America due to the Treasures of Tutankhamun traveling exhibit that crossed the country 1976-1979, Steve Martin released "King Tut" as a single on April 28, 1978. Issued under the artist name of Steve Martin and the Toot Uncommons, his backing band was actually members of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. The novelty tune made a very serious chart run, peaking at #17 on the Hot 100 for the week of August 12, 1978. The track was especially big in Chicago, where its release coincided with the exhibit coming to town.

A Wild and Crazy Guy won the Grammy for Best Comedy Album in 1979. It was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the Library of Congress and selected for inclusion in the National Recording Registry in 2015. 

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