May the 4th Be With You: Remembering the Bizarre 'Star Wars' No. 1 Disco Hit

Star Wars and Other Galactic Funk
Courtesy Photo

"Star Wars and Other Galactic Funk" album art.

Whether you like it or not, the Internet is full of those wishing "May the 4th be with you" today, May 4.

So in honor of the greatest film trilogy of all time (which spawned two other trilogies of varying degrees of quality), we're looking back on the disco-fied version of the Star Wars theme song that ruled the Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks in 1977.

Created by Pennsylvania-born producer Meco (real name Domenico Monardo) -- and hailing from an album titled (no joke) Star Wars and Other Galactic Funk -- this Chic take on John Williams' iconic theme is one of the biggest instrumental hits of all time. It's also one of the most frequently ignored parts of Star Wars lore (the pornographic Jetsons cover art is partly to blame for that).

But make no mistake: Meco's disco version of the Star Wars theme is pure pleasure from start to finish. Is it cheesy? Yes. Was it a crass commercial cash-in? Of course. But when has either stopped us from loving Star Wars before?

Back in 1977, a disco version of Star Wars probably didn’t seem that ill-advised. Disco was the most innovative new music genre making real headway on the charts; Star Wars was the most wildly successful movie from a crop of up-and-coming Hollywood directors.

It only made sense that Star Wars and disco, finding themselves awash with instant success and excess money, would copulate behind closed doors to produce this beautiful love child. And for two weeks, America got caught up in the heat of the moment and made "Star Wars Theme/Cantina Band" the No. 1 single in the country.

But as with so many hastily conceived children, one of its progenitors would soon regret and disown it (just mention this song to George Lucas and watch his ever-present scowl deepen).

And like so many drunk on a Saturday Night Fever, America eventually woke up with a raging hangover and threw itself into a heartfelt Sunday morning penance. Debby Boone's "You Light Up My Life" -- a pop hit that could easily double for religious music -- ousted the Star Wars theme from the No. 1 spot and ruled the Hot 100 for an astounding 10 weeks thereafter.

In hindsight, Debby Boone crushing an intergalactic love child makes perfect sense. America's post-party Puritanical purges have always lasted longer than its hedonistic binges. But on a day where we welcome Star Wars into our hearts, let's allow Meco's disco version of the theme another dalliance with our feet and our hips -- if only for a brief moment.

THE BILLBOARD BIZ
SUBSCRIBER EXPERIENCE

The Biz premium subscriber content has moved to Billboard.com/business.


To simplify subscriber access, we have temporarily disabled the password requirement.