THE TRAMMPS’ CLASSIC “DISCO INFERNO” — about a red-hot dance party atop a “100-story high” building — was inspired, appropriately, by the disaster film The Towering Inferno. In the Academy Award-winning drama, while revelers are dancing atop a luxurious skyscraper, a fire breaks out in the building.
The Trammps’ drummer Earl Young later recalled to Dutch network NTR that he was hesitant about the song’s subject: “I said, ‘You think that’ll sell? That’s about burnin’ somebody up!’ ”
Clearly, people didn’t mind, as the song reached the top of the Feb. 5, 1977-dated Dance Club Songs chart (then-named National Disco Action Top 40) and reigned for six weeks. It also logged a brief run on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at No. 53 that April. But the song’s greatest success stemmed from its feature in the box office blockbuster Saturday Night Fever. The film’s soundtrack ruled the Billboard 200 for 24 weeks in 1978 and revived “Inferno” on the Hot 100, as it went on to peak at No. 11.
Disco fever soon died down, with “Disco Inferno” The Trammps’ final Hot 100 hit. Still, the song lives on, through covers (Tina Turner, Cyndi Lauper) and dozens of film/TV synchs. As for The Trammps, the group continues to tour in two incarnations, with various original members leading each ensemble.