Dwight Twilley’s “Girls” video was modeled on Bob Clark’s horny teenager romp “Porky’s”

By on July 13, 2017

This over two-hour full episode of “Night Flight” originally aired on August 18, 1984, but today it is one of the most popular downloads (with commercials intact too!) that we’ve got streaming over on Night Flight Plus.

We thought today we’d highlight one of the videos you’ll see in the “Sex in Music Videos” segment of this full episode, Dwight Twilley’s “Girls,” which had been a Top Twenty hit earlier that year, in the spring of 1984.

If you’re not already subscribing to Night Flight Plus, read more about that here in the middle of this post.

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In 1974, the Dwight Twilley Band — co-led by the creative production team and lifelong friends from Tulsa, Dwight Twilley and Phil Seymour — signed their very first record deal with the Tulsa & L.A.-based Shelter Records, joining a roster that also included a little then-unknown band from Florida called Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers.

The Dwight Twilley Band scored one of their biggest hits the very next year, in 1975, with a Top Twenty hit called “I’m On Fire,” but that particular band produced just two albums for Shelter before breaking up.

Twilley and Seymour were both challenged to over overcome what amounted to a lot of bad luck during their careers, both together and during separate solo careers.

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As a solo artist, and exactly ten years after signing his very first contract, Dwight Twilley’s his longtime friend Tom Petty lent his backing vocals to a song Twilley was recording for his 1984 album Jungle, a track called “Girls.”

“Girls” turned out to be the first single from the album Jungle, and based on the popularity of the video, it reached #16 on Billboard‘s Hot 100 in the spring of ’84, shortly after Twilley and his band had performed the song on Dick Clark’s ABC TV show “American Bandstand” on April 7th.

Jungle, meanwhile, even managed to crack the Top Forty album listings.

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There were two versions of the infamous music video, which had high school locker room theme scenes obviously inspired by the hit 1981 movie Porky’s.

One of the versions was aired on MTV, but a racier R-rated version — featuring full-frontal and, er, backal female and male nudity — aired on cable channels like HBO, and the Playboy Channel.

We’ve got the censored version for you in our “Sex in Music Videos” episode (pretty sure we aired both on “Night Flight”) but should you want to check out the R-rated version — so you can see a conga line of bare-assed jocks heading into the showers, not to mention some of the topless NSFW cheerleaders, who were all Playboy Bunnies, by the way — it’s right here, courtesy of Youtube:

Read more about the Dwight Twilley saga below.

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Tulsa, Oklahoma-born Dwight Twilley and his future bandmate and best friend Phil Seymour — who was born in Oklahoma City — originally met each other after an afternoon matinee screening of A Hard Day’s Night in the summer of 1967. The theater had a promotion they were running that day (something like a “bring a kid and get in free day”).

Twilley had brought his younger brother, and Seymour had brought a younger neighbor, and since they were around the same age (and still in junior high at the time), they ended up chatting, and found that not only were they both big Beatles fans, they both had an interest in being in a rock ‘n’ roll band themselves. Twilley was a year older than Seymour.

After the movie, they headed off to play music together at Twilley’s house on Zunis Street, located southeast of Tulsa’s downtown section and not too far east from the Arkansas River.

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That first jam session — which they recorded on Twilley’s tape recorder in what was likely a very primitive home studio set-up — went pretty well, and so they formed an acoustic duo, calling themselves Oister, a name they later said meant “two halves that make up a whole.”

It was a name they’d continue to use as their production team name, regardless of the band named they used.

Twilley wrote all their songs and played guitar and piano. Seymour, meanwhile, played drums and bass, and they both sang lead vocals and harmonies.

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They recorded literally hundreds of songs together over the new few years, Twilley overdubbing piano, guitars, and vocals, and Seymour adding drums, and vocals. They were mixed on to an AKAI 2-track deck (some of these recordings are available today via Bandcamp).

They also played occasional live gigs with a variety of other Tulsa musicians, some who would come to figure in their careers later on.

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Sometime in 1970, Oister decided to pool what little money they had and headed east (in a ’58 Chevy) to Nashville, Tennessee, which was the closest music capital to their midwest locale, and they didn’t think their beat-up old ’58 Chevy station wagon would get them to either New York or L.A.

They stopped off in Memphis first, though, since it was on the way, and found their way to the hallowed Sun Records, where they met Sam Philips’ son Jerry.

Jerry Philips (some sources claim that they met Philips’ brother Jud, so Jud or Jerry, take yer pick) listened to their tape, and sent them off to see Ray Harris, a former Sun Records artist who was part-owner of Hi Records (Philips had two partners who had produced records for Sun, and they also had three silent partners).

Harris, who had considerable R’n’B/Soul success with Hi Records, was running a recording studio in Tupelo, Mississippi, and he also listened to their demo tape, and made suggestions about how to dirty up their Beatlesque pop sound; it was Harris who was responsible for introducing the rockabilly sound into Twilley’s and Seymour’s songwriting, in fact.

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Twilley’s and Seymour’s recordings eventually became so popular that they pressed up several releases, which they transferred to cassette tapes and sold to their high school friends. Some of these were elaborate pop concept albums.

They made their first “professional” recordings at BJ Recording, a studio in Van Buren, Arkansas, just across the state line in the foothills of the Ozarks, near Branson.

They also began making regular trips back to the Memphis area, to record with Harris (they recorded some of these tracks at a tiny studio near the Natchez Trace Inn, one of the many recording studios that had sprouted up after Sun’s success), and soon their pop sound was threaded through with the sounds of Sun rockabilly and acoustic country.

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Occasionally they recruited a local part-time guitarist, Bill Pitcock IV, for recording sessions (contributing lead and rhythm guitars when Twilley wasn’t doing them himself) and live gigs. Twilley also played with Pitcock in a high school cover band, called 1950 during this time.

It was Pitcock’s father (Bill Pitcock II), who helped Twilley, Seymour and his son set up a recording studio of their own above his own shop, Pitcock Electric (they dubbed their studio “the Shop”), and by now all of the money they were earning at gigs was going towards the purchase of new recording equipment, including a TEAC 3340 4-track deck.

By now, Twilley and Seymour were out of high school and Twilley started going to college at went to Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College (now commonly called NEO), located in the small former mining town of Miami, Oklahoma.

He made a deal with his dad: if he got straight A’s, his father promised to support Dwight’s decision to play music for a living.

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Twilley attended NEO between 1971-1973, and he was also playing with a band called El Roacho with his pal Phil Seymour, who ended up scoring a record deal of their own, but on the eve of the first recording sessions, Seymour decided to quit the band.

He had decided to re-form Oister with Twilley, with Bill Pitcock IV assisting the duo on making their own recordings the best they could be, all of them dreaming of the day when they would be able to sign a record deal and play their own songs that they’d written together.

By this point Twilley & Seymour had written and recorded over a hundred excellent songs, before they’d ever met with anyone from a record company, and the best of those polished demos were mixed down on a borrowed TEAC 2-track deck.

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In November of ’74, Twilley, Seymour and Pitcock IV made the long drive out to Los Angeles, where they got themselves a crappy little apartment while plotting their next move, to get a record deal, but, as luck would have it, ultimately the deal they ended up making was with Shelter Records, a label that had formed just four years earlier, owned by British musician Denny Cordell and fellow Tulsan, the great Leon Russell.

Shelter had offices in Los Angeles (in the Hollywood area) and in Tulsa, where they had a 16-track/8-track recording studio housed in an historic renovated old church on Third Street, called the Church Studio, which had 40-foot ceilings, making for great acoustics.

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Cordell and Russell also owned the block the studio was located in Tulsa, where there were fourteen houses for engineers, visiting artists, producers and others who were spending time in Tulsa.

Russell also had another studio facility of his own, a 40-track studio sitting on a lake some sixty miles from Tulsa, where he’d recorded his Carney album.

Many of the artists signed to the label were making regular trips back and forth between L.A. and Tulsa, which wasn’t going to be much of a problem for Twilley, Seymour and Pitcock IV, since that was their hometown.

Cordell — who began producing artists back in England nearly a decade earlier, including Procol Harum, Joe Cocker, the Move, the Moody Blues, and T-Rex — promptly changed the group’s name from Oister to the Dwight Twilley Band, which was sure to cause some future issues since Seymour was certainly a full partner in their collaborations.

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Nevertheless, the band struck gold with their very first single, “I’m on Fire,” released in April of 1975, which would make its long, slow climb into the Top Twenty (#16 for the week ending August 2, 1975, its highest position on the charts) but it charted with very little promotion by Shelter Records.

At that point, the band were mainly focused on recording their first album at Trident Studios in London, England, with producer Robin Cable, even though it was clear that Twilley & Seymour obviously knew their own way ’round a studio by that point.

The single’s unexpected success actually ended up being the cause of a few problems in terms of delay for Twilley and company, because it had been one of many tracks recorded at the Church Studio, right around Thanksgiving of ’74.

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That’s right, despite the literally hundreds of songs that they had which were ready to record new versions of, Twilley had written “I’m on Fire” in Los Angeles, sitting in Lemon Grove Park, a little patch of grass which was not far from Shelter’s Hollywood offices.

He and Seymour and Pitcock had worked on the hit song’s layered harmonies and guitar lines back at their tiny apartment, and a few days later they recorded it on November 27, 1974, when they were back in Tulsa for the Thanksgiving break, with Twilley & Seymour producing the session.

(Seymour made his debut on bass during the session, a duty he would continue to perform in the studio thereafter).

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In March of ’75, Twilley, Seymour and Pitcock were in London’s Trident Studios when they learned their “I’m on Fire” single was a hit in the States, and at that point the tracks they were recording were so different, and much more elaborately produced, that it was determined that the sessions produced in L.A. and Tulsa by Twilley and Seymour was the better direction for the band to go.

The Trident sessions were shelved (those tracks for the band’s debut wouldn’t be released for another fifteen years, and when they released the album was somewhat snidely called The B Album).

Their hit single eventually got the band booked on “American Bandstand, and when they made their appearance, in addition to performing “I’m on Fire,” they also lip-synched to a as-yet-unreleased pop song, “Shark (In The Dark),” which was written after the previous summer’s huge box office hit, Jaws.

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Ultimately, though, the version they recorded in August at Russell’s 40-track studio was rejected by Shelter’s distributor, MCA, who were distributing the soundtrack to Jaws and they felt the song would be construed as cashing-in on the blockbuster film’s success.

In hindsight, it was probably better that both Dwight Twilley and his band, or Shelter Records, were removed from being perceived as a band or label who were moved by whatever ephemeral novelty happened to be permeating the cultural zeitgeist at that time.

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However, the follow-up single, “You Were So Warm,” failed due to what was perceived as distribution problems (Shelter was in the midst of switching from MCA to ABC) and Shelter was collapsing in the midst of a lawsuit between Cordell and Russell, who left the label in 1976.

Because of this, the completed debut Dwight Twilley Band album, Sincerely, was delayed for some ten months, and by the time it was in the record stores, the hit single “I’m on Fire” had been off the charts for quite awhile.

Sincerely, the band’s debut album, peaked at just #138 on the Billboard album charts, even as it garnered some amazing reviews (Rolling Stone hailed it as “the best rock debut album of the year”).

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Meanwhile, Twilley and Seymour watched their labelmate and close friend Tom Petty (and his band the Heartbreakers) having the kind of success that they’d imagined for themselves.

Twilley and Seymour had sung backing vocals on “Strangered In The Night” and Seymour was the main backing singer on the Heartbreakers’ first breakout hit, “Breakdown,” and he also sang on “American Girl” too.

As Petty would later note in the liner notes to one of his band’s boxed set, it was Twilley who suggested that the guitar riff at the end of “Breakdown” be moved to the beginning, as that was clearly the song’s hook.

The Shelter label’s ABC distributor would elect to keep Petty’s band and artist J.J. Cale, but neglected to pick up distribution for the Dwight Twilley Band albums, and so when Shelter made another distribution switch, this time to Arista, that left Twilley alone on the new Shelter/Arista label.

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The release of their second album, 1977’s Twilley Don’t Mind — which featured their friend Tom Petty singing backup on a number of tracks — unfortunately failed to connect with all of the fans who had loved “I’m on Fire,” and even though it sold much better than Sincerely had, by 1978, the band were in the midst of dissolving.

Seymour would end up leaving his longtime songwriting and creative partnership with Twilley, and both would strike out on solo careers.

Seymour would also spend some time as a much-in-demand session musician — he played drums for L.A. power pop band 20/20 on their self-titled first album as well as drums on Moon Martin’s Shots from a Cold Nightmare album — eventually signing with Neil Bogart’s Boardwalk Records and releasing his self-titled Phil Seymour album in January of 1981

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Seymour’s song “Precious to Me” — one of the first songs he’d written himself –was a U.S. Top Forty hit.

A second solo album, Phil Seymour 2 was released in 1982 (it featured the Tom Petty song “Surrender”), but when Bogart died shortly after its release, the Boardwalk label collapsed, leaving Seymour without a record deal.

In 1984, Seymour joined the Textones, a roots rock band led by Carla Olson and George Callins, and he recorded with them on their album Midnight Mission, and toured with them as both a singer and drummer.

It was during one of those tours that he became sick and it turned out that he’d developed what turned out to be terminal lymphoma cancer.

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Carla Olson and the Textones, with Phil Seymour, second from right

Seymour moved back to Tulsa to undergo treatment for the cancer and continued to record and play live locally for the rest of his life, albeit at a much-diminished pace, until his death on August 17, 1993, at the Tarzana Medical Centre in Los Angeles.

He was 41 years old.

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Twilley, meanwhile, continued to record for Arista, releasing his first solo album, Twilley, in the early fall of 1978.

He continued on with a successful solo career throughout the rest of the 1970s, but most of what he recorded was not released until many years (even decades) later.

From ’79 until the end of 1981, Twilley worked on his follow-up album for Arista, called Blueprintbut the album was ultimately shelved (Twilley ended up giving two of his songs to Phil Seymour to re-record for his debut solo album in ’81, since for legal reasons he wasn’t able to release them himself; Seymour replaced Twilley’s vocals with his own).

More than a half-dozen of Twilley’s songs would end up being heard in major motion pictures, and on their accompanying soundtracks, such as “Trying To Find My Baby,” which showed up on National Lampoon’s Up The Academy in 1980.

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By the end of 1981, Twilley — who was prevented from releasing any new albums for nearly three years — was finally free of Arista, and free to sign a new contract, which he did with Capitol-EMI Records, who released Scuba Divers in July of ’82.

Twilley appeared with his band (including Bill Pitcock IV) at one of the first ever live MTV concerts, an hour-long special recorded live at Rockabilly’s North in Houston. It aired on July 23, 1982.

He then returned to the studio, where he spent months focusing on his next solo album, recording and mixing tracks between the summer of ’83 right up until November of that year.

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That new album, Jungle, was released in early 1984, and featured a song called “Girls,” on which Twilley thought Tom Petty’s voice would work really well.

Twilley recorded the track mostly in a broken-down recording studio in the La Crescenta area north of Los Angeles that he called “Studio No,” which was an inside joke because whenever he recorded at the studio, the next day he’d be asked whether he got anything done the night before, and his answer was often “No.”

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When it came time to do the video for the track, director Mark Robinson came up with a concept modeled on director Bob Clark’s loosely-autobiographical horny teenager romp Porky’s, a #1 box office smash for eight weeks of its nearly half-year theatrical run in 1982.

At the time, the idea of spoofing a movie was working quite well in the music video world (which are essentially short little movies anyway, right?), and Robinson — who had directed Tina Turner’s “What’s Love Got To Do With It?,” which was getting a lot of airplay on MTV at the time — and his high school sports themed video idea seemed like a good fit for the song, since a lot of high schoolers were also watching MTV at the time.

In the video, shot during two to three days in the Hollywood area at a local high school around Christmastime, when the campus was mostly empty, Twilley can be seen playing coach to a bunch of jocks, and even showing up later in a shaving cream commercial spoof.

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However, what nearly everyone who’s seen the video remembers are the scenes of showering cheerleaders in various states of undress — played by actual Playboy Bunnies — that you can see in that rarely-seen R-rated version, which was made for the Playboy Channel and for airing on HBO and other cable stations where substantial nudity was not a problem.

Carla Olson also appears during a cameo in the video, miming Tom Petty’s vocal parts, which Twilley talks about it this MTV interview.

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Susan Cowsill, Dwight Twilley and Carla Olson, photo by Gary Nichamin

“Girls” would end up being one of MTV’s most-played videos during the summer and fall of 1984, and ultimately, the song would also appear in several movies over the next decade, including 1989’s Worth Winning and it can be heard at the beginning of the 1992 Rodney Dangerfield movie Ladybugs.

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Mark Robinson would go on to direct more than twenty videos that aired during MTV’s prime, including several by Pat Benatar, Pretenders, George Thorogood (“Bad To the Bone”), Bob Dylan (“Sweetheart Like You”), the Ramones and he’d also direct two more for Dwight Twilley, who would perform his song “Girls” on “American Bandstand” on April 7, 1984.

At the time, “Girls” was climbing into Billboard‘s Hot Top 100 chart (it topped out on April 15th, 1984, at #16 for one week).

Twilley’s thriving solo career continues to this day, now in its fifth decade.

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Watch this over two-hour “as aired” full episode of “Night Flight” from August ’84, which also features a suite of experimental video animation starting with Shalom Gorewitz’s Subatomic Babies, Ian Snow Carpenter’s cosmic existential film, The Lessons, an opera commissioned and produced for television by The Kitchen and finally wrapping up with a video retrospective, “20 years of the Kinks.” It’s streaming for our subscribers — are you one of them yet? — over on Night Flight Plus.

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, assistant editor for the When You Awake blog, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.