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99 by Toto

Album: HydraReleased: 1979Charted:
26
  • Toto keyboard player David Paich wrote this song, which he explained is inspired by the 1971 movie THX-1138, which was the first full-length film directed by George Lucas of Star Wars fame. Writes Paich: "This movie is set in the 25th-century in a totalitarian state where mankind is stripped of any individuality. People are numbered drones, and a government-enforced program of sedation controls the populace. Lucas used THX as the name for his movie theater sound system."
  • Interestingly, the song's release coincided with the major-league debut seasons of two famous North American athletes who wore #99 as their jersey number: controversial NFL defensive lineman Mark Gastineau and legendary NHL superstar Wayne Gretzky (although Gretzky had played in a different professional hockey league during the previous season). (thanks, Joshua - Twin Cities, MN)
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Comments: 9

I guess the most charming thing about this song is the name of the title character.
Lots of songwriters would sweat and fret over *just* the right name, to capture the essence of the one who's the object of the song -- these guys realized, hey! - it's all in the lyrics & tune & the feeling you put into the performance -- we can just use a freakin' number for her name, and it'll still work! They didn't even spell the number out, fer cryin out loud!
Personally, I love that. Kudos, Toto!
Fred - Laurel, Md
I guess I always knew, or suspected, that this *couldn't* be about Agent 99 from Get Smart, but I still can't hear the song without thinking of Barbara Feldon. Also because she's a co-alumna of mine (even though long gone by the time I arrived there!).Fred - Laurel, Md
Even though I had my doubts this song was about Get Smart, I am somewhat disappointed it is not . Thanks for the info. I always wanted to know what this song was about.Cc - Rio Grande, Nj
The video (embedded above) reflects the sterile, white THX-1138-inspired environment referred to in the band's description of the song.

As much as I liked the Get Smart character 99, that's just not the connection.
Thog - Paris, Tx
I seriously doubt the song has a reference to Barbara Feldon's character.

The "Get Smart" episode where 99 decides to retire from CONTROL, she reveals to Maxwell that her real name is Susan Hilton.
Aphid - Atlanta, Ga
If it were about the 'Get Smart' character it would make no sense at all. Thanks Dave for setting things straight.Mikey - Boston, Ma
Hmmm... if that's the case, then I stand corrected. FWIW, the Wikipedia page for the Hydra album now contains a note to that effect (including a link to that page) that wasn't there a couple of months ago when I submitted the item about Agent 99. That was based upon a lead I found elsewhere and pursued from there. I never thought to look for their official Website simply because (judging from the lack of airplay of any of their post-1980s material on XM's Deep Tracks channel, which is usually the last radio refuge for rock musicians who have otherwise dropped off the radar), I had no idea Toto was still active as a group. Learn something new and amazing every day, I guess...Joshua - Twin Cities, Mn
According to Toto's official web site, the song was inspired by George Lucas's film "THX1138". The film depicted a "utopian" society in which we were all numbers, not names. If you've seen the movie and seen the video for the song, you'd see the connection immediately. There's no mention of Barbara Feldon's character.Dave - Onalaska, Wi
I remember at an 8th grade dance when this song was popular talking with a friend about wtf the 99 stuff was about. He said "maybe his girl is 99% perfect." It was hilarious because he was one of those guys who everything he said was funny and you were never sure if he was joking or serious.

Now almost 30 years later, I know. Thanks.
Ralph - Newton, Ma