Album: Eddie and the Cruisers soundtrack (1983)
Charted: 7

Songfacts®:

  • This was written for Eddie and the Cruisers, a 1983 movie about a New Jersey bar band. In the film, the song becomes the band's big hit and leads to a second album and a conflict with their record company.

    Michael Paré portrays Eddie in the film, with Tom Berenger playing his bandmate, Frank. John Cafferty & the Beaver Brown Band, a bar band from Rhode Island, supplied the song, which became a real hit for the real group portrayed as a fictional band in the film.
  • This rocker is very chorus heavy and gets right to the point in the first line:

    The dark side's callin' now, nothin' is real

    The guy in the song is out of sorts because he's transfixed by a woman who will never know how he feels. He slips to the dark side, another victim of unrequited love.
  • John Cafferty & the Beaver Brown Band were not just the musical avatars of Eddie and the Cruisers, but inspiration for the look and feel of the band. Kenny Vance who was the music supervisor on Eddie and the Cruisers, told Songfacts the story: "I met [director] Marty Davidson at a party. I'd never met him before, and he talked to me about the fact that he was getting ready to do a movie in South Jersey. I didn't know there was a book Eddie and the Cruisers, I didn't know any of that stuff. And I said to him I used to be a in a group called Jay & the Americans, and we used to play a lot down there. I have a lot of photographs of us in those days down at the Jersey Shore. So he said, 'Boy, I'd really like to see that stuff, would you come up to the production office?'

    The next day I went up to the production office and I showed him all these pictures. We had an old Chevy, and we had a U-haul that we pulled our equipment in, and I also had the marquee of this place that we played in Wildwood called The Beachcomber. We played there with the Isley Brothers, and also Steve Gibson and the Modern Redcaps. While I was there, he says to me, 'Let me play you the music.'

    There was a song called 'On The Dark Side' - I think that title was from the book. He played me the music and he says, 'What do you think?' And I said, 'It's horrible. It's a joke.' It was like a jingle writer or a Broadway guy writing his version of what he thought that should be. And he says to me, 'Well, what do you think it should be?' And I said, 'It should be authentic.'

    I took the script home and while I'm reading the script, I'm envisioning this group that I had seen about a year ago while I was walking on Bleeker and McDougal - I saw John Cafferty & the Beaver Brown Band at The Bitter End. And as I'm reading the script, I keep thinking of these guys. I think of Tunes, the sax player, and I called Marty up and I said, 'I kind of know the real life Eddie and the Cruisers.'

    I didn't know where they were from, even. And I started to do some research, and I wound up going up to Rhode Island. Marty Davidson trusted me, and he said, 'Well, what can you do?' I gave Cafferty the script, and he came up with his version of 'On The Dark Side' based on kind of a Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels song. I told Marty that I thought we had something great, and he says, 'Well, I could give you a couple of dollars to make some demos.' We brought the guys down to RCA Studios in New York, and we recorded 'On The Dark Side.' We recorded 'Oldies But Goodies' with me singing, and 'Betty Lou's Got A New Pair Of Shoes.' And that night the Hollywood guys flew in from California, because Cafferty was going to be playing in a bar in New Jersey. I got them in my car, we drove out there, and in the parking lot of the bar, I played them 'On The Dark Side.' And then we went in, and when they saw Cafferty destroy the room with 'Wild Summer Nights' and all the other stuff, they immediately had a template for who Eddie and the Cruisers should be, and also what the music should be. And they basically fired the guy that they had hired, and they hired us, and we wound up doing all the music for the film."
  • The movie Eddie and the Cruisers didn't do very well when it was first released, and neither did this song - it peaked at #64 in November 1983. But the movie had a surprising resurgence and the song was re-released, going to #7 in October 1984.

    "What happened was, the movie came out and that was the end of it," Kenny Vance told Songfacts. "And about a year later, Cafferty and I were working on his second album. The big deal out of the whole thing was that Cafferty got a record deal. And so we were working on the second album and we got a phone call from Columbia that said, 'You just sold 25,000 albums today.' What are you talking about? They said, 'Eddie and the Cruisers.' When HBO first went on the air, they would play a movie for a month in rotation, like, you'd see it seven times a day. And it became a f--king smash. And we were stunned. It just goes to show you, you show up, you do a great job to the best of your ability, and you never really know about the results. When the movie came out it bombed. We were very, very lucky with that, and wound up selling almost 4 million albums."

Comments: 6

  • Firebird7479 from PhiladelphiaI was in the movie. I was an extra at the college concert scene. We all thought they sounded like Springsteen. However, the movie stinks. The music does not fit 1962. 1972, yes. Not 1962.
  • Cjstevens from Western MontanaDark Side just came on a local station. It's on my 'all-time favorites' list, in part because the sax player is right on the money.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn October 20th 1984, John Cafferty & the Beaver Brown Band performed "On the Dark Side" on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
    The song first entered the Billboard Hot Top 100 chart more than a year earlier on October 2nd, 1983 at position #94, it re-entered in 1984 and the day after the band's appearance on 'Bandstand' it peaked at #7 {for 2 weeks} and spent a grand total of 27 weeks on the Top 100..
    On the same 'Bandstand' show the sextet also performed "Tender Years"; it peaked at #31 {for 1 week} on January 6th, 1985.
  • Supergrassfan from Pepperland, PaVery reminiscent of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band's sound
  • Jon from Enumclaw , WaI love this movie!
  • Johnnys Cousin Steve from Villas, NjGreat movie...Great tune...Great band! I was one of those kids who saw it 20 times on HBO one Summer living down at the shore! Great job Kenny Vance for putting all that together! Wouldn't have been the same movie without him. Check out Jay and the Americans too!!!
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