Electric Boogie

Album: Carousel (1982)
Charted: 51
  • Commonly known as the "Electric Slide," the line dance craze that swept America in the '90s actually has its roots in '70s Jamaica. Written and recorded by Bunny Wailer (of Bob Marley's reggae group The Wailers) in 1976, the song first garnered attention when Marcia (pronounced "Mar-see-a") Griffiths, a member of Marley's famous backing group the I-Threes, covered it in 1982 and sent it to the top of the Jamaican charts. But why did the tune take nearly a decade to boogie-woogie its way over to the Billboard Hot 100?

    US record execs figured that when reggae god Marley died in 1981, he took any mainstream interest in the genre with him. His son Ziggy Marley proved them wrong with his 1988 album, Conscious Party, which earned international acclaim with hits like "Tomorrow People" and "Tumblin' Down," and a Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album. When a radio station DJ in Washington, DC decided to give "Electric Boogie" a spin in the summer of 1989, it wasn't long before Americans were electric sliding their way through weddings and bar mitzvahs. The track peaked at #51 in January 1990.
  • In an interview with Index Magazine, Griffiths recalls when the Jamaican tune became an American phenomenon: "When I was in the US on the Sunsplash tour in 1989, I got a call from Doctor Dread from Ras Records, saying, 'Marcia, your song is getting to be so big. They have a dance for it and everything.' When I sang it in Washington, DC, the entire audience got up and started doing the dance - I was forced to learn it on the spot! I said, 'Lord, this is unbelievable.' After that, it just got bigger and bigger."
  • Griffiths was also half of the popular '60s duo Bob and Marcia, alongside reggae vocalist Bob Andy. The pair had a #5 UK hit in 1970 with a cover of Nina Simone's "Young, Gifted And Black."
  • Choreographer Ric Silver created the four-wall line dance set, which originally had 22 steps, in 1976 to a demo version of the song. Silver teaches the moves on a series of YouTube videos.
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