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Wednesday, January 03, 2018

How Neil Young* Got DEVO on ‘Saturday Night Live’ in 1978

DEVO and Neil Young
Frame from Human Highway Film - Directors Bernard Shakey & Dean Stockwell (1982)

So what role did Neil Young play in getting DEVO onto ‘Saturday Night Live’ in 1978?

Actually, Neil Young's role is indirect, according to DEVO's bassist Jerry Casale. From How gumption, stick-to-itiveness, and Neil Young got DEVO on ‘Saturday Night Live’ in 1978 | Dangerous Minds by Ron Kretsch:
DEVO's Jerry Casale: We had been sending videotapes to Saturday Night Live since 1976, after we did the Truth About De-Evolution

ten minute movie, and we thought “Dan Aykroyd will get us on the show, John Belushi’ll get us on the show!” And we kept sending it with letters, and I’m sure it just went in a trash bin. These people were big time, and I’m sure they were thinking “Who ARE these weirdos?” So it was me not wanting to take no for an answer, and I just kept it up.

When we were interviewing managers, and we met Elliott Roberts, who was Neil Young’s manager, he said two good things—“I don’t want a piece of your publishing,” and “I don’t want you to sign a deal, we’ll shake hands and you give me 30 days notice when you say it’s over and I’ll give you the same.” I said “That’s great, but there’s one thing you gotta do! You have to get us on Saturday Night Live, and you have to make them let us show a piece of our movie.” And he goes “Oh my GOD.”

And he did it, because he dangled Neil Young as bait, saying “You’ll take these guys, Lorne—Lorne did NOT care about DEVO—and we’ll get you Neil Young. And then he dropped the bomb about the film, and that was almost a deal breaker. But it all worked out, and we went from playing in from 200-300 people a night to 3,000-5,000 people a night. We had to stop the tour and re-book it after Saturday Night Live.
DEVO Gets Nuked in Human Highway

The 1982 film Human Highway by Neil Young portrays the Earth's last day following a nuclear holocaust. Original movie posters referred to it as a "nuclear comedy" and filming began soon after the Three Mile Island nuclear accident and continued over four years with Young spending $3,000,000 of his own money on production (source).

The film is considered a cult classic somewhat similar to the legendary Journey Through the Past and has been described as "if David Lynch directed "The Wizard of Oz on acid."

"It's so bad, it's going to be huge" proudly declared the poster.

A noted sequence in the film features the band DEVO (named after "de-evolution") and a bizarre rendition of "Hey, Hey, My, My".

The plot revolves around a small gas station-diner in a fictional town next to a nuclear power plant. A choreographed musical dream sequence takes place as the nuclear blast occurs. At the destroyed gas station-diner post nuclear holocaust Booji Boy (DEVO's Mark Mothersbaugh) is a lone survivor.

At the nuclear power plant, trash collectors (members of DEVO) reveal that radioactive waste is routinely mishandled and dumped at the nearby town of Linear Valley. They sing a remake of "Worried Man Blues" while loading waste barrels on an old truck. There's a leak at the power plant and "Barrel go boom," as the power plant worker so succinctly puts it. A character's (Otto) recent death is by radiation poisoning.

Ad via DevoObsesso

More on Neil Young's film 'Human Highway'.

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At 1/04/2018 03:09:00 AM, Blogger Pat2963 said...

Where is sugar mountain?

At 1/04/2018 09:06:00 AM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

I was quite disappointed that the dream sequence with Devo on the Blu Ray directors cut of Human Highway was cut. On the VHS version, this song runs 9:48, but on the new Blu-ray it only lasts 2:40. It was my favorite part of the movie. Why????? Only Neil knows for sure.


At 1/04/2018 09:48:00 AM, Blogger thrasher said...

@Pat - we understand that there are domain issues w/ Sugar Mountain that should be resolved soon. Nothing nefarious or alarming.

@ Dan - yes, when we saw the Director's Cut, it did seem briefer than our recollections.

As for why? Only the Shakey director knows for sure.

At 1/04/2018 01:09:00 PM, Blogger Pat2963 said...

Thanks trasher.
I don't know where and when i've seen that movie
But that part with DEVO was awesome and really special
I was hoping tout find it on the archives.
You know the rest......


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