867-5309/Jenny

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"867-5309/Jenny"
Single by Tommy Tutone
from the album Tommy Tutone 2
B-side "Not Say Goodbye"
Released November 16, 1981
Format 7-inch vinyl
Recorded 1981
Genre Power pop[1]
Length 3:47
Label Columbia 02646
Writer(s) Alex Call
Jim Keller
Certification Gold (RIAA)
Tommy Tutone singles chronology
"Angel Say No"
(1980)
"867-5309/Jenny"
(1981)
"Get Around Girl"
(1983)

"867-5309/Jenny" is a song written by Alex Call and Jim Keller and performed by Tommy Tutone that was released on the album Tommy Tutone 2, on the Columbia Records label. It peaked at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and #1 on the Billboard Top Tracks chart in 1982 (see 1982 in music).[2]

The song caused a fad of people dialing 867-5309 and asking for "Jenny".[3][4]

Creation[edit]

"There was no Jenny," songwriter Alex Call told a Tampa, Florida, columnist in June 2009. "The number? It came to me out of the ether."[5] However, on March 28, 2008, Tommy Tutone lead singer Tommy Heath stated on the WGN Morning News that the number was real and it was the number of a girl he knew. As a joke, he wrote it on a bathroom wall in a motel where they were staying. "We laughed about it for years," he said.[6]

Lead guitarist Jim Keller, interviewed by People in 1982, tells a different story. "Jenny is a regular girl, not a hooker. Friends of mine wrote her name and number on a men's room wall at a bar. I called her on a dare, and we dated for a while. I haven't talked with her since the song became a hit, but I hear she thinks I'm a real jerk for writing it."[7]

Covers[edit]

The song Jenny has been covered by a number of artists, including Everclear, Foo Fighters, Less Than Jake, Bracket, Crease, Jenny's Gentleman, the Goo Goo Dolls and Nirvana.

In 2003 singer-songwriter Mark Weigle included the song on his album Different and the Same. Weigle changed the title to "867-5309 Jimmy".

Popularity and litigation[edit]

The song, released in late 1981, initially gained west-coast popularity in January 1982; many who had the number soon abandoned it because of unwanted calls.

"When we'd first get calls at 2 or 3 in the morning, my husband would answer the phone. He can't hear too well. They'd ask for Jenny, and he'd say 'Jimmy doesn't live here any more.'... Tommy Tutone was the one who had the record. I'd like to get hold of his neck and choke him."

—Mrs. Lorene Burns, an Alabama householder formerly at +1-205-867-5309; she changed her number in 1982.[8]

Asking telephone companies to trace the calls was of no use, as Charles and Maurine Shambarger (then in West Akron, Ohio at +1-216-867-5309) learned when Ohio Bell explained “We don’t know what to make of this. The calls are coming from all over the place.” A little over a month later, they disconnected the number and the phone became silent.[9]

In some cases, the number was picked up by commercial businesses or acquired for use in radio promotions.

  • In 1982, WLS radio obtained the number from a Chicago woman, receiving 22,000 calls in four days.[7]
  • In 1982, Southwest Junior High School received up to two hundred calls daily asking for Jenny in area code 704.[7]
  • Brown University obtained the +1-401-867 prefix in 1999, assigning 867-5309 to a student dormitory room which was promptly inundated with nuisance calls.[10] In 2002 the university transferred the number to Gem Plumbing & Heating,[11] a local business in Lincoln, Rhode Island. Gem began using the number in advertising campaigns both in Rhode Island and in eastern Massachusetts (area code 617), trademarking the number in 2005.
  • A February 2004 auction for the number in a New York City area code was shut down by eBay after objections from Verizon; bidding had reached $80,000.[12]
  • A subsequent February 2004 auction for the number in area code 800 and 888 listed Jeffrey Steinberg's Philadelphia business JSS Marketing for sale, including both numbers as part of the bundle. This circumvents eBay restrictions which prevent selling the numbers on their own.[13]
  • In 2004, Weehawken, New Jersey resident Spencer Potter picked up the number for free after discovering to his surprise that it was available in the 201 area code, hoping it would improve his DJ business. Unable to handle the overwhelming volume of calls, he sought to sell the number on eBay in February 2009. Although bids reached $1 million, his inability to confirm the identity of the bidders led him to sell it privately to Retro Fitness, a gym franchise with a location in Secaucus, New Jersey that felt the 1980s origin of the number tied in perfectly with their business's retro theme.[4]
  • In 2006, Benjamin Franklin Franchising, a large national plumbing franchise, began using a toll-free version of the number (+1-866-867-5309), which it advertises as "867-5309/Benny".[14] In 2007, Gem brought suit against Clockwork Home Services, the parent company of Benjamin Franklin Franchising, alleging a violation of its trademark. Clockwork contended that Gem's trademark was invalid. Effective in May 2007, Clockwork was ordered by a court to stop using the number in New England.[15] As of 2011 +1-866-867-5309 remains in the hands of Benjamin Franklin Franchising as a valid method of reaching BFF customer support.[16] According to Tommy Heath, lead singer of Tommy Tutone, "It's ridiculous. If I wanted to get into it, I could probably take the number away from both of them."[17]
  • In 2009, nutrition firm Natrient LLC leased +1-800-867-5309 from 5309 Partners Ltd for $25 million as part of a radio ad campaign.[18]
  • In July 2009, a Pennsylvania company had the number assigned to a Vonage phone line in the name of a small business, and then listed the entire business for sale on eBay.[19] Whereas telephone numbers are the legal property of the wireline carrier, the logic behind this company and several others was that Vonage as a VOIP provider did not own the numbers, making them open for sale, with eBay being the typical medium.[20][21]
  • When area code 855 was opened in 2010, +1-855-867-5309 was taken in the first 47 seconds on the first day, while Pennsylvania 6-5000 was assigned on the twenty-first day.[22] A captive RespOrg "Voice Box International", controlled by the same people who operate "5309 Partners" and "Five309 LLC", also reserved +1-844-867-5309 in the first few seconds after that area code's December 7, 2013 opening.[23] In January 2013, Five309 LLC announced plans to use 855-867-5309 and 888-867-5309 to promote website JennySearch.com[24] but as of 2013 that site is not being actively updated.
  • Associate Justice Elena Kagan's opinion in the unanimous 2013 Supreme Court case American Trucking Associations v. Los Angeles uses the number as a hypothetical placard on each truck inviting calls with safety or environmental complaints.[25]

A study on the security of numerical passwords in 2012 revealed that 8675309 is the fourth most common 7-digit password, speculating that it is easy to remember because of the popularity of this song, despite being otherwise fairly random (as opposed to the #1 most common 7-digit password: 1234567).[26] On Microsoft's WebTV (in standby mode) 8675309 is a hidden code which causes the unit to call Microsoft for firmware updates.[27] 8675309 is prime, and is part of a twin prime pair.[28]

An October 2011 WBTV local newscast reported that a majority of retail loyalty programs which use the client's local telephone number alone as an identifier showed 867-5309 as registered and eligible for point-of-sale discounts.[29]

In 2011, the Mayo Clinic released a public service announcement "Jenny please watch your numbers, Blood pressure, lipids and BMI", as an online music video which used portions of the 1982 original, including the number.[30]

Springsteen controversy[edit]

Singer-songwriter Bruce Springsteen's popular single "Radio Nowhere" features a set of guitar riffs at the beginning that many fans considered particularly similar to "867-5309/Jenny", although the lyrics and the tone of the two songs are quite different. Heath said in response, tongue-in-cheek, "the kids do need braces so maybe I will [sue Springsteen for musical plagiarism]". Heath clarified later on that he had no actual intention whatsoever of taking action and that he felt "really honored at a similarity, if any".[31]

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1981–82) Peak
position
US Billboard Top Tracks 1
Canadian RPM Top Singles 2
US Billboard Hot 100 4
New Zealand Singles Chart 32

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Allmusic Review
  2. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits, 8th Edition (Billboard Publications), p. 638.
  3. ^ Urban Legends Reference Pages: Jenny 867-5309.
  4. ^ a b LaMarca, Stephen. "Jenny 867-5309 won't lead to Jenny". The Hudson Reporter. July 24, 2011. page 3
  5. ^ "BOB Stock back". Nl.newsbank.com. 2009-07-03. Retrieved 2011-09-01. 
  6. ^ "Tommy Tutone Jenny 867-5309 Live on WGN Morning News". Youtube.com. 2008-03-28. Retrieved 2011-09-01. 
  7. ^ a b c Bricker, Rebecca (1982-05-31). Tommy Tutone's Got Your Number—if It's 867-5309—as America Dials Up a Musical Party Line. People magazine. Retrieved 2012-12-27. 
  8. ^ "867-5309 is not Jenny". Lakeland (Florida) Ledger. May 16, 1982. p. 2A. 
  9. ^ Price, Mark J. (April 29, 2012). "Local history: There is no Jenny at 867-5309". Akron Beacon-Journal, Ohio. Retrieved 2012-12-24. 
  10. ^ Brener, Julie. "New Phone Exchange Leads to Confusion, Prank Calls", The Brown Daily Herald, Brown University, Rhode Island, 10 September 1999, cited by [1].
  11. ^ http://www.gemplumbing.com/contact.html Gem Plumbing Inc. - Plumbing Contractor, Lincoln, Rhode Island.
  12. ^ "1-800-catchy-number- makes-a-lot-of-money". Baltimore Sun. 2004-03-09. Retrieved 2013-05-17. 
  13. ^ "Jenny Is Now Toll-Free: Seller Puts 800-867-5309 on eBay". Ecommercebytes. 2004-02-20. Retrieved 2013-05-28. 
  14. ^ http://www.montereyherald.com/gomagazine/ci_24365426/tommy-tutone-headlines-first-rock-and-chocolate-fest
  15. ^ "Plumbers fight for 'Jenny' number". USA Today. Associated Press. 2007-05-20. Retrieved 2013-10-26. 
  16. ^ "Contact Benjamin Franklin Plumbing". Benjaminfranklinparma.com. Retrieved 2011-09-01. 
  17. ^ "2 Plumbing Companies Battle for Rights to 867-5309 Telephone Number". Fox News. Associated Press. 2007-05-19. Retrieved 2013-10-26. 
  18. ^ Negus, Beth (2009-03-17). Nutrition Firm Leases 800-867-5309; Jenny Probably Not Included. Chief Marketer. Retrieved 2012-12-27. 
  19. ^ "867-5309 for sale | Tampa Bay, St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Sarasota". WTSP.com. Retrieved 2011-01-28. 
  20. ^ CNN.com: '867-5309' number for sale on eBay, February 2, 2009.
  21. ^ Duke, Alan. "'867-5309' bids up to $365,000". CNN. February 3, 2009
  22. ^ Search for 8**-867-5309 and 8**-736-5000 on search.tollfreenumbers.com/Lookups.asp
  23. ^ SMS/800 database (lookup on www.800forall.com) and Florida public corporation registry data (lookup on www.corporationwiki.com). Both the 844 and 855 numbers are controlled by the same entities.
  24. ^ John McKay (January 29, 2013). "Tommy Tutone’s One Hit Wonder ’867-5309′ Now REALLY Is for a Good Time!". KFLD AM 870. 
  25. ^ Seifter, Miriam (June 14, 2013). "Opinion analysis: In deciding American Trucking, the Court takes a narrow road". SCOTUSblog. Bloomburg Law. Retrieved June 14, 2013. 
  26. ^ PIN analysis by DataGenetics [2], September 20, 2012.
  27. ^ "Advanced DishPlayer Codes". Satelliteone.com. Retrieved 2013-05-13. 
  28. ^ "The First 100,000 Twin Primes". 
  29. ^ O'Boyle, Maureen (October 2012). "Stretching Your Dollar: Jenny's number saves money". WBTV Charlotte, North Carolina. Retrieved 2013-05-16. 
  30. ^ "'Know Your Numbers': Mayo Clinic Parodies '867-5309/Jenny' Song To Promote Heart Health". Huffington Post. 2011-10-24. Retrieved 2012-12-27. 
  31. ^ Horowitz, Carl F. "Sue Me, Sue You: Musical 'Plagiarism' in court". National Legal and Policy Center. Archived from the original on 24 May 2008. Retrieved 23 November 2008. 

External links[edit]