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US single label
Single by Tommy Tutone
from the album Tommy Tutone 2
B-side"Not Say Goodbye"
ReleasedNovember 16, 1981 (1981-11-16)
GenrePower pop[1][2][3][4]
Tommy Tutone singles chronology
"Angel Say No"
"Get Around Girl"
Music video
"867-5309/Jenny" on YouTube

"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 (1981) through Columbia Records. It peaked at number four on the Billboard Hot 100 and number one on the Rock Top Tracks chart in April 1982. The song led to a fad of people prank calling unsuspecting victims by dialing 867-5309 and asking for "Jenny".[5][6]


Lead guitarist Jim Keller, interviewed by People in 1982, said: "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]

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.[8]

However, in a June 2004 interview with Songfacts, co-writer Alex Call explained his version of the song's real origins:

Despite all the mythology to the contrary, I actually just came up with the 'Jenny,' and the telephone number and the music and all that just sitting in my backyard. There was no Jenny. I don't know where the number came from, I was just trying to write a 4-chord Rock song and it just kind of came out. This was back in 1981 when I wrote it, and I had at the time a little squirrel-powered 4-track in this industrial yard in California, and I went up there and made a tape of it. I had the guitar lick, I had the name and number, but I didn't know what the song was about. This buddy of mine, Jim Keller, who's the co-writer, was the lead guitar player in Tommy Tutone. He stopped by that afternoon and he said, 'Al, it's a girl's number on a bathroom wall,' and we had a good laugh. I said, 'That's exactly right, that's exactly what it is.'

Tommy Tutone's been using the story for years that there was a Jenny and she ran a recording studio and so forth. It makes a better story but it's not true. That sounds a lot better than I made it up under a plum tree in my backyard.

I had the thing recorded. I had the name and number, and they were in the same spots, 'Jenny... 867-5309.' I had all that going, but I had a blind spot in the creative process, I didn't realize it would be a girl's number on a bathroom wall. When Jim showed up, we wrote the verses in 15 or 20 minutes, they were just obvious. It was just a fun thing, we never thought it would get cut. In fact, even after Tommy Tutone made the record and '867-5309' got on the air, it really didn't have a lot of promotion to begin with, but it was one of those songs that got a lot of requests and stayed on the charts. It was on the charts for 40 weeks.

I've met a few Jennys who've said, "Oh, you're the guy who ruined my high school years." But for the most part, Jennys are happy to have the song.[9]

"There was no Jenny," Call also told a Tampa, Florida, columnist in June 2009. "The number? It came to me out of the ether."[10]

In the music video, the "Jenny" character is played by Karen Elaine Morton.[11]

Popularity and litigation[edit]

The song, released in late 1981, initially gained popularity on the American West Coast 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.

— Lorene Burns, an Alabama householder formerly at +1-205-867-5309; she changed her number in 1982.[12]

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.[13]

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 that was promptly inundated with nuisance calls.[14] The number was subsequently assigned to a plumbing company, which registered it as a trademark.[15]
  • A February 2004 auction for the number in a New York City code was shut down by eBay after objections from Verizon; bidding had reached $80,000.[16] The US Federal Communications Commission takes the position that most phone numbers are "public resources" that "are not owned by carriers or their customers" but did not rule out the number being sold as part of a business.[17]
  • 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.[18]
  • 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.[19][20] Unable to handle the overwhelming volume of calls, he sought to sell the number on eBay in February 2009.[21][22] 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 with their business's retro theme.[6]
  • 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 advertised as "867-5309/Benny".[23] In 2007, Gem Plumbing & Heating brought suit against Clockwork Home Services, the parent company of Benjamin Franklin Franchising, alleging a violation of its trademark.[24] 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.[25] 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."[26]
  • 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.[27]
  • In July 2009, Jason Kaplan had +1-267-867-5309 assigned to a Vonage phone line in the name of a small business[28] and then listed the entire business for sale on eBay.[29] The auction closed at $5,500.[21][30]
  • In January 2013, Five309 LLC announced plans to use 855-867-5309 and 888-867-5309 to promote the website JennySearch.com.[31]
  • In 2013, Florida realtor Carrie Routt was still receiving fifty prank calls daily at +1-850-867-5309.[32]
  • A Fort Collins, Colorado, restaurant, Totally 80's Pizza, uses +1-970-867-5309 as part of its 1980s theme.[33]

Springsteen controversy[edit]

Singer-songwriter Bruce Springsteen's 2007 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. Regarding legal action, Heath said, "I think it's close enough that if I wanted to, I could work with it... I don't really get into that sort of thing, but the kids do need braces, so maybe I will."[34][35] He later clarified that he had no interest in suing and felt "really honored at a similarity, if any".[36]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Just Can't Get Enough: New Wave Hits of the 80's, Vol. 5 - Various Artists | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved May 29, 2020.
  2. ^ Adams, Bret. "Tutone.rtf - Tommy Tutone | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved July 8, 2020.
  3. ^ "World Series Showdown: Music of Detroit vs San Francisco". Billboard. October 24, 2012. Retrieved July 8, 2020.
  4. ^ Billboard Staff (October 19, 2023). "The 500 Best Pop Songs: Staff List". Billboard. Retrieved February 10, 2024. The power-pop gem that turned seven digits' worth of bathroom graffiti into the catchiest (and most-pranked) phone number of the 1980s.
  5. ^ "Did the Song 'Jenny' Produce a Flood of Calls to 867-5309?". Urban Legends Reference Pages. November 10, 2000. Archived from the original on September 12, 2012. Retrieved August 20, 2014.
  6. ^ a b LaMarca, Stephen (July 24, 2011). "Jenny 867-5309 Won't Lead to Jenny". The Hudson Reporter. p. 3. Archived from the original on February 3, 2014. Retrieved January 22, 2014.
  7. ^ a b c Bricker, Rebecca (May 31, 1982). "Tommy Tutone's Got Your Number—if It's 867-5309—as America Dials Up a Musical Party Line". People. Vol. 17, no. 21. pp. 34–38. Archived from the original on June 4, 2009. Retrieved December 27, 2012.
  8. ^ Tutone, Tommy (March 28, 2008). "Tommy Tutone '867-5309/Jenny' Live". WGN Morning News. Chicago: WGN-TV. Retrieved September 1, 2011 – via YouTube.
  9. ^ "Alex Call (867-5309): Songwriter Interviews". Songfacts.com. Retrieved January 28, 2018.
  10. ^ La Porte, John (July 3, 2009). "BOB Stock Back". Fort Morgan Times. Retrieved September 1, 2011 – via NewsBank.
  11. ^ "The Girl in the Video: "867-5309/Jenny" (1981)". noblemania.com. Noblemania.
  12. ^ "867-5309 Is not Jenny". Lakeland Ledger. May 16, 1982. p. 2A.
  13. ^ Price, Mark J. (April 29, 2012). "Local History: There Is No Jenny at 867-5309". Akron Beacon Journal. Archived from the original on April 10, 2019. Retrieved December 24, 2012.
  14. ^ Brener, Julie (September 10, 1999). "New Phone Exchange Leads to Confusion, Prank Calls". The Brown Daily Herald. Brown University.
  15. ^ Boniface, Dan (May 19, 2007). "Plumbers fight for famous phone number: 867-5309". 9News.
  16. ^ Thanh Dang, Dan (March 9, 2004). "1-800-Catchy-Number- Makes-a-Lot-of-Money". The Baltimore Sun. Archived from the original on June 8, 2013. Retrieved May 17, 2013.
  17. ^ Yardley, William (February 19, 2004). "Hey, Jenny, Your Number Was on Wall, And on eBay". The New York Times. Archived from the original on December 7, 2019.
  18. ^ "Jenny Is Now Toll-Free: Seller Puts 800-867-5309 on eBay". Ecommercebytes. February 20, 2004. Retrieved May 28, 2013.
  19. ^ Applebome, Peter (January 31, 2009). "Jenny, Don't Change Your Number; You Might Want to Sell It on eBay". The New York Times. Archived from the original on April 22, 2021. Retrieved August 19, 2019.
  20. ^ "Man selling 867-5309 number on eBay". United Press International. February 2, 2009. Archived from the original on July 22, 2015.
  21. ^ a b Duke, Alan (February 2, 2009). "'867-5309' number for sale on eBay". CNN. Archived from the original on February 3, 2019.
  22. ^ Michaels, Sean (February 4, 2009). "Phone number behind Tommy Tutone hit 867-5309 (Jenny) listed on eBay". The Guardian. Archived from the original on January 28, 2021.
  23. ^ McDonald, Mac (October 22, 2013). "Tommy Tutone Headlines the First Rock and Chocolate Fest". Go Magazine. The Monterey County Herald. Archived from the original on February 26, 2014. Retrieved November 1, 2020.
  24. ^ "Rival plumbers fight over 'Jenny's' digits". Today. Associated Press. May 19, 2007. Archived from the original on September 16, 2020. Retrieved November 1, 2020.
  25. ^ "Plumbers Fight for 'Jenny' Number". USA Today. Associated Press. May 20, 2007. Archived from the original on February 4, 2019. Retrieved November 1, 2020.
  26. ^ "2 Plumbing Companies Battle for Rights to 867-5309 Telephone Number". Fox News. Associated Press. May 19, 2007. Archived from the original on October 29, 2013. Retrieved October 26, 2013.
  27. ^ Negus, Beth (March 17, 2009). "Nutrition Firm Leases 800-867-5309: Jenny Probably Not Included". Chief Marketer. Retrieved December 27, 2012.
  28. ^ Klein, Michael (August 4, 2009). "Ringing up 867-5309". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Archived from the original on September 19, 2020.
  29. ^ Collington, Theresa (July 28, 2009). "867-5309 For Sale". WTSP-TV. Associated Press. Archived from the original on February 17, 2013. Retrieved January 28, 2011.
  30. ^ Duke, Alan (February 3, 2009). "'867-5309' Bids up to $365,000". CNN. Archived from the original on February 6, 2012.
  31. ^ McKay, John (January 29, 2013). "Tommy Tutone's One-Hit Wonder '867-5309′ Now Really Is for a Good Time!". KFLD. Archived from the original on September 19, 2020.
  32. ^ Hijek, Barbara (November 19, 2013). "Woman OK with crank calls to her rockin' phone number 867-5309". Sun-Sentinel. Archived from the original on February 27, 2014.
  33. ^ Udell, Erin (August 17, 2018). "Totally 80's Pizza changed its number to 867-5309 in epic 80s homage". Fort Collins Coloradoan. Archived from the original on May 11, 2021. Retrieved August 23, 2018.
  34. ^ Caro, Mark (September 2, 2007). "Name that Tutone tune". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on December 29, 2019. Retrieved December 29, 2019.
  35. ^ Dansby, Andrew (August 13, 2019). "Tommy Tutone dials up roots rock to accompany '867-5309'". Houston Chronicle. Archived from the original on August 13, 2019. Retrieved May 11, 2021. Springsteen came damn close to cribbing the guitar riff from "867-5309" for his "Radio Nowhere" a few years back. The rudiments of their music overlap more than some would admit.
  36. ^ Horowitz, Carl F. "Sue Me, Sue You: Musical 'Plagiarism' in Court". National Legal and Policy Center. Archived from the original on May 24, 2008. Retrieved November 23, 2008.
  37. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. Australian Chart Book, St Ives, N.S.W. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  38. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 6491." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved March 5, 2023.
  39. ^ "Tommy Tutone – 867-5309/Jenny". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved July 2, 2017.
  40. ^ "Tommy Tutone Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved July 2, 2017.
  41. ^ "Tommy Tutone Chart History (Mainstream Rock)". Billboard. Retrieved July 2, 2017.
  42. ^ "Cash Box Top 100 Singles – Week ending May 22, 1982". Cash Box Magazine. May 22, 1982. Archived from the original on September 21, 2012. Retrieved July 14, 2018.
  43. ^ "Top 100 Singles of 1982". RPM. Vol. 37, no. 19. December 25, 1982. Retrieved July 14, 2018.
  44. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1982/Top 100 Songs of 1982". Music Outfitters. Retrieved July 14, 2018.
  45. ^ "Year-End Charts: Top 100 Pop Singles". Cash Box. December 31, 1982. Archived from the original on September 21, 2012. Retrieved July 14, 2018.

External links[edit]