Pac-Man Fever Forever

A tribute to the greatest video game album ever recorded

In late 1981, Jerry Buckner and Gary Garcia decided to write a song about Pac-Man, an arcade video game that was sweeping the nation. They took the resulting song, entitled "Pac-Man Fever," to an agent, Arnie Geller, who was part of the Buie Geller Organization in Atlanta. Geller loved it, had them record it, and sent it to all the big record companies. It was universally rejected.

Undetered, Geller released the song locally on 45. (For you younger folks that only know about compact discs, that was the commonly used name for the format of singles on vinyl record because they played at 45 rpm, as opposed to an album's 33-1/3 rpm.) It was played by a local disc jockey and the requests to play it again started coming in like crazy. Over 10,000 singles were sold in the Atlanta area by the end of the week.

Meanwhile, a CBS Records executive took a copy of the "Pac-Man Fever" demo home with him. His son discovered it and wouldn't stop playing it. CBS contacted the duo and they signed a contract. CBS released the single, but Buckner and Garcia had to come up with an entire album of video game songs within 30 days. Needless to say, they did, and the album was named after the title track: Pac-Man Fever.

Both were released in early 1982 and quickly rose up the charts. The "Pac-Man Fever" single went gold (about 1.7 million copies sold), while the album sold roughly 900,000 units. The single peaked at #9 on the Billboard chart. "Do the Donkey Kong" was released as a follow-up single, but it failed to match "Pac-Man Fever" in popularity and never entered the top 40.

That might have been the end of the story, but the growing "classic video game" movement of the 1990s, fueled by the nostalgia of "Generation X," produced a demand for Pac-Man Fever on CD. The Internet provided the means to sell it. The problem was that CBS wouldn't give Buckner and Garcia access to the master, so they decided to re-record it. In 1999, the CD finally went on sale.