In 1975, People Were So Crazy for ‘Jaws’-Related Content They Even Made Dickie Goodman’s Goofy Novelty Song ‘Mr. Jaws’ Into a Hit

black-and-white archival 1975 photo of music producer Dickie Goodman, standing and holding a bottle of champagne (in his right hand) up to the mouth of a stuffed toy shark in his left hand and smiling in a promo shot for the success of his novelty song
Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Dickie Goodman celebrates the success of his song "Mr. Jaws" with a toy shark and a bottle of champagne in 1975.

Jaws, the 1975 movie adaptation of Peter Benchley‘s 1974 bestseller directed by Steven Spielberg, became the first feature film to cross the $100 million mark at the box office, and while that is undoubtedly a tremendous mark of success, a perhaps even greater indicator of how thoroughly Jaws seeped into the pop culture of 1975 and beyond was the fact that it not only inspired a silly novelty song, but one that became a hit of its own.

In the fall of ’75, a few months after the June premiere of Jaws, music producer Dickie Goodman released “Mr. Jaws,” a novelty tune that employed his use of “break-ins,” an early form of the “sampling” that we are now familiar with in music, especially hip-hop. A lot of modern sampling on a song is done incorporating instrumental snippets from other tunes; with his break-ins, Goodman took quick portions of sung lyrics from popular songs of the time and placed them within his comedic spoken-word recordings to serve as surprisingly funny answers to questions.

Goodman had been making humorous recordings of this sort since 1956, and that was the technique he used for “Mr. Jaws,” a parody of Jaws on which Goodman serves as a reporter asking characters from the film — Brody, Hooper, Quint and even the shark (Mr. Jaws) himself — for their thoughts on the movie’s events.

As you can hear in the clip above, the song impressively begins with a bit of John Williams‘ famous theme from Jaws, so I’m guessing this recording must have had permission from Universal for that, along with the use of character names and even the “Jaws” part itself.

Then, over the tune’s next two minutes or so, comes a rapid-fire succession of questions-and-answers, again, with the answers provided via samplings of quick vocal hits from other popular songs of the era.

Some examples of those Q&As in the lyrics:

Reporter (Goodman): “Captain, will you be able to catch this giant shark?” (Cue the “I will, I will, I will!” vocal from “Love Will Keep Us Together” by Captain & Tennille)

Reporter (Goodman): “Just arriving is oceanographer Matt Hooper. Sir, if someone is attacked by a shark, what should they do?” (Cue the “Do the hustle!” vocal from “The Hustle” by Van McCoy and the Soul City Symphony)

Reporter (Goodman): “Mr. Jaws, before you swim out to sea, have you anything else to say?” (Cue the “Why can’t we be friends? Why can’t we be friends?” vocal from “Why Can’t We Be Friends” by War)

Also impressively filtered into the tune are memorable vocal hits from the Bee Gees’ “Jive Talkin’,” the Eagles’ “One of These Nights,” Olivia Newton-John’s “Please Mr. Please” and Glen Campbell’s “Rhinestone Cowboy,” among others (the latter two I believe have been replaced in subsequent recordings by sound-alikes, but the other tunes impressively remain in their original versions).

“Mr. Jaws” is so effectively put together, especially in its timing for the delivery of the questions and answers, that you can’t help laughing at it, even given how dumb and corny it ultimately is. In other words, it’s a quintessential novelty song.

And it certainly was a perfect thing to make my sub-10-year-old self and my friends crack up hysterically when we heard it as kids. But there were obviously plenty of adults who enjoyed the tune, as well — “Mr. Jaws” ultimately peaked at No. 4 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart during the week of Oct. 11, 1975.

I’m not sure when I first encountered the song, but it might have been while listening to WLS radio out of Chicago, which I could easily tune in from my childhood home in southeastern Wisconsin. From what I’ve read, “Mr. Jaws” was particularly popular with WLS listeners.

It’s also possible that I heard it when someone brought in the record to play in school during our art class, while yet another possibility is that what I had actually experienced first was hearing Goodman’s follow-up song, “Mrs. Jaws,” which he put out in 1978 around the time that Jaws 2 came out. (Hey, if Universal was going to try to cash in on their original’s massive popularity with a sequel, how can anyone begrudge Goodman trying the same thing?)

Like “Mr. Jaws,” “Mrs. Jaws” uses the same “break-in” Q&A comedic setup, this time to parody the events of Jaws 2, using vocal bits from popular songs of ’78, including Frankie Valli’s “Grease,” Foreigner’s “Hot Blooded,” Barry Manilow’s “Copacabana” and the Commodores’ “Three Times a Lady,” among others.

Like Jaws 2 itself, “Mrs. Jaws” did not match the success of its predecessor, but is still fun.

Goodman put out a few more “break-in”-style parody recordings of Hollywood blockbusters in the late ’70s and early ’80s, including “Kong” (tying in with the 1976 remake of King Kong), “Star Warts” (parodying a certain 1977 sci-fi blockbuster), “Super Superman” (a 1979 play on the ’78 Christopher Reeve-led superhero classic), “Hey E.T.” (1982) and “Return of the Jedi Returns” (1983).

These and more of Goodman’s songs can be heard at this YouTube channel devoted to his albums and singles.