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One of the first unknown artists to capitalize on the MTV craze of the early '80s was a tongue-in-cheek New York band called Blotto. The group's novelty video for "I Wanna Be a Lifeguard" debuted on MTV during the initial hours of their premiere telecast and became an instant hit, remaining on their airwaves for months. Blotto originated as the Star-Spangled Washboard Band in the '70s. The group performed bluegrass songs and even appeared on Mike Douglas' national TV talk show. The band split up in the late '70s, but four of their members continued to work together. Taking the name Blotto from a 1931 novel by Thorne Smith, the group started gigging regularly in the Albany, NY, area. Inspired by the Ramones, the members adopted Blotto as their surnames. Consisting of vocalist Sergeant Blotto, guitarists Broadway Blotto and Bowtie Blotto, bassist Cheese Blotto, and drummer Lee Harvey Blotto, the band saved enough cash to record their own four-track EP, Hello! My Name Is Blotto. What's Yours?, in 1980. The self-released record became a regional favorite thanks to the surprise radio success of "I Wanna Be a Lifeguard." In 1982, Blotto toured with Blue Öyster Cult and recorded an album, Combo Akimbo, a year later. The hard rock parody "Metal Head" turned into another MTV staple, but all of their exposure couldn't land them a major-label deal. The group's odd, goofy tunes easily found a home on Dr. Demento's radio show. Although Blotto disbanded in 1984, they eventually reunited several times for live performances. On August 15, 1994, Mayor Jerry Jennings proclaimed the day as "Blotto Day" in Albany. In 1995, Blotto was inducted into the Capital Area Musicians' Association Hall of Fame. ~ Michael Sutton

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1979 in Albany, NY

Years Active:

'70s, '80s, '90s, '00s