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Musician and Song Writer Danny Elfman

Updated on September 16, 2014

Danny Elfman - Musician, Song Writer

Danny Elfman has gone from a street performer in France to Rock star with Oingo Boingo to one of the busiest music composers in Hollywood. If you do not know who Danny Elfman is, you will be amazed by his music and how many movies and TV shows he has contributed to.

Danny Elfmans Early Years

Danny Elfman was born in 1953 in Los Angeles, Ca. At 18 years of age he went off to France with his violin to meet up with his brother Richard. He joined up with Le Grande Magic Circus and performed on the street. He next was off to Africa were he traveled to Ghana, Mali and Upper Volta taking in the experience, to include picking up some of the musical styles. After one year he moved back to Los Angeles Upon his return to Los Angeles in, he joined his brother to perform with the Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo.

Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo

The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boigo was formed by Richard Elfman in 1972 as a musical theater troupe. The members performed mostly in white face or clown suits and played eclectic music from 1890's to the 1950's. The name came from a fictional society on the Amos and Andy TV show called the The Mystic Knights of the Sea. The band had as many as 15 musicians, playing over 30 instruments.

Richard Elfman's started to have more interest in film making and turned the band over to Danny Elfman. The band started moving away from cabaret style to a more pop or rock style. In 1976, The band played on the popular The Gong Show and won.

Forbidden Zone

Forbidden Zone is a movie that was directed and co-wrote by Richard Elfman. This was the first film that was scored by Danny Elfman and he played the part of the devil. The film used the Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo along with friends and the Elfmans grandfather. The only salared actor was Hervé Villechaize. Other actors were picked up off the street to fill in other parts as the production went forward. From start to finish, it took three years to complete the film. It's release was in 1982.

This was kind of the jumping off point for the band becoming Oingo Boingo. Their music changed to a rock style and they started to tour and record.

Oingo Boingo

It was 1980 when Oingo Boingo released the song Only a Lad with some success on the radio, with Danny Elfman on lead vocals and the remainder of the band reduced in number. The album Only a Lad was released in 1981. They went on to be a very influential group that had a style that was hard to classify. The band and the music was used in some movies, Weird Science being one of them. Danny Elfman mostly wrote and composed the songs. They remained together till 1995 when they went on their fairwell tour.

The albums released by Oingo Boingo:

Only a Lad - 1981

Nothing to fear - 1982

Good for your Soul - 1983

So-Lo - 1984

Dead mans Party - 1985

Boi-ngo - 1987

Dark at the end of the Tunnel - 1990

Boingo - 1994

Oingo Boingo movie contributions:

Longshot - 1981?

Urgh - A Music War - 1981

Good Morning, Mr. Orwell - 1998

Weird Science - 1984

Back to School - 1986

Video of Nothing to Fear from the fairwell tour

This tour gave us the only complete concert footage of Oingo Boingo.

Danny Elfman after Oingo Boingo

In 1985, Danny Elfman was asked by Tim Burton and Paul Reuben’s to write the musical score for Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure. Elfman recruited Oingo Boingo’s guitarist Steve Bartek to help him because of his experience arrainging music. Danny Elfman went on to score all but two of Tim Burton’s movies.

Elfman went on to compose the music for many movies and TV shows, including the theme songs for The Simpsons, Desperate Housewives and at least ten more shows. He has also composed the opening theme songs and soundtracks for some video games.


Danny Elfman has been nominated for 73 awards and won 33. Four of his nominations were for Academy Awards. These were for Good Will Hunting, Men In Black, Big Fish and Milk.

Danny Elfmans Awards

If you want to see all the movies, TV shows and etc. that Danny Elman has been or is involved in, Go to Internet Movie Data Base. He is a very busy man.

Serenada Schizophrana

Elfman ventured into classical music composing with his Serenada Schizophrana. It was played by the American Composers Orchestra in 2005 and later recorded in a studio. Some of the songs were used in the IMAX film Deep Sea 3D. Serenada Schizophrana plays for about 46 minutes with six movements.

The Cat is Dead

These are the lyrics to The Cat is Dead from Little Demons by Elfman. There may be some of it missing but its still interesting to read.

Oh deedle dee, three tots are we, and we're as clever as can be. We live with Grandma Ida and our dear old Grandpa Ned. And little Baby Mike (the brat!) and don't forget the Siamese Cat, and in the attic from New York is big, fat Uncle Fred.

Oh Grandpa wishes he were rich, and Grandma just complains (the bitch!)and Uncle Fred sits drunk in bed, Mike cries all night and day. The cat thinks that he owns the place, he bites and scratches on the face, it'd be so nice if they all went away...

The cat is dead! The cat is dead! I went to pat him on the head, he didn't purr, he didn't meow, he didn't blink or sniff. He seemed to wear a funny smile that made me laugh, but all the while the tail that used to flippy-flop got awful cold and stiff. We chopped him into little bits and seasoned him with apple pits, and with some dust we made a crust and put him in a pie. Into the oven, he did slip, until the crust was nice and crisp, I'll love that little kitty till I die!

Thanks for visiting

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      5 years ago

      Awesome... great topic. Dnny Elfman is an extraordinary musician and composer... Thumbs up!


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