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On the Record: Did Robert Cray have a part in ‘Animal House’?

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Q: Is it true that Robert Cray played a part in “Animal House”? I don’t remember seeing him in the movie.

A: Although not listed in the film’s credits, blues guitarist Robert Cray did indeed play a role in “Animal House.”

Cray’s career was just starting when he met John Belushi in the mid ’70s.

When it came time to create the fictional band Otis Day & the Knights, Belushi invited Cray to be part of the group. If you look closely, you’ll see Cray performing as the band’s bass player.

A few years after the movie came out, Cray released his debut album, “Who’s Been Talkin’,” in 1980. Success came Cray’s way in 1987 when his fourth album, “Strong Persuader,” became a hit. The album reached No. 13 and won a Grammy for Best Contemporary Blues Album.

Q: My wife and I were flipping through the TV channels recently and came across an old episode of “Barney Miller.” We both are wondering who played the distinctive bass line on the “Barney Miller” theme?

A: The bassist credited with originating the now-famous bass line for the “Barney Miller” theme is noted double bassist, Chuck Berghofer.

Born in June 1937 in Denver, Colorado, Berghofer initially began playing the trumpet at age 8, soon after his family moved to California. It was not until he turned 18 that he switched from brass to the bass, a path similar to the one taken by his mentor, Ralph Peña.

Berghofer quickly established himself as a leading jazz bassist.

In 1966, he sat in on a session that was to change the direction of his musical career. He was asked to play bass on Nancy Sinatra’s soon-to-be No. 1 hit song, “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’.”

The success of that song led him to other performances with, among myriad others, Elvis Presley, Glen Campbell and even Ol’ Blue Eyes himself, Frank Sinatra.

Berghofer has over 400 film appearances to his credit and continues to perform in L.A.’s jazz clubs as a regular member of the Frank Capp Juggernaut Big Band, the Flying Pisanos Ensemble, the Shelly Berg Trio and his own group the Midnight Jazz Band.

Q: The Goo Goo Dolls song “Iris” is one of those songs that does not include its title in its lyrics. Where did the name come from?

A: The name of the song is a reference to Grammy-nominated folk singer Iris DeMent.

DeMent has been recording music since 1992, and her songs have been featured on many television shows and movies including the Coen brothers’ remake of the film, “True Grit.”

DeMent was also a frequent guest on public radio’s “A Prairie Home Companion.”

You’ll be surprised to find out that there’s no great story behind the song title. Goo Goo Dolls guitarist, singer, and chief songwriter, John Rzeznik, simply found her name in Billboard magazine and thought that “Iris” would be a good title for his song. Featured in the film “City of Angels,” “Iris” was a Top Ten hit in 1998.

What’s the name of that song? Where are they now? What does that lyric mean? Send your questions about songs, albums, and the musicians who make them to Bradford Brady and John Maron are freelance music writers based in Raleigh, N.C.


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