The Strange, Continuing Saga of “867-5309”

Tommy Tutone’s “867-5309” — it’s for you.

Videos by American Songwriter

Who here remembers Tommy Tutone’s “867-5309”? The 1982 radio staple once gripped the nation, and gave away the digits of the fetching Jenny, last name unknown.

On February 9th, Spencer Potter, the New Jersey owner of 201-867-5309, auctioned off the telephone number, along with his DJ company, netting $186,853.09 on eBay.

“This is really, in my opinion, one of the last cultural remnants of 80s pop,” Potter told CNN, “other than the mullet.” Potter said he received over 100,000 phone calls a year from overzealous fans.

One person who’s not happy about the sale? Tommy Tutone.

He tells the Wall Street Journal: “If it wasn’t for me, the number wouldn’t be worth anything. I think he needs to talk to me. He’s dealing in something that I made famous, and trademarked. It’s not a real number. My number is the real number.”

Tutone himself is auctioning the Des Moines, Iowa version of the number, which comes with it’s own viral market company (You can’t legally sell a telephone number, hence the added incentives). Bidding lasts until Tuesday, if you want to get in on this lucrative new field.

Why is the song so valuable? “The sound of the number has a certain hypnotic quality, and I’m not sure what it is,” Tutone told the Journal. “It must be something in the number itself.”

Or maybe it’s the repetition. Check out this hilarious video for a deeper look.


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Songwriter of the Week | The Songbirds > February 16, 2009