In 1976, Memphis radio DJ Rick Dees wrote and recorded “Disco Duck” after being inspired by a 1965 Jackie Lee novelty song called “The Duck.”
Ken Pruitt, an acquaintance of Dees, performed the voice of the Disco Duck, although because of the the voice’s similarity to Donald Duck’s, many people assumed that it was actually Clarence Nash, the voice of Donald Duck. The Walt Disney Company maintained that Nash never contributed to the song.
Despite it being a novelty, “Disco Duck” caught on. Dees even preformed the song on American Bandstand.
By September it had become a national hit. It eventually peaked at the No. 1 spot on Oct. 16, 1976, for one week. The song remained in the Top 10 for a total of 10 weeks.
In 1977, “Disco Duck” even made an appearance in the iconic disco film Saturday Night Fever in a scene in which a group of senior citizens were learning to dance disco.
According to Dees, however, he was unwisely advised by his then-manager to deny the song’s use on the movie’s soundtrack over fears it would compete with his own album.