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» 1980s, Pop » Take Off – Bob and Doug McKenzie

Take Off – Bob and Doug McKenzie

In 1982, Rush was riding high (at least among Canadian bands). Moving Pictures had sold millions of records and Signals would soon reach stores and turn Rush into a one-hit wonder with their one and only top 40-charting song “New World Man.”

For a couple of Canadian comedians, there was no better better choice than to have fellow Canadian and Rush lead singer Geddy Lee sing on Bob and Doug McKenzie’s hit single, “Take Off.” A song that reached #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 in March 1982.

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We’re guessing that since you somehow found this page, you likely remember Bob and Doug McKenzie. But in case you don’t, the McKenzie brothers’ shtick started on the Canadian version of Saturday Night Live called SCTV. When it moved to CBS in 1982, the network asked Bob McKenzie (Rick Moranis who became famous for the Honey I Shrunk the Kids and Ghostbusers movies) and Doug McKenzie (Dave Thomas who became famous for, um, playing Doug McKenzie on SCTV) to riff on Canadian stereotypes. Amazingly, both Canadians and Americans found jokes about “hosers” and “tuques” funny.

Click to hear more TV show one-hit wonders

Bob and Doug broadcast from “The Great White North.” As a shock to everyone involved with the export of SCTV to America, “The Great White North” segment with Bob and Doug became the more popular segment on an otherwise marginally funny sketch comedy show. So popular, in fact, that the McKenzie brothers even starred in their own feature film, Strange Brew. I have fond memories of the movie but haven’t seen it for years so it could be awful for all I remember.

The McKenzie brothers even contributed their own catchphrase in “Take off.” Or “Take off you hoser.” Serious highbrow humor there. But there wasn’t a junior high boy in the early 1980s that didn’t tell his buddies to “take off” at least 65 times each day.

The catchphrase led to a single, which led to Geddy Lee singing:
Take off
To the Great White North
Take off
It’s a beauty way to go
Take off

And the rest is one-hit wonder history.

Listen to “Take Off” by Bob and Doug McKenzie

Take Off - Bob and Doug McKenzie

Buy “Take Off” by Bob and Doug McKenzie

Great White North - Bob & Doug McKenzie

Written by

I'm an obsessive music collector, cataloger, commenter and trivia nut. Sometimes I'm even a listener. One-hit wonders have always been a guilty pleasure.

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11 Responses to "Take Off – Bob and Doug McKenzie"

  1. […] Bob and Doug McKenzie (did you know Geddy went to school with Rick Moranis?) and helped get them a top 20 single in 1982 deserves their Great White North cake and […]

  2. John Charles says:

    Hello John Charles here with X Quisite Entertainment just wondering if you guys are still touring ? If so may possibly have a show for you at the River Cree Resort and Casino .
    If you are still touring please get back to us with your details please.

    John Charles
    X Quisite Entertainment
    8930-157st.
    Edmonton , Alberta ,
    Canada. T5R 2A7
    Ph/Fax:1-780-489-0589

  3. Michael Waterman says:

    John,

    Something tells me Bob and Doug McKenzie aren’t touring since about, oh, 1983 or so. :-)
    Michael

  4. PJ says:

    Rush are anything but a one hit wonder, geniuses. They have a bigger and more loyal fan base than ANY top forty band. Clearly you don’t know music.

  5. Michael Waterman says:

    PJ,

    Thanks for your comment. No one questions that Rush has a loyal fan base. I own most Rush albums myself. Yet they have only hit the Billboard Top 40 once in their long career. Same with the Grateful Dead. Same with Jimi Hendrix.

    Take a few more seconds to understand the context of this site before you make disparaging remarks. We know plenty about music, both popular and not popular. This site merely focuses on one-hit wonders and uses the Billboard Top 40 as a baseline.

    Cheers! Or should I say, Good day!
    Michael

  6. Mark says:

    In defense of PJ… Michael, you simply cannot be serious about this. Let’s step back and look at a few things. “Billboard” as it is now known is headquartered in New York with bureaus in Los Angeles and Miami. Clearly Billboard is an American company. Everyone should know by now how the American establishment has treated RUSH over the years.
    I will agree, the context of this site is focused on one-hit wonders. But, please don’t take RUSH out of context by suggesting that the band is a one-hit wonder. You should also consider the Juno awards from The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.
    1978 Group of the year
    1979 Group of the year
    1990 Artist of the Decade (80’s)
    1991 Best HardRock/Metal album – Presto
    1992 Hard Rock album of the year – Roll the Bones
    2004 Music DVD of the year – Rush in Rio
    2011 Music DVD of the year – Beyond The Lighted Stage
    And, just in case someone is thinking about it, the next post better not make reference to how RUSH finally got into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Also, an American institution. Nominating for the RRHOF this year was opened up to the public vote and that speaks volumes for the thousands of loyal fans who were the people responsible for “nominating” RUSH, not the Establishment.
    –Mark

  7. Michael Waterman says:

    Mark,

    Thanks for your well-reasoned and thoughtful comment. One of the challenges of this site was coming up with a way to approach the “one-hit wonder label.” There are bands that sell millions of records in one country that never even make a dent in another. Take The Smiths, for instance. In England, they are revered as one of the greatest bands ever. Their four regular studio albums reached #2, #1, #2 and #2 in the UK. Yet their highest-charting album entry in the United States reached only #55. The Smiths also placed 18 singles in the British Top 40. Yet they never placed a single song in the Billboard Hot 100.

    You could argue that “How Soon Is Now” by The Smiths is their “biggest” hit in the United States, but it only reached #36 on the US Dance charts.

    Are The Smiths a one-hit wonder? By Billboard Top 40 standards, no…because they never even hit the Top 40. In England, NO CHANCE! The guys are legends. Just like Rush. Or look up the chart success of The Jam in the UK versus the United States.

    This site celebrates bands and artists who hit the Billboard Top 40 one time in a career. A tremendous feat that requires talent, persistence, and, in some cases, dumb luck. Top One-Hit Wonders is NOT trying to denigrate artists or degrade their success by calling them a one-hit wonder.

    Read “What’s a One-Hit Wonder” for more details on my view.

    I truly am a Rush fan. I listened to “All the World’s a Stage” and “Hold Your Fire” this week. They have my respect and I can tell you’re a huge fan.

    I hope this answer helps clarify my perspective. Please keep reading and commenting. I always appreciate hearing from passionate fans who contribute to the conversation.
    Michael

  8. […] The song reached #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 in March 1982. The success was most likely due to the popularity of the Bob and Doug McKenzie sketch, which was featured on Second City Television (SCTV), a Canadian sketch comedy show similar to Saturday Night Live. The song is famously known as a “one hit wonder.” (source) […]

  9. Andrew Bruce McDonald says:

    I am a huge Rush fan and have been since I was a kid. I am American and all y friends were huge Rush fans. When my oldest son, now 15, turned 10 he was diagnosed with Juvenile Diabetes. This was a great shock. After a week at the hospital he was released he and I went straight from Children’s Hospital to the Time Pieces Rush concert. It was his first concert, it was about my fifth or sixth time seeing Rush live. The most of any band for me. Now both my boys are huge Rush fans (as well as the Who, Zeppelin, Hendrx and the Beatles).

    I think we all need to keep in mind that there is a fundamental difference between a pop band and an album oriented traditional or alternative rock band. No one in their right mind would argue that the Zeppelin was not a HUGE mega band that sold zillions of records and changed the music industry. But, they made and sold albums. Their format was not conducive to singles, and their style was not pop top-40. The same could be said for Rush. It was never the goal of either band to make pop singles. With their type of music popular success just isn’t measured by hit singles. It is an apples and oranges thing.

    That said, I didn’t take anything in a negative way in the commentary on Rush here. I didn’t even see this as being about Rush. The “one hit wonder” is the MacKenzie Brother “Take off” song on which Geddy Lee appeared with his easy going charm and powerful voice. It was all in fun. Moreover, that is how I viewed the couple sentences that identified Rush as “becoming a one-hit wonder” with “New World Man”. It’s all tongue in cheek. They have a huge list of giant hit songs… They just aren’t top-40 hits. Who cares!? They’re awesome and I think Geddy, Alex and Neil would chuckle at the one-hit wonder reference.

  10. Michael Waterman says:

    Andrew, thanks for your thoughtful and passionate comment. You’re obviously a huge Rush fan. So am I since I first heard Permanent Waves back in 1980. Glad your kids enjoy the music and thanks for visiting this site. Cheers!
    Michael

  11. Krystuffer says:

    why does everyone wanna make rocket science out of this? the difference between hits and – not sure if it’s the right word, but it’s the only one i can think of – anthems is as easy to explain and/or understand as anything could be.
    simply put, hits are officially tabulated and On The Record, whereas simply being heard is enough to make the right song an anthem. because it’s a matter of bureaucratic record, it’s actually much harder to become a hit than an anthem.
    so a song can become an anthem without being a hit per se. you’d be surprised how many you know. neither “Stairway To Heaven” nor anything from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was even released as a single, for instance.
    does everybody get it now?

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