Before the phrase “Baba Booey” took over newscasts and golf courses, Gary Dell’Abate’s nickname first brought joy to the ears of listeners everywhere in the form of music. You may not remember that on the very day Howard anointed his executive producer as Baba Booey, he also created the very first Baba Booey song.
It all began on July 26, 1990 with a slip of the tongue as Gary discussed a "Quick Draw McGraw" animation cel he was contemplating buying. Instead of pronouncing the character’s name correctly as “Baba Looey,” he instead said “Baba Booey.”
Scott “the Engineer” Salem remembers springing into action to isolate the sound clip, which was not so easy to do back then. “It took a lot to actually get something back on the air because the show was being recorded on cassette … And the cassette had to be stopped,” he explains. “Then it had to be dubbed to quarter-inch tape, then it had to be edited, then it had to be copied to a cart which we used, so it was a process. And I just remember like, ‘I gotta get this done as quickly as possible because this will live forever.’ I mean, it was just that great.”
Once Howard got a hold of the clip, he made quick work of it on the air. “I think I can do something with that ‘Baba Booey,’” he told Fred.
As the sounds of Manu Dibango’s iconic 1972 hit “Soul Makossa” played over the airwaves, Howard sprinkled in “Baba Booeys” to the beat of the song. “We can remake this song with ‘Baba Booey,’” he said in an epiphany.
Little did the Stern Show staff know that more than 25 years later, that moment would spawn thousands more “Baba Booey” parody songs ranging from “Boohemian Rhapsody” to “Booey’s Delight.”
Listen below as Jon Leiberman investigates the story in an episode of “Stern Files Declassified.”