"The Doctor is IN!"
The Dr. Demento Show is radio's weekly two-hour festival of "mad music
and crazy comedy" heard on stations coast to coast. It is a free-wheeling,
unpredictable mix of music and comedy. Along with legends like Spike Jones,
Tom Lehrer, Stan Freberg, Monty Python, and Frank Zappa, the Doctor plays
new funny songs sent in by amateur and professional singers and comedians.
That's how the world was introduced to "Weird Al" Yankovic, who went on
to become rock music's best-known funny person. A home-made tape that Al
made at age 16 and sent to the Doctor provided him with his very first
Those who've listened carefully to the Doctor's show have undoubtedly
realized that somewhere between his lively larynx and elegant top hat there
resides the mind of a seasoned musicologist and dedicated scholar...a world-renowned
record collector and music historian, whose lifelong passion for music
of all kinds is reflected in his weekly selection of "rare records and
outrageous tapes" for the Dr. Demento Show.
Dr. Demento was born Barret Hansen in Minneapolis in 1941. His father
was a talented amateur pianist, and Barret began taking piano lessons at
age 6, but the family phonograph always interested him more. When he found,
at age 12, that a local thrift shop had thousands of old 78 rpm discs for
sale at 5¢ each, the Demento Archives were on their way.
Though Spike Jones was an early special favorite, the Doctor-to-be wasn't
always a comedy specialist. As rock & roll swept America in the 1950s,
he developed a special fondness for the music's roots in R&B and country.
Over the years he's done quite a bit of writing in that area, including
numerous magazine articles, liner notes and two chapters on early R&B
for The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll.
His first DJ work was at his high school's "sock hops" in 1957. At Reed
College in Portland, Oregon he became student manager of the campus FM
station before graduating as a (classical) music major. At UCLA he indulged
his passion for the roots of rock by writing a master's thesis on the evolution
of R&B in the 1940s and early 1950s, while making his L.A. radio debut
with a program of pre-WWII blues and country on non-commercial station
After getting a taste of the contemporary rock & roll life with
brief stints as a roadie for two popular L. A. rock groups, Canned Heat
and Spirit (and producing a demo for the latter), he went to work for Specialty
Records, compiling some 35 reissue albums for that legendary R&B label
and also producing new recordings.
It was while he was working for Specialty that L. A.'s legendary
free-form rock radio station KPPC-FM asked him to do a weekly program of
rock rarities. It was there, in 1970, that Barret Hansen became Dr. Demento,
as listeners demanded more and more of such zany blasts from the past as
"The Purple People Eater," "Transfusion" and "The Monster Mash."
The Dr. Demento Show moved to KMET-FM in 1972 and soon became the most
listened-to Sunday evening radio program in Los Angeles. His spectacular
ratings were soon duplicated in many other cities as the show went into
syndication in 1974. The show is currently distributed by Talonian Productions.
The first Dr. Demento compilation LP was released in 1976 by Warner
Bros. followed by a dozen more, primarily for Rhino which has also released
a Dr. Demento home video. In addition, the Doctor's fan club, The Demento
Society, has produced three CD's available exclusively to Society members.
In 1991 an hour-long Dr. Demento Anniversary Special was shown by cable's
Comedy Central, featuring live performances by "Weird Al" Yankovic, Bobby
(Boris) Pickett ("Monster Mash,") Sheb Wooley ("The Purple People Eater,")
Tiny Tim and many others. The Doctor's numerous TV credits also include
two April Fool's specials for MTV, and voices for 1994 episodes of The
Simpsons and Bobby's World.
In 1988, Dr. Demento provided off-screen narration for a feature film,
the horror movie spoof Lobster Man from Mars.
When not on the air, the Doctor also keeps busy doing research projects
(many for Rhino Records), making personal appearances, and keeping up the
Archives. Among those who've commissioned him to provide rarities from
the collection are Rhino Records, Time-Life Records, MCA Records and Columbia
Records, plus Aerosmith, Randy Newman, Bette Midler, Ry Cooder and David
The Doctor resides near Los Angeles with his wife Sue.
For a list of Dr. Demento's credits - Click Here!
MEET THE DR IN PERSON - If you would like Dr. Demento to appear at your next event Click Here.
Webmasters click here if you would like to link to DrDemento.com.