The 80’s was a golden age of compilation albums. Record companies nobody had ever heard of were buying up cheap ad time on daytime and late night TV to hawk the greatest hits of the Fabulous 50’s, the Groovy 60’s or the Strung out 70’s. Want to spend a quiet evening of anarchy indulging in the most romantic hits of the early punk era? There was a compilation album for that.
The television ad album craze even sometimes managed to sweep up the occasional weird niche artist who would go from somebody known only to their immediate family to a major pop culture icon before you could even listen to the “21 more songs” that the commercial didn’t have time to list in their scroll. Such a man is Gheorghe Zamfir…
During the late 80’s and early 90’s, Zamfir was brought to our television screens and built up as one of the greatest musicians to ever walk the earth. The commercial starts out by bragging that Zamfir has sold over 20 million records, and has had 30 gold and platinum albums! As you listen to the melody he is playing from the elevator to Hell, you might be wondering to yourself whether Zamfir’s family bought all those records themselves just to make him feel good about himself. Ah, that incredible statement is prefaced by “In Europe…”, where shitty music still reigns supreme. Over there, they’ll even buy polka records that were not made by Weird Al Yankovic.
Zamfir is dubbed in this ad as “The Master of The Pan Flute.” Zamfir earned this lofty title by being the only person in the world to ever even play the fucking pan flute. How in the world does one take up an instrument nobody has ever heard of before, anyway? Did he try out for the junior high band and all of the instruments were already taken, so he ripped off part of the radiator and started blowing in it? Was it the world’s worst Christmas gift from his Aunt Helga? Regardless of how Zamfir and the pan flute were first introduced, it turned out to be a match made in pussified music heaven!
Of course, the admen behind this commercial knew America wasn’t ready for a pan flautist, so they had to take the time to make the mystery instrument look even cooler than an electric guitar. It’s proclaimed to be “a magical instrument with an enchanting sound that is unforgettable! So hauntingly beautiful, it’s unlike anything you’ve heard before!” You know what other magical thing has an enchanting sound that is unforgettable and unlike anything you have heard before? An orgasm. And nobody’s going to be having one so long as some hippie is playing the damn pan flute!
Listen, as The Master of The Pan Flute rips off a hauntingly unforgettable version of the theme from “Chariots of Fire”…
Zamfir doesn’t just tackle movie themes… no fewer than three light rock hits can be found in the scroll of hideous pan flute songs on this exclusive TV album. Elton John’s already horrific “Your Song”, Billy Joel’s “Just The Way You Are”, and even The Beatles’ “Yesterday” are not immune from being covered by The Master of The Pan Flute. Now I know what to give Merby for her birthday…
Want to enjoy listening to some killer pan flute music on the best of retro technology? Well, you’re in luck! The Magic of Zamfir is available on vinyl, cassette, or 8 track! Yes, they released this album on 8 track over a decade after the last 8 track player had been thrown out with the Pet Rock!
Thanks to this one ingeniously ridiculous and frequently repalyed ad, Zamfir is still known today not only as The Master of the Pan Flute, but as the personification of Shitty Music that needs to be mocked. Americans generally don’t buy albums full of pan flute music to voluntarily play on their home stereo. Listening to Zamfir around the house would drive your dog up the wall and force your cat to bite you. I guess, though, it is better to be well known and ridiculed than to be a nobody all of your life.
Did you know that Zamfir’s pan flute can be heard on the soundtrack to The Karate Kid? It’s true, according to his Wiki page! He also got his first big break in 1972 from a composer named Vladimir Cosma… who is best known by the classic Nickelodeon generation as being the man behind all of the music on cult classic cartoon “Spartakus and The Sun Beneath The Sea”! Thank God there at least wasn’t any pan fluting going on in that cartoon….
They say music tames the savage breast, and nothing can possible be more savage than a big boob playing the pan flute. The Nest would like to salute Romanian idol Zamfir and the soulless recording entity that brought him into our living rooms across the United States and seared his magically unforgettable music into our brains over 25 years ago. You have provided us all with the inspiration to become the master of something totally obscure that has absolutely no practical musical use other than to loosen earwax. I am dusting off my kazoo as I speak, and maybe 10 years from now with a little practice and the help of some ad saturation, I will be known throughout the world as Evil Squirrel, The King of the Kazoo!
The title of this made me think of something completely unrelated. Did you know you can buy boxes of dirt on ebay and pan for gold in the comfort of your home?
I am somehow being convinced to watch the EuroVision contests this year and am desperately hoping that a pan flute makes an appearance now.
Wow! What a racket that must be! I can fill boxes full of dirt from my yard and get rich!
I’m sure Zamfir inspired a whole new generation of pan flautists, so I’d say the odds are pretty…… nah, nobody still plays the pan flute!
That freaking commercial wanted me to volunteer to take a pan pan to the head, ESN. Zamfir every channel you clicked at 1 a.m.
No let’s bring up the “Hooked on” album series, where they took all the hits of a genre and set them to the same cheap synthesizer drum beat. Hooked on Classics, Beethoven’s fifth to they cheesy beat. Hooked on Pops, Hooked on Rock, Hooked on Pan Flute. No, they never got to that last one, thank God.
Yes, and as soon as Zamfir finally used up his 15 hours of late night fame, Esteban the herring bone guitarist took over!
I’d never heard of the Hooked on series before, but cheap synthesizer drum beats you say? The 80’s music lover in me just cracked a huge smile!
Found a YouTube link for Hooked on Classics for you, ESN.
Wow! I never thought the classics could sound so good!
Lol @ force your cat to bite you. I’ve never heard this before now and all i can say to my eardrums is, “I’m so sorry!”
Today, it would probably make it to the As Seen on TV aisle!
Yeah, right between the Pajama Jeans and dog Snuggies…..
And right below the flobees.
I’ve never heard of him!
What’s that line about “Europe, where shitty music still reigns supreme”? I take offence. European music is awesome! Except when it’s by Europeans outside the UK. Then it’s shitty.
I was referring more to the part of Europe where Zamfir broke in his pan flute. I have yet to know of one musician from Romania that I care for…
HeeHee. I think he has cloven boots.
He probably does… and he sounds like a goat!
Goatacus takes offense at that and says saying he sounds like a goat is insulting to goats everywhere. Oh look, Goatacus just stomped off in a huff … 😉
What I really want for my birthday is this…..
Why did I click that link? Now I need some of these …
I had never seen that PSA before! If it weren’t from the 80’s, I’d swear that was singing Viagra pills!
I’ve noticed a lot of people didn’t get the reference whenever I’d mention it, posting the video I saw it said Long Island poison control center on it. I wonder if it just ran on LI networks. It was my favorite PSA lol
I had thought of throwing a Yanni joke in there somewhere and never did!
That’s what I’m here for, to remind you!
Oh, man, I remember that dufus! He made the careers of comedians everywhere. They should thank the little freak with his radiator pipes (lol!).
Yep… Zamfir became the go-to guy when someone was needed a zany, shitty music maker! You had to be really special to be virally mocked back in the pre-internet days….