Capitol Alert

Deukmejian's strangest legacy: A 1987 pop song parody

George Deukmejian parodied in 1987 pop song

“Walk Like a Deukmejian” debuted on Los Angeles DJ Dr. Demento’s radio show in 1987.
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“Walk Like a Deukmejian” debuted on Los Angeles DJ Dr. Demento’s radio show in 1987.

Since former California Gov. George Deukmejian died a week ago at age 89, the "Iron Duke" has inspired reflections on everything from his tough-on-crime approach that reshaped the state's justice system to his quiet, friendly manner.

The public will be able to pay their respects next month when the Deukmejian family holds a memorial for the two-term Republican, June 9 at 1 p.m. at the Terrace Theater in Long Beach, his longtime home.

But don't forget (and how could you?) his quirkier legacy as the inspiration for a minor 1987 parody hit called "Walk Like a Deukmejian," based on The Bangles' #1 single "Walk Like an Egyptian."

The song, which debuted on Los Angeles DJ Dr. Demento's show and received some airplay across the state that spring, recounted Deukmejian's recent reelection and successful campaign to oust Chief Justice Rose Bird and two other members of the California Supreme Court.

Then there's Tom Bradley every four years, Willie Brown and Mayor Di

They don't get Duke down, he's laughing and here's the reason why:

The entire California Supreme Court says...

Walk like a Deukmejian

"I chose the song because the title was too obvious," said its singer, "Loose Bruce" Kerr, now a 70-year-old lawyer in Rocklin who still records new material on the side.

Kerr said the track was one of the highlights of his two-decade career as a performer based out of the San Francisco Bay Area, launching him on a reinvention as a parody artist that ultimately led to opening for "Weird Al" Yankovic at the Warfield Theatre.

A self-described "lifelong liberal Democrat," Kerr nonetheless kept his Deukmejian musings fairly neutral and even sent the governor a copy of the record. It included a B-side about a condom commercial from the era and was packaged with an actual condom in the case. Kerr, perhaps, unsurprisingly never heard back.

He did hear, however, from the publisher of "Walk Like an Egyptian," who Kerr said demanded $50 and the rights to his parody if he was going to keep performing it.

Because of that experience, he eventually joined a lawsuit, led by 2 Live Crew, over the rights of parody artists. In 1995, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in his favor, determining that a commercial parody can qualify as fair use and does not need the permission of the original artist.

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