How the ‘Fast Times at Ridgemont High’ Soundtrack Began in the ’80s

Fast Times at Ridgemont High considered one of the greatest films of the 80s. This is largely due to a soundtrack mixed by newer bands (the Go-Go’sThe Ravyns, Oingo Boingo, Quarterflash) and superstars (Stevie NicksDonna Summer, Jackson Browneseveral members of Eagles).

The musical accompaniment was originally supposed to be aimed at ’70s rockers — but director Amy Heckerling disagreed with the direction, according to a 2012 IndieWire retrospective piece.

“When I was young like I was at the time, I really wanted a new edgy ’80s music soundtrack,” she says in the book Break in. “I wanted fear, Oingo Boingo, the Go-Gos, the one Talking Heads, and the Dead Kennedys. I was one of those obnoxious teenagers who thought the music I liked was great and everything else was lousy.”

In particular, Heckerling noted that successfully requesting Oingo Boingo’s “Goodbye Goodbye” to be in the film “was a big struggle. But I had to make some compromises and put in some songs that I didn’t like at all. ” Still, the mix of current and seasoned artists worked, especially because it reflected the musical shifts that occurred in the early 80s as classic rockers tried to figure out where they fit into the burgeoning new wave scene.

Music was also a constant presence for the characters Fast Times at Ridgemont Highwith non-soundtrack songs such as Cars“Moving in Stereo,” Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ “American Girl” and “We Got the Beat” by the Go-Gos, serving as backdrops to notable moments in their lives and livelihoods.

Slick Mike Damone is trying to make a quick buck (or 10 or 20) scalping concert tickets. Early in the film, two kids approach him and ask, “You guy Van Halen tickets?” Damone is offering two seats in the first 10 rows for $20 a pop, even though they were originally $12.50. “All the other scalpers are sold out,” mutters a buyer, annoying Damone. “Did you call me a scalper? ” he replies. “I’m performing a service here, and the service costs money.”

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Van Halen was not involved Fast Times soundtrack, although future singer Sammy Hagar contributed the title track. Longtime Van Halen manager Irving Azoff co-produced the film with Art Linson, and also executive produced the film’s soundtrack and co-compiled the songs. (Azoff’s then-Front Line Management partner Howard Kaufman, who died in January 2017, also had a hand in compiling the tunes, as did the late music manager/producer/musician Bob Destocki.)

Unsurprisingly, the soundtrack leans heavily on AOR, highlighted by Ravyns’ “Raised on the Radio,” Quarterflash’s “Don’t Be Lonely” and Billy Squier’s “Fast Times (The Best Years of Our Lives).” The music of several Azoff management clients appeared both in the film and on the double-LP soundtrack.

Eagles members Don Henley, Joe Walsh, Timothy B. Schmitt and Don Felder has featured solo songs while a prom band performs Eagles favorite “Life in the Fast Lane.” Stevie Nicks’ “Sleeping Angel,” as well Jimmy Buffett“I Don’t Know (Spicoli’s Theme)” also appears.

The Fast Times at Ridgemont High The soundtrack is also notorious for the songs that could have been included but weren’t. Screenwriter Cameron Crowe submitted original film production notes who promised that “among the artists who will write and perform original songs for the film”. Ringo Starr, Michael McDonald and Bob Segera trio of heavy hitters who ultimately did not participate.

In another what-could-have-been moment, Todd Rundgren recorded a song called “Attitude” for the film, but it was not used. Heart also wrote a song called “Fast Times” which did not make the soundtrack but appeared on their 1982 LP Private audition. This omission in particular struck people as odd, as Heart guitarist/co-founder Nancy Wilson were dating Cameron Crowe at the time.

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The label competition reportedly got in the way, according to Los Angeles Times. Heart was signed to CBS Records, and the Fast Times The soundtrack was to the then competitor Elektra-Asylum. As a result, president Walter Yetnikoff blocked CBS acts like Heart, Nick Lowe and Gary Myrick from the soundtrack.

“The way I heard it was that CBS had been on the bad end of some previous soundtrack deals, esp Urban Cowboy and Heavy metaland Yetnikoff wanted no part of this,” Crowe shared Times, while adding that the “tensions between” Yetnikoff and Irving Azoff were “just too great.” (As it happens, Azoff also produced boats Urban Cowboy and Heavy metal soundtrack.)

Azoff refuted Crowe’s theory via a spokesperson, who told the newspaper that the lack of CBS artists on the soundtrack was because “we could not negotiate the video rights to the songs in a satisfactory manner.” Yetnikoff confirmed that Azoff’s comment was part of the reason, but didn’t mince words with his own response to the situation in Los Angeles Times history.

“The financial compensation to CBS and our artists is so small when you make a deal with Azoff that it doesn’t make sense to do it,” he said. “And I haven’t been happy with the accounting that we’ve gotten on our artists that have been involved in previous Azoff soundtrack projects. As far as I’m concerned, he can just find his artists elsewhere.”

Fast Times at Ridgemont High earned just $27 million at the box office. The soundtrack stalled at No. 54 on Billboard album chart, while Timothy B. Schmit’s cover of Tymes’ “So Much in Love” reached a modest No. 59. But the LP also spawned a massive hit in Jackson Browne’s “Somebody’s Baby,” which reached No. 7 on the Hot 100 .

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