Puneet Varma (Editor)

Disco Inferno

Updated on
Share on FacebookTweet on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Reddit
December 28, 1976

Disco funk

7" 12"

"You Touch My Hot Line"

1976; Sigma Sound Studios (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

10:54 (album version) 3:35 (radio edit)

"Disco Inferno" is a song by American disco band The Trammps from their 1976 fourth studio album of the same name. With two other cuts by the group it reached number-one on the US Billboard Dance Club Songs chart in early 1977, but had limited mainstream success until 1978, after being included on the soundtrack to the 1977 film Saturday Night Fever, when a re-release hit number eleven on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.


It was also notably covered in 1993 by American-born singer Tina Turner on the What's Love Got to Do with It soundtrack, and in 1999 by American singer-songwriter Cyndi Lauper on the A Night at the Roxbury soundtrack.

Song information

The song was originally recorded by The Trammps in 1976 and released as a single. It was inspired by a scene in the 1974 blockbuster film The Towering Inferno in which a discotheque is caught in the blaze. According to Tom Moulton, who mixed the record, the Dolby noise reduction had been set incorrectly during the mixdown of the tracks. When engineer Jay Mark discovered the error and corrected it, the mix had a much wider dynamic range than was common at the time. Due to this, the record seems to "jump out" at the listener. With "Starvin'" and "Body Contact Contract", it topped the U.S. Disco chart for six weeks in the late winter of 1977. On the other U.S. charts, "Disco Inferno" hit number nine on the Black Singles chart, but it was not initially a significant success at pop radio, peaking at number 53 on the Billboard Hot 100.

"Disco Inferno" gained much greater recognition when the 10:54-minute album version was included on the soundtrack to the 1977 film Saturday Night Fever. Re-released by Atlantic Records, the track peaked at number 11 in the U.S. during the spring of 1978, becoming The Trammps' biggest and most-recognized single. Later, it was included in the Saturday Night Fever musical, interpreted by 'DJ Monty' in the "Odissey 2001" discothèque.

On September 19, 2005, "Disco Inferno" was inducted into the Dance Music Hall of Fame.


The Trammps
  • Jimmy Ellis – lead vocal
  • Robert Upchurch – lead and baritone vocal
  • Earl Young – bass vocal
  • Harold Wade – first tenor
  • Stanley Wade – second tenor
  • Additional Personnel
  • Ronald Baker – bass guitar
  • Earl Young – drums
  • Norman Harris, Bobby Eli, T.J. Tindall – guitars
  • T.G. Conway – keyboards
  • Don Renaldo and His Strings and Horns
  • Tina Turner version

    Tina Turner covered the song in 1993 for the What's Love Got to Do with It soundtrack and it charted at number twelve in the UK Singles Chart. The single included remixes by The Beatmasters.

    Formats and track listings

    UK CD single

    1. "Disco Inferno" (album version) – 4:03
    2. "I Don't Wanna Fight" (single edit) – 4:25

    UK 12-inch single

    1. "Disco Inferno" (12-inch version) – 5:33
    2. "Disco Inferno" (12-inch dub) – 6:57
    3. "Disco Inferno" (album version) – 4:03

    UK CD single

    1. "Disco Inferno" (album version) – 4:03
    2. "I Don't Wanna Fight" (single edit) – 4:25
    3. "Disco Inferno" (12-inch version) – 5:33
    4. "Disco Inferno" (12-inch dub) – 6:57

    Cyndi Lauper version

    Cyndi Lauper performed this song live for the first time at New York, Bryant Park on June 21, 1998.

    In the Billboard magazine dated May 16, 1998 in the "Dance Trax" column, there was a story on remixers Bobby Guy and Ernie Lake, aka Soul Solution: "They are working with Cyn on a chest-pounding rendition of 'Disco Inferno'. The cut will be featured on the forthcoming soundtrack to A Night At Roxbury."

    Although the original release date of the maxi single was August 3, 1999, it was distributed from July 24 in some regions. The single was officially released in the U.S. in August 1999. Lauper performed it at many shows, including her Summer Tour '99, around the time of its release.

    1. Boris & Beck Roxy Edit Dub
    2. Boris & Beck Roxy Dub
    3. Club Mix
    4. Rescue Me Mix
    5. Soul Solution A Capella
    6. Soul Solution Drumapella
    7. Soul Solution Mix
    8. Soul Solution Radio Edit

    Other cover versions

  • Players Association covered the song as a single release in 1977.
  • Age of Chance performed a fast and noisy version on their 1986 mini-album Beneath the Pavements the Dancefloor/Crush Collision.
  • Dread Zeppelin covered the song on their 1992 album, It's Not Unusual.
  • The Bobs covered the song on their 1994 album, Cover the Songs Of.
  • Australian singer Marcia Hines covered "Disco Inferno" on her 2006 album, Discothèque.
  • System of a Down are sometimes using their version of "Disco Inferno" as a live intro for their song "Psycho".
  • Peter and the Test Tube Babies covered the song on their 2012 covers album Piss Ups.
  • Sampling

  • Fast Eddie sampled "Disco Inferno" on his 1998 single "I Want You, Girl".
  • In August 1998 UK dance act Baby Bumps released their song "Burning", essentially a modern remake of "Disco Inferno" which covers that song's intro riff and chorus looped over a modern house beat, although the recorded vocals were much more in the style of Tina Turner's version. It reached No. 17 on the UK Top 40.
  • Punk icon John Otway and Steps songwriter Barry Upton used the song as the backing for John's 2nd Top Ten 2002 hit "Bunsen Burner".
  • Madonna performed her vocals from "Music" over an instrumental version of this song on her 2006 Confessions Tour creating the mash-up "Music Inferno".
  • Film

  • In 1996, "Disco Inferno" was included on the soundtrack to the cult comedy film Kingpin and featured in two pivotal scenes in which Roy Munson (played by Woody Harrelson) confidently strolls into a bowling alley.
  • The song was used in the trailer to the Adam Sandler comedy Bedtime Stories.
  • In the Shrek 2 animated short Far, Far, Away Idol, Donkey (Eddie Murphy) is shown singing "Disco Inferno", but has his rear set on fire as Dragon performs with him.
  • The recording by The Trammps was played in the 1997 film Donnie Brasco, 2004 film What the Bleep Do We Know!?, and in the 2011 film Hop.
  • "Night Fever" (another song from Saturday Night Fever movie soundtrack, performed by the Bee Gees) and "Disco Inferno" appeared and were included in the soundtrack of the 1999 movie Mystery Men.
  • The Trammps' version is danced to by Mari and Sadie in the film Little Voice as a celebration, in Mari's living room.
  • The Trammps' version is heard in the background of a scene in the movie Ghostbusters. In 2006, the extended version was featured on a remastered version of the Ghostbusters soundtrack.
  • The Trammps' version is heard in a scene in the movie Talk Radio.
  • The song is featured in the film Hobo with a Shotgun while the film's villains fire a flamethrower upon a school bus full of children.
  • TV

  • The song was hummed by character David Brent during his infamous dance in the TV series The Office.
  • In The Simpsons, season 13, ep. 10, "Half-Decent Proposal", The Trammps' version was featured in a reenactment of Marge's prom during the 1970s.
  • The song was performed by Mercedes Jones (Amber Riley) in the 2012 Glee episode "Saturday Night Glee-ver".
  • In the TV series Everybody Loves Raymond, The Trammps' version played on the stereo while Raymond and Robert did a photoshoot in Raymond's basement.
  • The lyrics are read out by fire safety officer Keith Lard in the first series of Phoenix Nights, thinking they describe a real incident.
  • The Trammps' version is heard on series 4, episode 4 of the British teen drama Skins and also on Season 3, Episode 2 of Scandal.
  • Appears in the fourth episode of the Italian crime series Romanzo Criminale.
  • Video games

  • A version of the song recorded by The Earl Young Band was included in the video games Dungeon Keeper 2 and Bulletstorm.
  • The Trammps' version was featured in a mashup mix in DJ Hero, alongside Rihanna's "Disturbia".
  • The Trammps' version appeared on the Grand Theft Auto IV expansion pack The Ballad of Gay Tony.
  • The Trammps' version appeared on the video game Dance Central 3 represented by Miss Aubrey (Lu$h Crew).
  • The first piece of downloadable content for the Dante's Inferno videogame, entitled Dark Forest, includes an additional "Disco Inferno" costume, a novelty piece in the style of polyester disco fashion wear inspired by The Trammps's song.
  • Sports

  • The song also became an unofficial theme song for former New York Yankees outfielder Bernie Williams. It was often played at old Yankee Stadium while the scoreboard and video systems displayed the phrase "Bern Baby Bern", a play on the song's refrain and Williams' first name.
  • References

    Disco Inferno Wikipedia