Richard Elfman founded the theatrical troupe The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo. In 1978 the remnants of the Mystic Knights formed together under lead singer Danny Elfman as the band Oingo Boingo. The hyperkinetic ska-flavored New Wave band is characterized by their manic live performances and eclectic range of songs; Elfman and the band performed for a remarkable twenty years.
The band from Los Angeles, California, USA, a pared-down version of the theatrical troupe The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo, released eight major albums and two live compilations, each containing songs that varied from fast-paced ska to soulful jazz to emotional rock to off-kilter pop.
Starting in 1980, Oingo Boingo spent their first three albums establishing themselves as a band with quirky, bizarre, sarcastic, and anti-conformist vocals, lyrics, and instrumentation, among other things lambasting “normal” society and politics for their many hypocrisies and encouraging people to think for themselves. The band made a change toward a different sound when frontman Danny Elfman recorded So-lo in collaboration with the band and a new label, beginning a trio of “new wave”-ish albums containing ballads and songs about life and mortality, including the famous Dead Man’s Party. The band went on to record Dark at the End of the Tunnel, a change toward a sort of Boingo-esqe “spirituality”, and finally recorded their last album: dark, guitar-driven, hornless, influenced by Beatles and Pink Floyd, eponymous with the new band name Boingo.
Now mostly known for their frequent contribution to movie soundtracks (including their most successful song “Weird Science”), Oingo Boingo formally broke up in 1995 after their last Halloween live concert, the reason being that ‘it was time.’
Since the band’s dissolution, frontman Danny Elfman has continued to find success in his career writing film scores, particularly in collaboration with director Tim Burton; he almost exclusively employs Boingo guitarist Steve Bartek as orchestrator. His film scores have included Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, Batman, Edward Scissorhands, Good Will Hunting, Men in Black, Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man, Big Fish, and dozens more. Elfman also wrote the themes for more than a dozen TV series, including The Simpsons, Batman: The Animated Series, Desperate Housewives, Tales from the Crypt, and Sledge Hammer!