It was the song that purred in America’s hearts and stuck in its ears like a foxtail. It was the anthem of a generation, and for one band of musical cats from the Valley, it was the ticket to a roller coaster of fame and fortune.
To honor the 40th anniversary of the Meow Mix® Song, we asked the cats who wrote and recorded the iconic tune to tell its tale.
SOCKS (Piano): “I was living in a condo off Sunset, just some sisal and a litter box, barely scraping by. Then I get a call from Buster McFluffers saying he has a song he wants me to write.”
BUSTER (Manager / Executive Producer): “Music was all synthesizers back then. I wanted something raw, something visceral that would make the kids go ‘me-ow!’ – and also sell cat food.”
OREO (Lead Vocals): “Socks and I had been writing music together since we were kittens. The chord structure came quick, but something was missing. So, we brought in Muffin.”
MUFFIN (Lyrics / Backing Vocals): “On the demo, the lyric was ‘meow, m-meow, meow, m-meow.’ I came up with the ‘meow, meow, meow, meow.’ Once we got that – ‘meow, meow, meow, meow’ – the groove really took off.”
SMOKEY (Producer): “I had just produced Heathcliff’s solo album. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to jump back in and produce something right away. Once I heard those ‘meow, meow, meow, meows,’ though, I knew these were the cats to work with.”
OREO: “The part near the end where you think it’s going to go ‘meow, meow, meow, meow’ but it goes ‘meow, meow, meow, m-m-meow’ – that was all improvised. It was all Smokey pushing us to new levels.”
PATCHES (Bass Guitar): “We were making magic, man. Magic! But it was hard work, too. Some of the studio sessions, we were only sleeping 19-20 hours a night. We knew we were onto something big.”
The Meow Mix® Song debuted at #1 and went quadruple platinum in one day, launching the band into the spotlight.
OREO: “There was a point where I couldn’t lick myself without someone asking for an autograph.”
TIGER (Drums): “Those were wild times, man. I remember partying all night with Nermal. I woke up in the morning next to a hairless. A hairless! I know that’s pretty common now, but back then…”
PATCHES: “Everybody remembers the Japan incident – we scratched the shit out of that hotel sofa!”
SOCKS: “Soon the record company was pressuring us for another hit. We tried ‘meow, meow, meow,’ and ‘meow, meow, meow, meow, meow,’ everything, but it sounded just – barf! Sorry for barfing… It sounded just not very good.”
MUFFIN: “Socks and Oreo started fighting more, squabbling over every ‘meow.’ Then Oreo got a look at the contracts.”
OREO: “A fish! I was getting a measly fish from every copy of my masterpiece. Meanwhile, the rest of the guys are making actual money. I told them, ‘Pay up, or I’m out.’”
SILKY (Back-up Vocals): “Eventually, people tired of the song. We got tired of it. You can only sing ‘meow, meow, meow, meow’ so many times before it all sounds like a bunch of meowing. There was a backlash.”
PATCHES: “Folks were burning our record, steamrolling them, eating 9Lives®. I was like, ‘You gotta buy our records to burn ‘em. What do I care? I’m over here in a patch of sunlight countin’ money, ha ha!’ But seriously, it hurt me deeply.”
TIGER: “After the fight at Live Aid, we parted ways. I went on a kind of spiritual journey. Muffin was in the pound for a while. I heard Socks lived with some lady and, like, 40 other cats. It wasn’t until Tubby died that we all got together again.”
In April of 1994, guitar-player Tubby choked to death on his own hairball in Paris.
PATCHES: “Too young, man. Only 4-years-old. We were devastated.”
TIGER: “After the funeral, we were all just hanging out in the alley. I think it was Oreo who got up and said what everybody was already thinking: ‘Meow, meow, meow, meow.’ We all laughed… and cried. We had had a great run. We’re a lucky bunch of cats.”
MUFFIN: “We never tried to be profound or poetic. We spoke from the heart, and that resonated. Everyone has their own, ‘meow, meow, meow, meow’ inside them.”
SOCKS: “Hate it or love it, the song had an effect on people. I remember in Budapest, a cat told me he had been contemplating suicide. He said he had the gun in his mouth, but he saw we were playing that night and found something to live for. It’s that story, and hundreds like it, that makes it all worthwhile. That’s why we do it. Not for the money or the fame, but to connect.
“That and all the pussy.”
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