Meri Wilson was an unknown model and jingle singer when, in 1977, she met music producer Boomer Castleman, who signed her to his BNA label to record a novelty song she’d written. Telephone Man was an innuendo-laden tale of a woman getting a phone fitted by the emponymous telephone man, resulting in her getting it in the bathroom, the hall and the bedroom – what ‘it’ was was left to your imagination.
While you would imagine a song like this would simply be too rude in implication to get airplay today, back in 1977 the song was given regular rotation in both the US and UK. In Britain, it reached number 6 on the charts, while in America it rose to number 18 and eventually sold a million copies.
Heard today, the song is as amusing for the references to long-dead ideas like fixed line, corded phones as for the sexuial innuendo. And it’s still a very cute record, enhanced by Wilson’s breathy, sexy giggles – there’s not much ambiguity to what she is actually talking about if you listen to herperformance, and it’s not having multiple phone sockets sitted.
Like many a novelty act, Wilson was a one-hit wonder, despite recording several other innuedo-laden numbers (Peter the Meter Reader, Dick the DJ) and Internet Man, an updated version of her one hit in 1999. She died in a car crash in 2002, aged 53.