Monday, September 19, 2011

Word Up! Remember Cameo?

Word Up! I will forever remember the red cup on the Cameo dude's privates!
Today we have a guest post from my high school buddy, Dmitry who blogs over at He had an odd run-in with a member of Cameo back in the late '90s and was kind enough to share it here at Whenever I think of Cameo or their song "Word Up!" only one thing comes to mind - the red jockstrap or protective cup the lead singer wears in the video. Researching, I just discovered that thing is called a "codpiece." 

Back in 1997, the tech boom was starting, and everyone was getting into IT. At the time, I was working for McCall Consulting Group, and was a consultant (that's means "code monkey") to SQL Financials (an SMB ERP vendor, in case anyone cares). I lived in Atlanta, in the
Ashford-Dunwoody area (before it got all crazy with the MARTA station), working nearby at Ravinia. There was a pretty large Border's that I would go to, have some coffee and check out the latest computer books. At the time, those books seemed to be published more frequently than newspapers, and weren't any good unless they had at least 500 pages.

Cameo had a one-hit wonder with WORD UP! 

I'm in the sprawling 'Computer Books' section, checking out some 1200 page tome that had been release about Oracle 8i. And there's a tall, black guy next to me, checking out the same section. Out of nowhere, this skinny guy with glasses, looks in our direction and starts yelling, "Oh, my God! I can't believe it! This is unbelievable!" from main aisle. We look at him, and he continues with, "I'll be right back! Don't go anywhere!" I looked at the guy next to me, as I'm
pretty certain he wasn't excited about seeing me.

He runs back to us, thrusts a pencil and napkin into the tall guy's hands and says, "Let me get your autograph! No one is going to believe this is unreal! Let me shake your hand! This is awesome. No one's going to believe this! Let me meet you again!" The guy signs the napkin, thanks him for being a fan, shakes his hand a couple of times and eventually the guy runs off. This is before cell phones with cameras, so autographs were all you got back then.

Now I'm left in the Database section, looking at this guy next to me, realizing he's some sort of celebrity, but not having a clue who he is. And the conversation went something like this:

Me: I take it you're famous. Who are you?
Guy: Yep. I'm a musician in a band.
Me: Oh. Ok. What band?
Guy: I'm the bass player for Cameo.
Me: Really? You mean, "Word up?"
Guy: Yes, yes. Word Up. That Cameo.
Me: Cool. So . . . what are you doing here?
Guy: Well, we still play gigs here and there, but I can't go shaking my ass on stage when I'm 40 or 50. And a buddy of mine said there's good money in being a database administrator. And I thought I'd get a certification.
Me: Oh. Ok. Well  ... good luck with that.

We chatted a bit longer, and I handed him my card, as it would have been cool to refer the bass player for Cameo for a job, but nothing ever came of it.  I just did some searches, and can't find any reference to Aaron Mills (Cameo's bass player during their heyday) being an Oracle DBA, so I don't think he ever did anything in IT, but it makes for a cool story.

There you go ... Word Up!


Ms. A said...

I definitely remember the song. Cameo, not so much.

LL Cool Joe said...

I remember the band, the song and the codpiece!

But does anyone remember Melanie B from the Spice Girls covering the song? Yes I remember that too! said...

That's a great story. I love the song. It's so danceable.

Unknown said...

LOL! Cameo...still is going strong. I saw them at a old school R&B fest about two years ago and they turned it out. Larry is still wearing that piece too. lol! I'm a hardcore old school r&b fan so I keep Cameo in rotation. They had another hit called Candy.

Lazlo said...

The '80s were wonderful for their quirky culture, including music: New Wave, metal, funk . . . Cyndi Lauper, Prince, Boy George . . .

and yes, Cameo.

W-O-R-D Up!

and remember also "She's Strange"


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