“King Tut“ is a novelty song performed by Steve Martin and the Toot Uncommons….who were actually members of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band….when it was released as a single in 1978….which sold over a million copies…while reaching # 17 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Martin previewed the song in a live performance during the April 22, 1978 episode of Saturday Night Live…..as seen in this video herewith. The song was also included on Martin’s album A Wild and Crazy Guy.
“King Tut” paid homage to Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun….and presents a caricature of the sensational Treasures of Tutankhamun traveling exhibit that toured seven United States cities from 1976 to 1979….in an exhibit that attracted approximately eight million visitors. In the Saturday Night Live performance of “King Tut”, the loyal subjects appease a joyful King Tut with kitchen appliances. An instrumental solo is delivered by saxophone player Lou Marini….who steps out of a sarcophagus—painted gold to great laughter from the studio crowd.
Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers recorded the song in a bluegrass version for their 2011 album, Rare Bird Alert….and the song is the subject of in-depth analysis in Melani McAlister’s Epic Encounters: Culture, Media, and U.S. Interests in the Middle East, 1945–2000….and it is also referenced in a dialogue in the video game The Lost Vikings from 1992 at the end of one of the Egyptian themed levels of the game. Chicago radio superstation WLS-AM….which gave the song a great deal of airplay….ranked “King Tut” as the 11th biggest hit of 1978….as it spent four weeks at the # 1 position on their chart during the time the Tut exhibition was on display at the Field Museum of Natural History in downtown Chicago.