Bill Murray’s Lounge Singer: ‘Star Wars’ on ‘SNL’

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Bill Murray, as Nick Winters, on SNL, January 28, 1978

In early 1978, the Star Wars phenomenon was in its infancy. The film had opened on May 25, 1977, and since multiplexes were rare, it was still playing first-run theaters. The original soundtrack recording, composed and conducted by John Williams, and performed with the London Symphony Orchestra, was still #20 on the sales charts, 33 weeks after its release.

Fans were well-familiar with its main theme. In fact, a single, recorded by an artist-producer named Meco, had already cashed in on the craze, reaching #1 for two weeks in October 1977. (His accompanying album was also a success.)

Unsuspecting audiences may not have realized that the main theme had lyrics. At least one person knew them on January 28, 1978: a lounge singer named Nick Winters at the Powder Room, the apres-ski bar at Meatloaf Mountain.

Winters, of course, was the Saturday Night Live character portrayed by Bill Murray, who “entertained” audiences at various venues on the sketch comedy series.

As the “Nick the Lounge Singer” skit starts, Murray and his piano accompanist (played by Paul Shaffer) are performing “a little something by a guy named Ricard Strauss called ‘Twenty Oh One’.”

He then spots a couple visiting from Minneapolis, the Sundbergs, portrayed by Gilda Radner and John Belushi. She’s in a cast, having broken her leg that same day.

“Oh, that cast makes me so sad,” Nick says. “Don’t it make my brown eyes… don’t it make my brown eyes… don’t it make my brown eyes… bluuue,” he croons, overemphasizing the lyrics to Crystal Gayle’s 1977 hit.

His next “victim” is ski instructor Heinz Kleimer (played by that week’s guest host, Robert Klein). “And whose this pretty snow muffin with you, Heinz,” he asks. “Mrs. Lyman,” is the mumbled reply.

“I’m sorry, can you say it one more time?” Nick asks.

She looks up. “Mrs. LYMAN,” cast member Laraine Newman says sternly.

“Oh, I see. Are you still married, Mrs. Lyman?”

“Yes. My husband is exhausted and I don’t ski.”

“Well, you make friends with Heinz here,” says Nick, blowing her attempt for discretion, as he launches into a KC and the Sunshine Band favorite.

“That’s the way, uh huh, I like it… Six inches of powder! With a 50-inch base! And a lot of cute snow bunnies!”

Next up is Jimmy Joe Red Sky, the mountain’s trail maintenance guy, played by Dan Aykroyd.

Nick gets ready to close his set with a huge finale… “Let’s go out with something really hot tonight…”

And then those lyrics that audiences never knew existed. “Star Wars… nothing but Star Wars. Give me those Star Wars… don’t let them end…”

Watch Nick the Lounge Singer

Related: That same 1/28/78 episode featured the great “Cheeseburger Cheeseburger” sketch

Murray was born September 21, 1950.

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