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Antonia Christina Basilotta (born September 22, 1943) — known as Toni Basil — is an Emmy Winning and Grammy nominated American singer, director, actress, filmmaker, and choreographer. Basil is best-known for her worldwide #1 hit "Mickey" from 1982.


Early life

Basil was born in Philadelphiamarker, Pennsylvaniamarker. Her mother, Jacqueline Jessica Anderson was a vaudevillian acrobatic comedian in her family's act "Billy Wells and The Four Fays." Her father, Louis Basil, was an orchestra leader who conducted orchestras at The Chicago Theatremarker and later at The Sahara Hotelmarker in Las Vegasmarker among others.

Dance career

Toni Basil has been dancing professionally since childhood but her professional career started when she served as an assistant choreographer and dancer on Shindig!, an American music variety show which was broadcast on the ABC network from September 16, 1964, to January 8, 1966. She was also assistant choreographer and was featured as a go-go dancer on the 1964 concert film The T.A.M.I. Show (Teen-Age Music International), which also featured fellow dancer and friend, Teri Garr.

Basil choreographed and co-directed with David Byrne, the "Once in a Lifetime" music video for the Talking Heads. She worked with Talking Heads again to direct and choreograph the music video for the song "Crosseyed and Painless." She also choreographed David Bowie's Diamond Dogs Tour in 1974 and Glass Spider Tour in 1987. She has worked with Bette Midler for many years, most recently on her 2008/2009 Las Vegas show The Showgirl Must Go On. She also served as the associate director and choreographer of the worldwide Tina Turner Live in Concert Tour. Her expertise as a choreographer led her to be invited to sit as a guest judge on season four and five of Fox Television's So You Think You Can Dance. In addition, she is credited with bringing street dance to prominence by serving as manager of The Lockers.

Her film choreography work includes Pajama Party (1964), George Lucas's American Graffiti (1973), and The Monkees' 1968 film Head in which she makes an appearance as a dancer during "Daddy's Song" with Davy Jones. Other notable choreography work credited to Basil can be found in the films The Rose, Legally Blonde, That Thing You Do, and My Best Friend's Wedding.

Music career

Basil's recording career began in 1966 with a single for A&M Records which was the title song from the short film Breakaway. This film was made by internationally famous filmmaker and artist Bruce Conner, and backed with "I'm 28," an obscure Graham Gouldman song. She appeared as a guest during the first season of Saturday Night Live as one of The Lockers and on later seasons as a singer as well as a filmmaker with her urban style "Swan Lake". In 1982 she released the single "Mickey" which went on to achieve international success. This song is a cover of "Kitty," a 1979 release by UK band Racey, written by British hitmakers Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman and produced by Mike Chapman. The original song did not include the famous 'Oh Mickey, you're so fine' chant which Basil added. "Mickey" was actually recorded in 1980 and the video was conceived, directed, and choreographed by Basil herself for UK based label Radial Choice two years before the inception of MTV. However, the music video for "Mickey" was one of the most popular early MTV videos. In the video, Basil wore her head cheerleader uniform from Las Vegas High School from which she graduated. During an interview on VH1's "100 Greatest Songs of The 80's", Basil revealed that she still owns the same cheerleader sweater she wore in the video. In 2003, VH1 ranked "Mickey" Number 6 on its list of the 100 Greatest One Hit Wonders of the '80s.

For Television, Basil has appeared as an actress and featured singer/dancer in many television shows and specials. She co-directed and choreographed two BBC specials with Adam Walsh and Ken Stephinson called "Toni Basil Tape 1" and Toni Basil Tape 2" which catapulted her song "Mickey" to number one worldwide.

Basil's recording career consists of only two albums. Her first album, 1982's Word of Mouth included a second Hot 100 single "Shoppin' from A to Z," as well as three songs by Devo, with the group providing the backing track. The track "Space Girls" was a re-recording of a 1974 Devo demo titled "Space Girl Blues" that would later be released on Devo's "Hardcore Devo: Volume One". Devo member Gerald V. Casale and Toni were in a relationship at the time and Basil had been an early supporter of the group.

Toni's second album, Toni Basil (1983) yielded Basil's third and final Hot 100 charting single, "Over My Head," which also reached #4 on the U.S. Dance chart. Her song "Girls Night Out" made an appearance on the soundtrack to the 1986 film Modern Girls. To date, there have been no fewer than five Toni Basil best-of collections released on CD. In 1999, DJ and producer Jason Nevin's dance remix of "Mickey" was a big club hit in Europe and Australia.

Basil had others hits internationally like her single "Street Beat" which was a smash hit in the Philippinesmarker. Basil also contributed vocals for a Devo song "The Only One" in 1987, which wasn't released until 2000, on the demo compilation Recombo DNA.

Acting career

As an actress, Basil started off in the classic films Easy Rider and Five Easy Pieces. Some of her other films include The Last Movie directed by Dennis Hopper, Greaser's Palace directed by Robert Downy Sr., Mother, Jugs & Speed, Village of the Giants, Rockula with Thomas Dolby and Slaughterhouse Rock. On TV, she has appeared in episodes of "Laverne And Shirley" and "Baywatch Nights" as a fortune teller.


Basil's late 60's 8mm and 16mm films recently toured the US with the show "Semina Culture: Wallace Berman and His Circle".

Awards and accolades

Toni Basil's awards include Hip Hop International's Living Legend Award, a Grammy nomination for Long Form Video ("Word Of Mouth") 1983, an Emmy nomination and win for Outstanding Achievement in Choreography / The Smothers Brothers 1988 , two MTV Award nominations, American Choreography Awards: Four nominations & Two Wins including Lifetime Achievement Innovator, and The Los Angeles Theater Ovation: Street Dance Award. Exhibitions include the Museum of Modern Art: videos and the Santa Monica Museum of Art: Short films. She has also received Platinum and Gold Discs in the USAmarker, United Kingdommarker, Australia, Canadamarker, Philippines, and Francemarker. Her single Mickey was installed in the Rock & Roll Hall of Famemarker as one of the groundbreaking singles of the 1980's . She was given tribute at The Choreographers Carnival: Monsters of Hip-Hop Masters of Movement, and in Portraits of America's Great Choreographers. She was featured in the "Museum of Modern Art Calendar of Artists" and on the cover of Dance Magazine.




Year Album U.S. RIAA Certification
1982 Word of Mouth 2 Gold
1983 Toni Basil
  • Formats: LP, CS


Year Single Album U.S. US Dance UK Singles Chart
1966 "Breakaway"
1982 "Mickey" Word of Mouth 1 3 2
1982 "Nobody" Word of Mouth 52
1983 "Shoppin' From A to Z" Word of Mouth 77 4
1983 "Street Beat" Toni Basil 81 4
1984 "Over My Head" Toni Basil 4
1984 "Suspense" Toni Basil 8

Promo Singles

  • 1983: "Time After Time"
  • 1984: "Do You Wanna Dance"


External links

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