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Home » History » 867-5309: The History of America’s Most Catchy Phone Number

867-5309: The History of America’s Most Catchy Phone Number

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You’re probably hearing it in your head right now. The infamous song 867-5309, also called “Jenny” is impossible to read without associating it with the catchy tune. It’s one of the reasons why it’s so popular, even years after the song’s release in the 80’s. What you may not know is that this unique phone number is called far more often than you think.

If you listen to the song or read the lyrics online, you can “call Jenny for a good time.” As a result, people all over the country have done exactly that. There are many recorded instances of creative (but not necessarily original) prank callers who dial the famous phone number in conjunction with as many area codes as they can think of.

So who are the lucky recipients of this number, and what is their response to callers looking for Jenny? For the most part, these numbers either belong to a private residence, a public business, or the number is out of service altogether. However some enterprises purposefully choose or purchase the number in hopes of earning more notoriety and revenue for their business.

Owners of the number admit it’s a headache when prepubescent teens call the line asking for the title character Jenny. Sometimes they let the calls go straight to voicemail, and other times they simply give their own funny response in return, so they don’t try to dial it again in the future.

About the Song’s History

The band Tommy Tutone first wrote and performed the song around 1981 – 1982. The singers names are Jim Keller and Tommy Heath. What they did not anticipate was how fast it would rise in the ranks. The song even made it onto the Billboard Hot 100 in just a short period of time. Jenny’s number wasn’t just popular in the United States. 867-5309 also made top charts in Australia, New Zealand, and Canada as well. The memorable words are now sung over the radio and in karaoke bars, carrying on the music of this period of the 80’s with other top hits such as “Eye of the Tiger” and “Maneater.”

The song itself is about a man who sees a number on a bathroom wall. The songwriter of the band claims the girl, Jenny, is a fictional character and the phone number “just kind of came out.” Though many claim that Jenny is a real girl who may or may not have dated a member of the band, it is widely believed that she never existed at all.

There are plenty of other instances of famous phone numbers people love to sing. Another infamous one is Sir Mix-A-Lot’s 1-800-MIX-A-LOT in the song Baby Got Back. Sir Mix-A-Lot uses what’s called a vanity number, where the numbers are arranged to spell out a memorable word or phrase. However, if you dial this one yourself, you will only hear a dial tone as it’s out of service.

555: The Solution to Unwanted Callers

There used to be a time when numbers just like 867-5309 were frequently used in pop culture.
However it’s fairly unavoidable that people will get curious and attempt to call a number like this one. But what about other songwriters, television and movie producers who want to make good content but avoid all the fuss?

This problem is easily solved with the prefix 555, mainly reserved for works of fiction. This is why, when you watch a movie or read a book with a character’s phone number, you’re most likely to see “555” instead of other area codes or prefixes. This is a widely used practice because the code doesn’t connect to any line, and there is no way for a person in real life to dial it. It’s also used because creators don’t want to broadcast a real family’s phone number by accident.

For example, the answer to “Who you gonna call?” in the cult classic “Ghostbusters” is their signature phone number, 555-2368. And in “Billy Madison,” Danny’s phone number is 555-0840. Check out some other famous “555” numbers for yourself here.

Want Jenny’s Number?

Those who want to own Jenny’s number for themselves may have to wait a while.

Some businesses that have used the number in the past include local DJs, plumbers, advertising agencies, heating and cooling services, realtor offices, trucking companies, and more. For many of them the assignment was coincidental, but for the most part these companies made a conscious decision to purchase it. For instance, 867-5309 has been put up for sale on eBay with various area codes attached to it. You’ll even find, when researching the history of the number even further, that some companies have battled in court over the legal rights to use it.

Since there are theoretically only dozens of versions of the phone number available, Jenny unknowingly started a bidding war online. For instance, a Philadelphia-based resident owns the toll free 800 and 888 versions. He states that the value of these numbers is in the millions. Even though he rejected a million dollar offer for ownership, he currently licenses the numbers for a few different advertisers.

Technically speaking, carriers own phone numbers, but they can be changed over based on your provider. Making the switch, however, will take some research and probably a healthy financial investment.

Make Your Business More Memorable

You might want to be called just as often as the above enterprises. If this is the case, it’s time to give us a call at Global Call Forwarding. We can set you up with a vanity number or digital number that can forward to any line in the U.S. and beyond.

Vanity numbers, local numbers, and toll free numbers improve business because they communicate a “theme” present in your marketing tactics, such as quality or dependability. Not only that, vanity numbers make your company unforgettable. More calls equal more sales, so don’t discount them! This is a little-used, but highly effective competitive advantage. Get in contact with Global Call Forwarding today for your custom business numbers.

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