On March 7, 1997, the "King of All Media" Howard Stern conquered a new medium—the box office. The film, based on his autobiography of the same name, would go on to gross $41 million—not quite enormous numbers, but it remains one of the most memorable comedies from the 1990s.
When people think of the film, they often break out into a rendition of Stern's exaggerated "W-N-B-C" call letters—you have to put 98% of the emphasis on the "N."
It was an uncensored look at the life and career up to that point of one of the most controversial media figures of all time. Since 2006, The Howard Stern Show has resided on satellite radio, leaving Stern, Robin Quivers, Fred Norris and Gary Dell'Abate with much more creative freedom than ever before.
But to this day, The Howard Stern Show still opens and closes with two songs from the "Private Parts" film soundtrack. The show opens with Rob Zombie's "The Great American Nightmare." The show signs off with an instrumental The Dust Brothers' "Tortured Man"—with Stern on the non-harmonic vocals, venting about his insecurities (most of which still remain).
Music always has a massive influence on the Stern Show. Stern himself gushes over. Although he has said on the show, "I don't have time for anything but power chords," he has shown interest in a wide variety of tunes. One of the more memorable recent musical guests was Lady Gaga, who performed a"Million Reasons" in the studio. Stern was moved to tears.
The soundtrack released to accompany "Private Parts" was a two-CD package filled with power chords, headbangers and moshers. It sold over a million copies in under two months.
Here's a look back at some of the highlights:
An excerpt from Paul Giamatti's soliloquy as Kenny "Pig Vomit" Ruston in the film. Giamatti has had an incredible film and television career since "Private Parts." Despite that, many fans still shout "W-N-B-C" and "hey Pig Vomit" at him when he's spotted in public. It's a testament to his stellar performance and the relevance of the film to this day.
"The Great American Nightmare"by Rob Zombie
According to Setlist.Fm, Rob Zombie has only performed this song live four times, with the most recent in 2014 for Stern's 60th birthday party.
"I Make My Own Rules" by L.L. Cool J with Flea, Dave Navarro and Chad Smith
The tile is very much a mantra of Stern's. And the artists on the track are a throwback to the few years that Navarro was the guitarist with the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
"The Suck for Your Solution" by Marilyn Manson
This song played over the credits of "Private Parts" after "Tortured Man" faded.
"Pictures of Matchstick Men" by Ozzy Osbourne with Type O Negative
Ozzy himself appeared in the opening scene of "Private Parts"—he took a shocked look at Stern dressed as his alter-ego Fartman and remarked, "what a fucking joke."
"Tired of Waiting For You" by Green Day
Green Day was one of the last live performances on The Howard Stern Show to take place in front of Howard Himself. They were last on the show in the fall of 2019, when Stern took the show to Los Angeles for a week to celebrate the opening of Sirius XM's new west coast studio. Since the pandemic began, Stern has broadcast the show remotely from his home.
"Pinhead" by the Ramones
In the film, a young Stern played by the man himself shamelessly air-drums in front of his boss, Moti. In a firm Israeli accent, Moti then chewed out Stern: "Howard, you stink. I don't mince words. You will never be a disc jockey. You have lousy voice, lousy personality and this will not change."
"Smoke on the Water" by Deep Purple
This song played during a memorable scene featuring a young Stern running a college radio show and accidentally dropping a pile of records on the one spinning to the radio audience. Though he was embarrassed, he met the first love of his life, Allison, in the next scene.
"I Want You to Want Me" by Cheap Trick
Another song masquerading as a mantra of Stern's.
"Cat Scratch Fever" by Ted Nugent
This song played as the young Stern takes a new job at a a new radio show, 106FM, WWWW in Detroit. The DJ finishing up his shift sees Stern and endows him as "Big Bird" while on the air. Stern then narrates, "My life sucked. Allison dumped me, I didn't know if she'd ever come back to me. And now this dickwad is calling me Big Bird. I don't know. Something in me just snapped."
"Jamie's Cryin'" by Van Halen
Look up on YouTube for clips of David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar as guests on the Stern Show. Stern is a pretty good referee.
"You Shook Me All Night Long" by AC/DC
Stern's gift to New York City when his show hit #1 was a live performance for fans at Bryant Park. During during the scene, Allison reveals to Stern that she's going into labor with their first child. As that happens, pay attention to Stern's parents in the background. They are both smiling and clapping off-time with AC/DC. It looks like it was an intentional direction from the director, Betty Thomas. Stern's parents are still alive and well into their 90s.
"Tortured Man" by The Dust Brothers and Howard Stern
The lyrics are as accurate to Stern's mindset back in 1997 as they are today in 2022—and for that matter, since the show began in 1981.