"Lunatic Fringe" is a song by the Canadian rock band Red Rider from their 1981 album, ''As Far as Siam''. Guitarist Tom Cochrane wrote the song after becoming concerned about a resurgence of anti-Semitism in the 1970s, and was also inspired after reading a book about Raoul Wallenberg, who rescued Jews from The Holocaust during World War II.〔Bell, Mike: (Cochrane finds new meaning ), ''Canadian Online Explorer'', December 6, 2002.〕 Some sources have incorrectly cited the murder of John Lennon as the song's primary inspiration; in fact, Cochrane had already written the song before Lennon was killed, but recorded the song's first demo the evening of the murder. He has stated that his feelings about the event, and how it echoed the theme of his song, galvanized him to release the song as a single despite advice from the record label that the song wasn't commercial enough.〔("Rush, Stompin' Tom Connors, Tom Cochrane among SOCAN Award winners" ). Canadian Press, November 23, 2009.〕
The song starts with a sinister, low keyboard tone, punctuated by a "double tap" of two medium-pitched short notes. The song then progresses with its main theme, ending dramatically with ambulance sirens and final guitar riffs. Throughout the body of the song is a low, powerful bassline.
The song is a radio favorite, and has received regular airplay in the United States and Canada. It reached #11 on the Rock Radio Airplay Chart in ''Billboard'' in September 1981,〔(Rock Albums & Top Tracks ), ''Billboard'', Vol. 93, No. 36, September 12, 1981.〕 and was awarded a SOCAN Classic award in 2009 by the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada for reaching the 100,000-airplay mark on (Canadian) domestic radio.〔(20th Annual SOCAN Awards ), Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada, 2009.〕
In 1997, Tom Cochrane re-recorded the track for his album, ''Songs of a Circling Spirit'', which charted on the ''RPM'' Top 100 Singles chart for four weeks, peaking at #70.
The song was such a big influence on Cincinnati's legendary rock station WEBN that it began using the slogan ''"The Lunatic Fringe Of American FM"'' in 1984.
The song is used as walkout music for heavyweight UFC fighter Jared Rosholt.
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