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Holding Out For Halyx: Disney’s Forgotten Rock Band

If you’re a Disney parks, one YouTube channel you may be familiar with is Defunctland. Hosted by Kevin Perjurer, Defunctland is a documentary series that, for the most part, focuses on former theme park attractions. While they’ve done episodes on different parks Disney in particular has gotten a lot of attention on the channel, what makes the series so great is the amount of care and effort put into every video. Even something as small as the Disney Channel theme song made for a compelling “documentary.” But there’s one particular Disney-centric subject the channel touched on a few years ago that I found especially interesting. That is the story of Disney’s long-forgotten sci-fi themed rock band Halyx.

In 2020 Defunctland released a full-length crowdfunded documentary called “Live from the Space Stage: A Halyx Story.” For those who have no idea what Halyx is, it was a rock band that played at Disney’s Tomorrowland in 1981. Probably one of the best ways to describe them is if you mixed Star Wars with the band KISS.

Their genesis was the result of executives at Disneyland Records wanting to create an organic rock band. They auditioned and hired professional musicians to create this admittedly odd (but also kind of cool) idea. As stated earlier, the band only played at Disneyland for that one summer in 1981. The original hope was that they’d be able to record an actual album, and possibly get to play in a variety type show down the line. However, a planned deal between them and Warner Music Group never materialized and the group disbanded before they even got a chance to branch out beyond the park.

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In hindsight, Halyx seems like the kind of thing that was destined to be forgotten. It was a weird and obscure experiment by Disney that would only be remembered by people who saw them at the time Thanks to the internet, however, the band has experienced somewhat of a resurgence.

In addition Defunctland’s video, the band also been featured on several Disney-themed podcasts. Now there’s a whole new group of fans wearing shirts buying the vintage posters from Disneyland and even making their own fan art and merchandise based on the characters. After a recent rewatch of the documentary, and seeing that original artwork, I began to wonder how it would look if the band was brought back in animated form.

Original concept art for the band under the name StarFire (before they were dubbed Halyx).

Now, sadly, the band’s real-life lead singer, Lora Mumford, passed away a few years ago. But I think it’s still possible to revive the band. For that reason, and the fact that the rest of the surviving cast members are obviously older, I think it would be easier to craft an animated series about the characters. When Lora Mumford was first hired for the band, the producers famously said she looked like they “a punk Snow White,” which matched the aesthetic they were going for. When you think of the basic science fiction idea of the band combined with classic Disney Animation, I can imagine it working perfectly. Doing an animated series, or even just a one-off special, would be a fun way to pay tribute to the era of cheesy sci-fi and movies about unlikely likable characters teaming up. While it sounds cliche, it would be the ultimate way to “bring the band back together.”

Basically, imagine that episode of Star Wars: Visions with the rock band. That’s the vibe I’d go with for something like this. Since Disney actually owns Star Wars now, they don’t have to worry about potentially getting sued for ripping off their aesthetic.

And Disney has gone this route within the sci-fi genre before. In fact, they tried it twice with Buzz Lightyear. Once in the 2D animated series Buzz Lightyear of Star Command in the early 2000s and last year with Pixar’s underwhelming Lightyear. While the company failed with such a popular character from a well-established franchise, I still believe there’s a chance to do something fun with Halyx.

Granted, the idea of combing actual musicians with animation isn’t a new thing either. You can go as far back as the 1960s with a band like The Archies – or more recently with the band Gorillaz. There’s also the animated film Rock & Rule (Which is definitely NOT a kid’s movie but has a similar concept). However, a project like this could actually work if you really put some creative people behind it. Given that the studio has a whole platform to experiment with content like this (Disney+), there’s almost no reason not to.

If I haven’t already made it obvious, the band has managed to build a strong cult following of fans over the past few years. Whether it be bringing the act back to Tomorrowland with new performers or somehow managing to find all of its original recordings and re-releasing them for a brand new generation to enjoy, many fans (including myself) would like to see it return. The only question is: how long will Disney take to realize the value in the hidden gem of a franchise that is Halyx?

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