Robert Haimer and Bill Mumy were childhood friends who occasionally performed together on their musical instruments. Following the ending of Mumy's role on the TV series Lost in Space, they would shoot short films with a Super 8 motion picture camera, dubbed "Art Films". The two began calling each other "Art" in joking reference to these films.
They formed the band Barnes & Barnes in 1970. Their surname Barnes was taken from a Bill Cosby comedy routine called "Revenge", in which a character called Junior Barnes throws a snowball at Cosby as a child. Originally, both Haimer and Mumy were named "Art Barnes", but Haimer's alter ego was publicly renamed "Artie" in 1979 to differentiate between them.
They first received airplay on The Dr. Demento Show in 1978 with their songs "Boogie Woogie Amputee" and "Fish Heads". The latter recording was released as a single on their own Lumania Records in 1979 and remains their best-known song, as well as the most requested song in the history of The Dr. Demento Show. They produced a video for the song, which was broadcast frequently as a novelty item on MTV. The song was often misattributed to The Chipmunks for its processed high-pitched chorus:
In 1978, Damaskas and Barnes & Barnes recorded "A Day in the Life of Green Acres," a song that combined the music of The Beatles "A Day in the Life" with the lyrics to the theme song of the television show Green Acres. It was inspired by Little Roger and the Goosebumps' similar intertwining of Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" and the theme toGilligan's Island.
Actor Bill Paxton appears in the videos for "Fish Heads", "Soak It Up", and "Love Tap".In 2005, Barnes & Barnes were inducted into the Comedy Music Hall of Fame.