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Musical Rumours

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1254593.  Wed Oct 11, 2017 5:25 am Reply with quote

I was reading this interesting piece the other day and tried to look into the claims made at the start:

There’s always a story connected to classic songs. Like the one about Bing Crosby recording White Christmas on the hottest day of the year. Or the one about Otis Redding putting that iconic bit of whistling in (Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay in as a placeholder, and then being killed in a plane crash before he had a chance to finish it. Or how Lou Bega wrote Mambo No.5 in 15 minutes in his back garden.

I just wondered whether any longer-standing QIers had come across them before and whether there was any truth in them.

1254601.  Wed Oct 11, 2017 5:46 am Reply with quote

The Otis Redding one is definitely untrue.

Lots of detail here but essentially there are two stories. One, from Steve Cropper who co-wrote the song, is that Redding had originally intended to end the song with a series of ad-libs, as he did for "Try a Little Tenderness". However, when they got to the first take, Redding forgot what he intended to do and so whistled instead. By contrast, Al Bell of Stax Records claims that Redding had always intended to finish with the whistling refrain.

Either way, they performed three takes of the song on November 22nd 1967 during the course of which the whistling element was developed as a genuine part of the song. They went back to the studio on December 7th to record some overdubs. Redding died on December 10th, but he had clearly had enough opportunity to replace the whistling with something else if he had intended to.

1254615.  Wed Oct 11, 2017 6:18 am Reply with quote

Reminds me a bit of the (true) story about Glen Campbell's guitar solo on Wichita Lineman, which was added because the composer Jimmy Webb had sent him an incomplete version and he had a deadline to meet. Webb didn't even realize that Campbell had recorded the song and thought he'd rejected it:

1254616.  Wed Oct 11, 2017 6:21 am Reply with quote

Re Otis: according to this site:

Fascinatingly enough, when Cropper put together the final mix of the song after Redding’s death, he replaced Redding’s whistling entirely! The whistling on the final tune is done by Sam “Bluzman” Taylor (Cropper also added in the beach sound effects to the song).

1254700.  Wed Oct 11, 2017 10:46 am Reply with quote

As for White Christmas, there are all sorts of stories about it. The song was written by Irving Berlin, but there are two hotels - one in Arizona and one in California - which claim to have been the place where he wrote it. Irving Berlin was something of an insomniac, and wrote mostly at night.

Bing Crosby had performed the song on radio (live) at least twice before he ever recorded it, but the first time he recorded it in a studio was 29 May 1942. It's not impossible that that was the hottest day of the year, but summer generally starts and ends a couple weeks later in North America than it does in Europe and it seems unlikely.

As for Mambo No 5, Lou Bega wrote only the words; the tune was written by Pérez Prado in about 1949. Herr* Bega has not always explained his writing of the lyrics in the same way, but they are credited jointly to he and a fellow called Christian Pletschacher (also known as Zippy David). On the face of it, that makes it unlikely that they were written spontaneously while in the garden.

* OK, so I didn't know this either, but he's German. His father is Ugandan and his mother Italian, but he was born and raised in Munich. His real name is David Lubega.

Alfred E Neuman
1254706.  Wed Oct 11, 2017 11:15 am Reply with quote

suze wrote:
...but there are two hotels - one in Arizona and one in California

Which is a different song entirely :-)

1254748.  Wed Oct 11, 2017 1:44 pm Reply with quote

Did anyone else know that Jimi Hendrix played on the theme tune to The Likely Lads?

Richard Herring mentioned on his Twitter feed that Rodney Bewes told him about it during the Edinburgh Festival in 2012. He then wrote about it in his daily blog and his Metro column.

And I'm sure I've heard Danny Baker talking about it on one of his many radio shows.

1254752.  Wed Oct 11, 2017 1:52 pm Reply with quote

Bloody hell! Really?

1254754.  Wed Oct 11, 2017 2:04 pm Reply with quote

'yorz wrote:
Bloody hell! Really?

No, not really. Read the article.

Richard Herring wrote:
I was lucky enough to meet the former Likely Lad in a bar one evening and had a quick chat with him. Some stars don’t like to talk about the show that made them famous but Bewes didn’t even wait to be asked. I’m always delighted to listen to actors’ anecdotes, even though nearly all of them end with Laurence Olivier saying a very bad word.

Bewes was waxing lyrical about the seminal sitcom that made his name but then he said something that made me gasp and utter one of the swear words that Laurence Olivier was fond of using – but with a ‘me’ after it.Bewes claimed that Jimi Hendrix had played on the theme tune to the Likely Lads. Pull the other one, mate; it’s got Bob Holness playing the saxophone solo from Baker Street on it.

Bewes has something of a reputation for exaggeration and I expressed disbelief. However, he stuck to his guns. He said that they’d been recording the theme tune at a studio with Mike Hugg (the drummer with Manfred Mann who also wrote a few TV theme tunes), when Jimi knocked on the door. He’d been recording in the room next door and had liked what he’d heard and asked to join in. Bewes said that he went home that night and told his wife he’d been jamming with Jimi Hendrix and she said: ‘Oh Rodney, why do you keep making this rubbish up?’ Bewes looked at me with his wide and innocent eyes saying: ‘But this time it was true.’

He was admitting that he was known for his bull shtick but was this a clever ruse from a practised weaver of yarns or the truth from a man hoist with his own petard? ‘Why were you in the studio?’ I queried. ‘That wasn’t you singing the theme tune, was it?’

Bewes smiled and said that it was. It was just surprise after surprise.Of course after I’d spoken to him, I went straight on to Twitter to see if this ‘fact’ could be verified. It was quickly established that Hendrix wasn’t in Britain when the original Likely Lads series aired and was unfortunately dead by the time the follow up, Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads?, was on TV (and Bewes had not sung on that theme tune). I was crushed.It seemed that Bewes had ‘misremembered’. What an amazing fact this would have been to bring to the world and what a top quiz question it would make.

Not sure how a source denying a rumour can be taken as evidence for it.

1254776.  Wed Oct 11, 2017 4:05 pm Reply with quote

Richard Herring wrote:
It was quickly established that Hendrix wasn’t in Britain when the original Likely Lads series aired
[my bold]

That may be, but it's well possible that Hendrix was in the UK when the series and intro were shot.

1254777.  Wed Oct 11, 2017 4:08 pm Reply with quote

Another old saw is the suggestion that John Peel played the mandolin on Rod Stewart's Maggie May.

In fact, the mandolin player was a fellow called Ray Jackson. Mr Jackson's "day job" was as a member of Lindisfarne, and as luck would have it Lindisfarne were out of the country on tour when Maggie May became a big hit. Accordingly he couldn't go to Top of the Pops, and so Mr Peel stood in for him miming playing a mandolin.

John Peel's real instrumental talent was on the Jew's harp.


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