(Robbie van Leeuwen)
Robbie van Leeuwen wrote this song, which was an
adaptation of Tim Rose’s “The Banjo Song” from 1964. The Dutch group Shocking Blue, who he
performed with as their producer, backing singer, sitarist and guitarist,
released it in 1969. It
appeared on their At Home with the single being released in
1969. Before long it was
topping charts all over the world and became a gold record in January 1970
after it had sold in excess of a million in the United States, making it to
No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in February 1970. It was also very popular in the U.S.S.R. where it became
known as “Shizgarah”, which was unusual for Western music at the time.
It was then adapted again, under the same title, by
Simon Luca in 1970 when it was recorded and released by Augusto Righetti.
Catching the attention of the British group Bananarama
during the 1980s, they expressed a wish to record a dance version, but
their current producers weren’t keen on the idea. They took it the eminent producers Stock Aitken Waterman
who also had doubts about it, but after they managed to persuade them it
was a good idea they recorded it in December 1985 and released the single
the following May. After all
of the opposition to their idea of a dance version, they went out and
proved they knew what they were talking about when the single topped the
charts in numerous countries and entered the Top 10 in many more. It has since been remixed and
re-released by the group on “Megarama ‘89”, which just came out in France
and Germany, and made further appearances on their albums Exotica
and Drama which were released in 2001 and 2005 respectively.
1986 also saw it being used by Weird Al Yankovich in
his “Polka Party”.
The popularity of the song was such that it was
brought to the fore 21 years after it’s original release when The BHF Team
re-released it as a dance track after remixing it in 1990. Once again it rose up the charts
and hit the Top 10 in both Australia and the UK.
Other artists and groups that have recorded it include
Alvin & The Chipmunks, Tom Jones, Olympians, Seduced, Stars on 45, Yoko
Nagayama along with many more.
Over the life of the song and in its various incarnations
to date it has appeared on countless movies and TV shows that include American
Dad, American Wedding, The Brady Bunch Movie, Grumpier Old Men, Life on
Mars, The Muppets, Otis, Remember the Titans, Romy & Michele’s High
School Reunion among others.
Stars on 45 recordings
Medley: Intro “Venus” – Sugar Sugar – No
Reply – I’ll Be Back – Drive My Car – Do You Want to Know a Secret – We Can
Work it Out – I Should Have Known Better – Nowhere Man – You’re Going to
Lose That Girl – Stars on 45 (Jeff Barry/Martin
Duiser/Jaap Eggermont/Andy Kim/Robert Van Leeuwen/John Lennon/Paul
Radio Records RR 3810