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Colonel Bogey March

(Kenneth Joseph Alford)

This march was written in 1914 by Major F.J. Ricketts which was the real name of the musical director of the Royal Marines in Plymouth, England, who used the pseudonym Kenneth Alford.  He wrote it after hearing a fellow golfer whistle the same two notes with a minor third interval every time he teed off.  These two notes are what start the lines in the melody.  The name was given because the golfer was a military man, i.e. “Colonel” and a “bogey” is one over par in golf.

The song has been used in many capacities in many countries. For instance it is has been made into a song that uses various vulgarities by the English such as “Hitler Has Only Got One Ball”, which was sung in WWII, the Canadian Forces use it as their authorised march and children in the United States used to sing about a household cleaner in a parody of it called “Comet”.

In the movies it has appeared in the movie Bridge on the River Kwai, The Lady Vanishes, The Breakfast Club, The Parent Trap and Spaceballs.  On television it has featured in The Avengers, Doctor Who, Saturday Night Live, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and in several commercials.

The march has been performed in the style of a Beethoven sonata by the pianist/comedian Dudley Moore, in a bluegrass version called “Colonel Boogey Breakdown”, and a klezmer version called “Oy, Colonel Bogey”.

Boston Pops Orchestra recordings
RCA 61249 (CD: Marches in Hi Fi)
Conductor–  Arthur Fiedler

Sony SK 66710 (CD: Marches  Greatest Hits)
Conductor  John Williams

Cincinnati Pops Orchestra recordings
Telarc 80175 (CD: Victory at Sea & Other Favourites)
Conductor  Erich Kunzel