Every UK Number One Song: In The Summertime

In The Summertime” by Mungo Jerry was number one on 13th June 1970 and stayed there for an amazing 7 weeks.

Maybe not the ideal time of year to be playing this song but it truly symbolises that summer feeling. From as soon as you hear to initial “chuck chi chuck” intro you just want to go and run and find the nearest ice cream truck!

 

In the Summertime” written by lead singer Ray Dorset, it celebrates the carefree days of summer. In 1970 it reached number one in charts around the world, including seven weeks in the UK Singles Chart, two weeks in one of the Canadian charts, and number three on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in the US. It is considered one of the best-selling singles of all time with an estimated 30 million copies sold.

The song took Dorset only ten minutes to compose on a second-hand Fender Stratocaster while he was taking time off work from his regular job, working in a lab for Timex. The song’s lyric “have a drink, have a drive, go out and see what you can find” led to the song’s somewhat ironic use in a UK advert for the campaign Drinking and Driving Wrecks Lives.

The initial UK release was on Dawn Records, a new label launched by Pye. It was unusual in that it was a maxi single, playing at 33 rpm, whereas singles generally played at 45 rpm. It included an additional song, “Mighty Man” (also written by Dorset) on the A-side, and a much longer track, the Woody Guthrie song “Dust Pneumonia Blues”, on the B-side. As the record was sold in a picture sleeve, also not standard at the time, and only sold at a few pence more than the normal 45 rpm two-track single, it was considered value for money. The small quantities of 45 rpm discs on the Pye record label, with “Mighty Man” on the B-side, and without a picture sleeve, were pressed for use in jukeboxes. These are now rare collectors items.

In 2012 Dorset sued Associated Music International, claiming over £2 million in royalties from the song that he believed had been withheld from him.

In an interview with Gary James, Dorset explained the origin of the “motorcycle” sound towards the end of the song: “I said “We’ll just get a recording of a motorcycle, stick it on the end of the song and then re-edit the front and then put the front off to the motorcycle so it starts up again.” But I couldn’t find a motorcycle. Howard Barry, the engineer had an old, well, it wasn’t old then, a Triumph sports car, which he drove past the studio while Barry Marrit was holding the microphone. So, he got the stereo effects from left to right or right to left, whatever. And that was it.”

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The talkaboutpopmusic Every UK Number One is now on Spotify. Relive, enjoy and share every song featured up until the latest post…

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