So very nearly there now and definitely onto Christmas songs in my UK Christmas Number Ones Advent Calendar, it’s December 22nd people, are you excited yet? You’re not? Why not? Maybe checking out NORADs Santa Checker will help, click here to find it. In the meantime let me take you back to Christmas 1957, another one from before I was born. This is one of only three songs to reach the Christmas Number One spot more than once. It was also the first song to achieve it. The song in question is “Marys Boy Child” and at Christmas 1957 it was number one in the UK courtesy of the supremely talented Harry Belafonte.
Harry Belafonte with Martin Luther King Jr and Sammy Davis Jr
I remember my Uncle Ben, who incidentally had nothing to do with rice, playing “There’s A Hole In My Bucket” to me on his ukulele. Harry Belafonte had a hit with the song in 1961 as a duet with, according to Wikipedia, Odetta Holmes. However I thought he did the song with Eartha Kitt. My first experience of Eartha Kitt was as her sultry performance in the camp 60s TV version of Batman where she played Catwoman. With hindsight maybe that was the seeds of my sexual awakening!
Anyway Harry’s version of “Mary’s Boy Child” was number one for 7 weeks. Harry first recorded the song in 1956, although it wasn’t released as a single until the following year. The Caribbean island of St Kitts issued postage stamps featuring the song in 1983. It has been covered by many acts, including; Andy Williams, Roger Whittaker, Bryn Terfel, Harry Connick Jr, Three Degrees, Nat King Cole, Jim Reeves, Rolf Harris, Charlotte Church, Juice Newton and of course Boney M.
They didn't have much of a clothing allowance did they?
It was Boney M who took the song back to the Christmas number one spot in the UK at Christmas 1978, their version which formed a medley with “Oh My Lord” was number one for 4 weeks. Boney M were an incredibly successful band in the late 70s, but I really disliked them. They came to prominence when I first started out as a mobile DJ with my good friend Glen Voisey. Thanks to Glen’s brother Gary we were known as Bill & Glen the Disco Men. The group were really the brainchild of German record producer Frank Farian. Their first big hit was “Daddy Cool” which was just about ok, but for me “Brown Girl In The Ring” still resonates as one of my least favourite songs. What do you think of Boney M?