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Mungo Jerry

"In the Summertime"

Mungo JerryRay DorsetIn 1970, The Good Earth Rock 'N Roll Band -- Ray Dorset (guitar, vocals), Colin Earl (keyboard), Paul King (banjo, jug), and Mike Cole (bass) -- were signed by Pye Records, which was looking to launch a new record format known as the maxi-single, an album-sized record that would only contain 3-4 tracks. The label did not care for the band's name, however, and insisted on a name change. The new name, Mungo Jerry, was inspired by the poem Mungojerrie and Rumpelteaser from T.S. Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats.

Mungo Jerry's first maxi-single --"In the Summertime," "Mighty Man," and "Dust Pneumonia Blues" -- was released in May 1970. "In the Summertime," which had not been the band's choice for its debut single, went straight to the top of the UK charts and stayed there for seven weeks, and sold over six million copies within six months of its release. The band made its live debut at the Hollywood Festival at Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, the same week its single was released, and all but stole the show. The band's self-titled debut album was released (complete with 3D sleeve and glasses) in July, and made its first trip to the United States in September.

In 1971, Cole was replaced by John Godfrey. The new line-up released "Baby Jump" (as part of a maxi-single with "The Man Behind the Piano" and live versions of "Midnight Special" and "Mighty Man") in March of that year and Mungo Jerry scored its second #1 UK hit. This single was followed by Electronically Tested, named after the guarantee of quality on packages of Durex condoms, and then the group's third hit single, "Lady Rose." By the time Mungo Jerry was all of two years old it had racked up 4 Top-20 singles (including 2 Number Ones) and 2 Top-20 Albums, a pretty good track record for bands of that era.

Things did not stay all rosy for Mungo Jerry, however, as Dorset began trying to get the band to expand its musical style, including adding a drummer to the line-up. In 1972, he released the solo album Cold Blue Excursion, which featured songs backed by strings and brass, and one song with a jazz band. The band toured Australia and the Far East that same year, and, upon its return to the U.K., King and Earl announced they wanted to fire Dorset. Pye Records responded by firing King and Earl instead, saying that Dorset was the undisputed face of Mungo Jerry. Dorset and Godfrey recruited new members and recorded Mungo Jerry's fourth album, Boot Power; King and Earl briefly formed the King Earl Boogie Band, and then went their separate ways with other bands.

Mungo Jerry continued to hit the charts throughout the 1970's. Notable singles from this period include "Open Up," "Alright Alright Alright," "Wild Love," "Long Legged Woman Dressed in Black," "Hello Nadine," "It's A Secret," and "You Don't Have to be in The Army To Fight in The War." It was also the first western band ever to play live television in all of the countries behind the Iron Curtain. Although the band's popularity had waned by the end of the 1970's, Dorset has kept the Mungo Jerry name alive and continues to tour today.

To get a more complete history of Mungo Jerry, including its many, many line-up changes, check out the band's official website: http://www.mungojerry.com.

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This page was last updated on 12/28/2014.

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