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The song is best known from an instrumental version by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, released as a single and on their 1965 album Going Places, both of which were No. 1 hits in America. The song featured Alpert's trumpet over a Latin rhythm backing.
"Spanish Flea" was also covered by Trudy Pitts on her debut album Introducing the Fabulous Trudy Pitts (1967), by the Doodletown Pipers on The Doodletown Pipers Sing-along '67 (1967) and by Jean-Jacques Perrey and Gershon Kingsley on Kaleidoscopic Vibrations: Spotlight on the Moog, also recorded in 1967. Julius Wechter himself, with his Baja Marimba Band, recorded the song on the 1971 album As Time Goes By.
In film and television
In addition to its use in The Dating Game, the song has been used in a variety of film and television soundtracks. It was one of two Alpert songs in a 1966 animated cartoon by John Hubley, A Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass Double Feature.
In the fingerprint scene in Rosewood's home in Beverly Hills Cop II, Eddie Murphy (playing Axel Foley) and Judge Reinhold (playing Billy Rosewood) improvised the idea of humming the tune. When Taggart (John Ashton) asks what the tune is, Rosewood replies, "The Dating Game!"
In the 1997 film Perdita Durango, the two main characters happily groove to the song while abducting two teenagers.
In American Pie 2, the band camp counselor plays the song on his trumpet.
The 1997-2001 Nickelodeon TV show The Angry Beavers had a theme song reminiscent of Spanish Flea.
In an episode of Supernatural, the song is played when a pair of demons call Crowley (the King of Hell) from a hunter's trap.