The Barron Knights
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|The Barron Knights|
|Origin||Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire, England|
|Genres||Pop, rock, comedy, novelty song|
|Past members||Duke D'Mond
Although the Barron Knights undoubtedly had their own style and produced regular 'beat group' recordings in their own right, it was their production of humorous parodies that brought them the greatest success. In fact, their catalogue of recordings – although large – does not reflect their success as stage entertainers. By adapting their act to each new wave of emerging performers they were able to survive longer than their more conventional contemporaries, and even today can still be regularly found in cabaret or performing a seaside summer season.
They started out as a straight pop group, and spent a couple of years touring and playing in English dance halls before making their way to Hamburg, Germany. Bill Wyman, later of the Rolling Stones, has written that the Barron Knights were the first group he saw with an electric bass, at a performance in Aylesbury in July 1961, inspiring him to take up the instrument. In 1963, at the invitation of Brian Epstein, they were one of the support acts on The Beatles' Christmas shows at the Finsbury Park Astoria in London, and later became one of the few acts to tour with both the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.
They first came to fame in 1964 with the number "Call Up the Groups" (Parts 1 and 2). It overcame copyright restrictions and parodied a number of the leading pop groups of the time including the Searchers, Freddie and the Dreamers, the Dave Clark Five, the Bachelors, the Rolling Stones, and the Beatles. The song imagined the various artists singing about being conscripted, or "called up" into the British Army, although actual conscription had ended in 1960. The single climbed to number 3 in the UK Singles Chart. As an example, the song "Bits and Pieces" by The Dave Clark Five was parodied as "Boots and Blisters". They then followed this parody theme with two more hit singles "Pop Go the Workers" (1965) and "Merrie Gentle Pops" (1966), while continuing to work the cabaret circuit, as they do internationally to this day.
In 1967 the group released the single "Lazy Fat People", a satirical song written by Pete Townshend of The Who. In 1974 they toured South Africa with Petula Clark. By 1977 CBS Records had signed the group, bringing a resurgence in popularity, with "Live in Trouble" reaching number 7 in the UK Singles Chart. It was their first hit for over nine years. "Angelo" was just one song parodied on "Live in Trouble". Their 1978 release "A Taste of Aggro", which parodied "Rivers of Babylon", "Matchstalk Men and Matchstalk Cats and Dogs" and "The Smurf Song", became the group's biggest hit with sales of over one million, reaching number 3 in the UK chart.
They achieved four other UK hit singles in the 1960s and 1970s but their only U.S. Billboard Hot 100 charted single, "The Topical Song", was another comedic parody written by the American poet Robert Spring White. Based upon Supertramp's "The Logical Song", White, who also took the 1980 American Song Festival award in the folk category for "Where Does The River Go", confined his humorous lyric compositions for the Barron Knights.
The group also produced Christmas specials on Channel 4 Television in 1983 and 1984 which continued to be repeated throughout the decade, a mix of sketched and songs with a comedy backbone for which the group brought in comedy writer Barry Faulkner (Grumbleweeds, Tom O'Connor, Week Ending, Russ Abbot's Madhouse) to write sketches and links. In 1986, they sang a parody of the Jimmy Dean song "Big Bad John", called "Big Bad Bond". It was a tongue-in-cheek reference to the Australian entrepreneur Alan Bond and his involvement in Australia's victory in the 1983 America's Cup. The single was released by WEA, and had "The Loan Arranger" on the B-side, both taken from their album California Girls.
As of 2013[update] the group continue to perform for a worldwide audience in a lineup featuring only Pete Langford from the original line-up. The Barron Knights' original lead singer, Duke D'Mond, died on 9 April 2009.
Original band member details
- Duke D'Mond (born Richard Edward Palmer, 25 February 1943, Dunstable, Bedfordshire, England, died 9 April 2009, Oxford ) – vocalist
- Barron Anthony (born Anthony John Osmond, 15 June 1934, RAF Abingdon, Abingdon, Oxfordshire, England) – bassist, vocalist
- Butch Baker (born Leslie John Baker, 16 July 1941, Amersham, Buckinghamshire, England) – lead guitarist, vocalist (replaced Juj Hopkins)
- Peter 'Peanut' Langford (born 10 April 1943, Durham, County Durham, England) – rhythm guitarist, vocalist
- Dave Ballinger (born David Alan Ballinger, 17 January 1939, Slough, Buckinghamshire, England) – drummer
UK singles chart hits
- "Call Up the Groups" (1964) Number 3 – Columbia
- "Come to the Dance" (1964) Number 42 – Columbia
- "Pop Go the Workers" (1965) Number 5 – Columbia
- "Merry Gentle Pops" (1965) Number 9 – Columbia
- "Under New Management" (1966) Number 15 – Columbia
- "An Olympic Record" (1968) Number 35 – Columbia
- "Live in Trouble" (1977) Number 7 – Epic
- "A Taste of Aggro" (1978) Number 3 – Epic
- "Food for Thought" (1979) Number 46 – Epic
- "The Topical Song" (1979) (U.S. Number 70)
- "The Sit Song" (1980) Number 44 – parodying dog trainer Barbara Woodhouse – Epic
- "Never Mind the Presents" (1980) Number 17 – Epic
- "Blackboard Jumble" (1981) Number 52 – CBS
- "Buffalo Bill's Last Scratch" (1983) Number 49 – Epic
UK albums chart hits
- Night Gallery (1978) Number 15 – Epic
- Teach the World to Laugh (1979) Number 51 – Epic
- Jesta Giggle (1980) Number 45 – Epic
- Larkin C 'Virgin Encyclopedia of Sixties Music' (Muze UK Ltd, 1997) ISBN 0-7535-0149-X) p32
- "45-rpm.org.uk". 45-rpm.org.uk. Retrieved 2010-05-22.
- Bill Wyman and Richard Havers, Bill Wyman's Blues Odyssey, Dorling Kindersley, 2001, ISBN 0-7513-3442-1, p.320
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 43. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- "Barron Knights official fansite". Barronknights.com. 2007-08-16. Retrieved 2010-05-22.
- "Barron Knights parody". listology.com. 2008-01-25. Retrieved 2010-05-22.
- "The Barron Knights – Live In Trouble". Chart Stats. 1977-10-29. Retrieved 2010-05-22.