The Candy Man

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"The Candy Man"
The Candy Man Sammy Davis Jr.jpg
Single by Sammy Davis, Jr.
from the album Sammy Davis Jr. Now
B-side "I Want to Be Happy"
Released April 1972
Format 7"
Recorded 1971
Genre Vocal jazz, swing, traditional pop
Length 3:10
Label MGM
Songwriter(s) Leslie Bricusse, Anthony Newley
Producer(s) Don Costa, Michael Viner, Mike Curb
Sammy Davis, Jr. singles chronology
"I Have One but One Life to Live"
"The Candy Man"
"The People Tree"
"I Have One but One Life to Live"
"The Candy Man"
"The People Tree"

"The Candy Man" (or alternatively, "The Candy Man Can") is a song which originally appeared in the 1971 film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.[1] It was written by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley specifically for the film. Although the original book by Roald Dahl (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) contains lyrics adapted for other songs in the film, the lyrics to "The Candy Man" do not appear in the book. The soundtrack version of the song was sung by Aubrey Woods, who played Bill the candy store owner in the film.

Attempt at replacing Woods' vocal[edit]

Lyricist Anthony Newley has said in interviews that upon hearing Woods' rendition for the first time, he was appalled at the lack of commerciality in the performance — worrying that it would possibly be depriving the duo of not only a hit record but an Oscar nomination as well.

Newley's distaste for the performance became so intense that he was willing to forego his own performance fee if he were to be allowed to re-arrange and re-record the song himself, and pay for the session as well.

When this was denied by producer David Wolper due to contractual stipulations by film composer Walter Scharf, Newley tried another tactic — lobbying to be allowed to at least re-dub his own vocal, possibly becoming the ghost voice for Woods; however, Woods' contract forbade that as well.

Sammy Davis, Jr. version[edit]

The song is best known through Sammy Davis, Jr.'s version, which appears on the Sammy Davis Jr. Now album. Though Davis admitted to disliking the song, finding it too saccharine, it became his only number-one hit, spending three weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart starting June 10, 1972, and two weeks at the top of the easy-listening chart.[2] Billboard ranked it as the No. 5 song for 1972. The track featured backing vocals by the Mike Curb Congregation, who had earlier released their own unsuccessful version of the song. It is recognized as one of Davis's signature songs, and "The Candy Man" came to be his moniker later in his career.

In the 1980s, the tune was adapted as a commercial jingle ("The Sunshine Baker Man", sung by Davis) for Sunshine Biscuits.

Sloppy Seconds included a cover of the song on their 1989 LP Destroyed.

In 2014, Sammy Davis Jr.'s lead vocals from the original 1972 recording were sampled to create a "virtual duet" with singer Barry Manilow, which appeared on Manilow's album My Dream Duets.

Chart history[edit]

Other uses[edit]

  • "The Candy Man" has been featured in a number of radio, films and TV shows, like Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, sung by the candy man
  • Jennifer Tilly's character, Monica Moran, sings the song in an audition to be a lounge singer in the film The Fabulous Baker Boys.
  • Chris Evans originally played the song on his popular drive time BBC Radio 2 show every Friday afternoon. Once he replaced Terry Wogan on the breakfast show in January 2010, he has continued to play the tune every Friday morning, immediately following the 8:00 am news. The song was also used on a TV trailer, promoting his new breakfast show.
  • Danny Baker used the song extensively as a theme during his breakfast show for BBC London 94.9. He would reward listeners who phoned into the show and greeted him as Candy Man. During his time on the show he amassed a large number of existing versions of the song and commissioned guests such as Ray Gelato to produce new versions. He continued to use the song as a theme tune for his afternoon show on BBC London 94.9 until its cancellation.
  • In an episode of My Name Is Earl (season 1, episode 24), Randy Hickey finds a coin in a drain, which is accompanied by an instrumental rendition of The Candy Man.
  • On Krayzie Bone's 1999 album Thug Mentality 1999, he uses the melody and meter of "Candy Man" for the intro to the song "Dummy Man".
  • Comedian Tim Hawkins released a parody of the song entitled "the Government Can" in 2009.[10] The video for the song went viral and has garnered over 5.7 million hits on YouTube.[11]
  • M&M Mars used the song from time to time as a jingle for "The M&M's Man". EDM artist Zedd later released his single "Candyman", which samples the original song, to commemorate the 75th anniversary of M&M's candy.[12] An M&M's ad featuring the song shows Red and Yellow trying to remix the "M&M's Man" jingle with help from Zedd and Aloe Blacc.
  • In an episode of We Bare Bears, Panda sings a parody of the song called "Girl Be Selling Sunshine" after he falls in love with a girl that saves him from a peanut allergy.
  • In an episode of Malcolm in the Middle entitled "New Neighbours," Commandant Spangler makes the cadets sing the song in order to impress his hero, Oliver North.
  • The Kidsongs singers sing this song on their 1987 video: "What I Want to Be".
  • In the Dreamworks Animation movie Madagascar, the song was used twice - the first was in normal speed when Alex the lion got tranquilized at Grand Central Station, then it played again in a very fast speed when he got tranquilized again before being boxed up.
  • A company called Launa Windows, based in Devon, England, used the song to advertise their company on UK television in the early 2000s. Using the same melody but with new lyrics including the most memorable part "Who can fix your windows, make your home secure? The Launa Man can" [13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Deaton, Jim. I Didn't Know That. ISBN 978-1591136996. Retrieved 2013-07-26. 
  2. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961-2001. Record Research. p. 72. 
  3. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Retrieved 2017-04-23. 
  4. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Retrieved 2017-04-23. 
  5. ^ Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955-1990 - ISBN 0-89820-089-X
  6. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961-2001. Record Research. p. 72. 
  7. ^ Cash Box Top 100 Singles, June 10, 1972
  8. ^
  9. ^ Cash Box Year-End Charts: Top 100 Pop Singles, December 30, 1972
  10. ^ "The Government Can Lyrics". Retrieved 2013-07-26. 
  11. ^ "Tim Hawkins – The Government Can". Tim Hawkins. Retrieved 2013-07-26. 
  12. ^ "Zedd and Aloe Blacc Put an Unexpected Spin on "Candyman"". Complex. Retrieved 2016-02-27. 
  13. ^ "Launa Man 2001 Television Advert"". Youtube. Retrieved 2017-05-20.