Grazing in the Grass

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"Grazing in the Grass"
Single by Hugh Masekela
from the album The Promise of a Future
B-side "Bajabula Bonke (Healing Song)"
Released May 1968
Format 7"
Recorded March 12, 1968
Genre Jazz
Length 2:38
Label Uni, (55066)
Writer(s) Philemon Hou
Producer(s) Stewart Levine
Certification Gold
Hugh Masekela singles chronology
"There Are Seeds to Sow" "Grazing in the Grass"
"Puffin' on Down the Track"

"Grazing in the Grass" is an instrumental composed by Philemon Hou and first recorded by the South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela. Released in the United States as a single in 1968, it hit no. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart,[1] ranking it as the 18th biggest hit of the year.[2]

The title phrase was rumoured[when?] to be a synonym for the practice of smoking marijuana, one of whose nicknames is "grass."


"Grazing in the Grass" was inspired by an earlier Masekela recording, "Mr. Bull No. 5". Hou, an actor and singer, came up with the melody while the backing track was already being recorded. The session was held at Gold Star Studios in Hollywood.[3]



Chart (1968) Peak
US Billboard Hot 100 1

The Friends of Distinction version[edit]

"Grazing in the Grass"
Single by The Friends of Distinction
from the album Grazin'
B-side "I Really Hope You Do"
Released May 1969
Format Vinyl 7", 45 RPM, 8-track
Recorded 1969
Genre Pop, R&B, psychedelic soul
Length 2:52
Label RCA Victor
Writer(s) Philemon Hou, Harry Elston
Producer(s) John Florez
The Friends of Distinction singles chronology
"Grazing in the Grass'"
"Going in Circles"

The Friends of Distinction recorded a vocal cover version of the tune in 1969 on RCA Victor, which was also a Top Ten pop and R&B hit, reaching no. 3 on the former and no. 5 on the latter.[5] One of the group's members, Harry Elston, wrote lyrics for the song and sang lead on the Friends Of Distinction's version of it.


  • The Friends of Distinction - vocals
  • Max Bennett - electric bass
  • Johnny Guthrie - drums
  • Al Casey and Arthur Wright - guitars
  • Gene Cipriano - piccolo flute
  • John Audino, Anthony Terran, Bud Childers, Dalton Smith - trumpets
  • King Efferson - congas
  • Douglas Davis - cello
  • Jim Horn - tenor saxophone,
  • Garry Nuttycombe - viola
  • Harry Bluestone, Jimmy Getzoff - violins
  • Jack Arnold - percussion
  • Larry Knechtel - piano

Chart performance[edit]

Other cover versions[edit]

"Grazing in the Grass"
Single by Raven-Symoné
from the album The Lion King 1½ and
This Is My Time
Released 2004
Genre R&B, dance-pop, soul
Length 3:08
Label Hollywood
Writer(s) Philemon Hou, Harry Elston
Producer(s) Robbie Buchanan
Raven-Symoné singles chronology
"With a Child's Heart"
"Grazing in the Grass"

"Grazing in the Grass" has been recorded by many other musicians, including Stevie Wonder (on his 1968 album Eivets Rednow), Chet Atkins, Galapagos Duck, Boney James, Rick Braun, Larry Harlow, Willie Mitchell, The Monitors, The Scofflaws, Meco, and cc: DIVA.

In 2004, the song was covered by Raven-Symoné; her version was played on Radio Disney, but it never received a general commercial release as a single for airplay in other venues. The video for her version features her and dancing extras interacting with scenes from The Lion King 1½.

It is also a staple in the repertoire of New Orleans brass bands.

"Grazing in the Grass" was sampled by the hip hop duo Nice & Smooth on the track "One, Two and One More Makes Three" from their album Ain't a Damn Thing Changed.

A sample of the song can be heard in Sugar Ray's 1999 single "Every Morning," from its album 14:59.

The jazz saxophonist George Howard did an upbeat version of "Grazing in the Grass" on his album When Summer Comes in 1993.

Appearances in other media[edit]


Preceded by
"This Guy's in Love with You" by Herb Alpert
Billboard Hot 100 number one single
(Hugh Masekela version)

July 20, 1968 – August 3, 1968 (two weeks)
Succeeded by
"Hello, I Love You" by The Doors
Preceded by
"I Could Never Love Another (After Loving You)" by The Temptations
Billboard Hot R&B Singles number-one single
July 13, 1968 – August 3, 1968 (four weeks)
Succeeded by
"Stay in My Corner" by The Dells