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)"
ReleasedMay 1968
RecordedMarch 12, 1968
LabelUni (55066)
Songwriter(s)Philemon Hou
Producer(s)Stewart Levine
Hugh Masekela singles chronology
"There Are Seeds to Sow"
"Grazing in the Grass"
"Puffin' on Down the Track"
Music video
"Grazing In The Grass" on YouTube

"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 followed United States trumpeter Herb Alpert's vocal performance of "This Guy's in Love with You" to the top spot on the Hot 100 chart,[1] ranking it as the 18th biggest hit of the year.[2] The song also reached No. 15 Adult Contemporary.[3] Masekela included the song in his albums Grazing in the Grass: The Best of Hugh Masekela (2001), Still Grazing (2004), and Live at the Market Theatre (2006).

Masekela's recording was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2018.[4]

A vocal version by The Friends of Distinction, with lyrics by band member Harry Elston, was a US chart hit in 1969. "Grazing in the Grass" has been recorded by many other musicians.

Hugh Masekela recording[edit]

The music was inspired by an earlier novelty recording, "Mr. Bull No. 4", by Freddie Gumbi,[5] which Masekela had heard in Zambia, that started with a cowbell. When Masekela was recording his debut album, the running order was short by three minutes and his record company suggested he add the tune. Philemon Hou, an actor and singer who was present in the studio, came up with a new melody while the backing track was already being recorded.[6] The session was held at Gold Star Studios in Hollywood.[7]



Chart (1968) Peak
US Billboard Hot 100 1

The Friends of Distinction version[edit]

"Grazing in the Grass"
Side A of the US single
Single by The Friends of Distinction
from the album Grazin'
B-side"I Really Hope You Do"
ReleasedMarch 1969
LabelRCA Victor
  • Philemon Hou
  • Harry Elston
Producer(s)John Florez
The Friends of Distinction singles chronology
"Grazing in the Grass"
"Going in Circles"
Music video
"Grazing in the Grass" on YouTube

The Friends of Distinction recorded a vocal remake 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 #5 on the latter.[9] One of the group's members, Harry Elston, wrote lyrics for their version and sang lead vocals.



The Friends of Distinction performed the song on The Ed Sullivan Show on December 27, 1970[10] and appeared in a cameo section of Season Episode 8 of the adult animated sitcom Family Guy.[citation needed] Their version also used in a 2023 TV commercial for Airbnb.[citation needed] A cover by Raven is featured in the end credits of the animated film The Lion King 1½.[citation needed]

Chart performance[edit]

Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (1969) Peak
Canada RPM Top Singles[11] 5
U.S. Billboard Hot 100[12] 3
U.S. Billboard Hot Soul/R&B Singles[13] 5
U.S. Cash Box Top 100[14] 6

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (1969) Rank
Canada[15] 62
U.S. Billboard Hot 100[16] 17
U.S. R&B (Billboard)[13] 42
U.S. Cash Box Top 100[17] 59


  1. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942–2004. Record Research. p. 380.
  2. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1968/Top 100 Songs of 1968". Retrieved February 11, 2016.
  3. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1993). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961–1993. Record Research. p. 154.
  4. ^ "Meet The GRAMMY Hall Of Fame Class Of 2018". 16 January 2018. Retrieved February 14, 2018.
  5. ^ "Grazing grooves", Song Curio, January 23, 2020. Retrieved 18 August 2021
  6. ^ "The Friends Of Distinction: Grazing In The Grass & Going In Circles". June 10, 2020.
  7. ^ Bronson, Fred; Adam White (1993). The Billboard Book of Number One Rhythm & Blues Hits. Billboard Books. p. 49.
  8. ^ Payne, Douglas. "Hugh Masekela Discography 1955–1969". Retrieved August 12, 2009.
  9. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942–2004. Record Research. p. 215.
  10. ^ "The Friends Of Distinction "Grazing In The Grass" on The Ed Sullivan Show". Retrieved 21 September 2023 – via
  11. ^ "Image : RPM Weekly – Library and Archives Canada". 17 July 2013. Retrieved 2016-10-02.
  12. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top 40 Hits: 1955–2009. Record Research. p. 256.
  13. ^ a b "1969: The Top 100 Soul/R&B Singles". Rate Your Music. Archived from the original on 2016-11-12. Retrieved 2016-10-02.
  14. ^ "Top 100 1969-06-21". Cashbox Magazine. Retrieved 2016-07-24.
  15. ^ "Item Display – RPM – Library and Archives Canada". Retrieved 2016-10-02.
  16. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1969/Top 100 Songs of 1969". Retrieved 2016-10-02.
  17. ^ "Top 100 Year End Charts: 1969". Cashbox Magazine. Retrieved 2016-05-20.

External links[edit]