I Was Kaiser Bill's Batman

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"I Was Kaiser Bill's Batman"
Single by Whistling Jack Smith
B-side "The British Grin and Bear"
Released 1967
Format 7" single
Genre Novelty
Length 2:22
Label Deram 45-DEM-85005
Writer(s) Roger Greenaway, Roger Cook

"I Was Kaiser Bill's Batman" was a hit single in 1967 composed by British songwriters Roger Cook and Roger Greenaway.[1] It was a novelty record, being performed mostly by whistling. The name Whistling Jack Smith, credited on the most commercially successful recording, was a play on the name of the baritone singer of the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s, Whispering Jack Smith.

The tune was written by Greenaway and Cook and was originally titled "Too Much Birdseed".[2] It was recorded as a single for Deram Records by record producer Noel Walker, using studio musicians together with the Mike Sammes Singers. The whistling on the record was, according to most sources, by John O'Neill, a trumpeter and singer with the Mike Sammes Singers who was also known for his whistling skills,[3][4] though other sources credit Noel Walker himself.[2] The song is noted for its false ending, where after the song ends its last chorus, a male voice shouts "Oi" (on the album version) and "Hey" (on the single version); the tune starts up again with the repeated chorus, and soon fades out.

Credited to Whistling Jack Smith, the record rose up the UK singles chart. When it was featured on Top of the Pops, an actor, Coby Wells (real name Billy Moeller, born 1946), who was the brother of Tommy Moeller, lead vocalist, guitarist, and pianist with Unit 4 + 2, was used to mime the whistling, and later toured as the public face of Whistling Jack Smith.[5][6] The recording reached #5 on the UK singles chart in 1967, staying in the chart for 12 weeks,[7] and peaked at #20 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S.[8]

Pat Boone did a whistling version of the song in 1967. A vocal version of the song, as "Ich war der Putzer vom Kaiser", was recorded in German by Die Travellers, in the late 1960s. The German lyrics were credited to Fred Oldörp, a member of the group.[9] The lyrics concern the batman, or Putzer ("cleaner") of the Kaiser, who evades combat because of his position. It has been suggested that the words derive from a First World War marching song, but this is unconfirmed.[10]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Paul Simpson, The rough guide to cult pop 
  2. ^ a b Artist Biography by arwulf arwulf, Allmusic.com. Retrieved 10 November 2015
  3. ^ Terry Rawlings, Then, now and rare British beat 1960-1969 
  4. ^ Whistling in the wind for a good tune, Western Daily Press, Oct 11, 2005 
  5. ^ "I Was Kaiser Bill’s Batman", DangerousMinds.net. Retrieved 23 August 2015
  6. ^ "I Was Kaiser Bill's Batman", Dustbury.com. Retrieved 23 August 2015
  7. ^ "WHISTLING JACK SMITH". www.officialcharts.com. Retrieved 23 August 2015. 
  8. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2003). Top Pop Singles 1955-2002 (1st ed.). Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. p. 654. ISBN 0-89820-155-1. 
  9. ^ "Ich war der Putzer vom Kaiser", Discogs.com. Retrieved 10 November 2015
  10. ^ "How old are the lyrics of Kaiser Bill's Batman / Ich War Der Putzer Vom Kaiser ?", Google Groups Retrieved 10 November 2015