Mr. Bloe was the name given to the musicians who performed the single "Groovin' With Mr. Bloe", which was a hit in 1970 in the UK for Dick James Music (DJM). These included Harry Pitch or Ian Duck on harmonica, and Zack Laurence on piano.
The tune "Groovin' With Mr. Bloe" was written for the US studio group Wind, by Bo Gentry, Paul Naumann and Kenny Laguna. They released it as the B-side of their single "Make Believe" which, with Tony Orlando as lead singer, was a chart success in the US in 1969. According to co-writer Kenny Laguna:
"When "Make Believe", the first Wind single was ready to be released, we needed a B-side. Our Buddah releases were known for their ridiculous B-sides, like A-side played backwards in order for the business dudes to copyright something with themselves as writers, even though they couldn't write songs. We dusted off a backing track from a "Yummy Yummy", "Chewy Chewy", "Sugar Sugar", "Money Money" wannabe song that was called something like "Bingo Bingo" and improvised a haphazard harmonica and melodica overdub for the B-side...."
Success in the UK
BBC Radio in the UK then unwittingly played the wrong side of the Wind single. It was played by Jimmy Savile on his Sunday afternoon radio show Saviles Travels. It was heard by Stephen James, of Dick James Music, who wanted to release the tune in the UK but could not obtain the rights. He had the tune covered by other musicians including Elton John on piano, but did not like that version. It was then rearranged by Zack Laurence and re-recorded with Laurence replacing Elton John on piano.
The tune was released in the UK on 9 May 1970, reaching number 2 in the UK Singles Chart on 4 July 1970. Zack Laurence then performed the tune on Top of the Pops with Ian Duck (harmonica), Dee Murray (bass), Roger Pope (drums) and Caleb Quaye (guitar), who went on to form the band Hookfoot. Some sources credit the harmonica part on the actual recording to Harry Pitch which Pitch later confirmed in his filmed interview with RockHistory.co.uk - Pitch then went on as the harmonica player to perform the theme tune for Last of the Summer Wine. "Groovin' With Mr Bloe" spent 18 weeks on the UK chart. The lack of an obvious performer made the recording mysterious and it became a favourite of Morrissey who was then 11 years old.
The Mr. Bloe single also included two instrumentals written by Elton John — "Get Out Of This Town" and "71-75 New Oxford Street", with John playing piano on both, backed by most of the members of Hookfoot. Other singles, "Mr. Bloe" and "Curried Soul" were then released. The follow up single, "Curried Soul", failed to chart, and an album, also entitled Groovin' with Mr. Bloe, was released in 1970 but flopped, leaving the act as a one-hit wonder.
"Groovin' With Mr. Bloe" was used as the theme music to the 2009 BBC TV series, Oz and James Drink to Britain. It was also used in the early 1970s by Argentine television as the introduction music for football broadcasting.
"Groovin' With Mr. Bloe" is also a lyric in the song, "I Was a Mod Before You Was Mod", by the band Television Personalities. The B-side to Madness' "Our House" single was "Walking With Mr Wheeze", an instrumental with scratch mix effects. The song was partly recorded by The Fall in 2003, for a Peel session as the beginning of their song, "Green Eyed Loco Man". The tune was covered on a B-side by Associates in 1990, and Robert Johnson and the Punchdrunks in 2002.
- Claude Bernardin, Tom Stanton, "Mr. Bloe", Rocket man, p. 62, ISBN 978-0-275-95698-1
- Laguna Tunes: Liner notes. Retrieved 1 March 2013
- Roberts, David (2006), British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.), Guinness World Records Limited, p. 371, ISBN 1-904994-10-5
- Simon Goddard (2009), "Groovin' With Mr Bloe", Mozipedia, p. 150, ISBN 978-0-09-192709-7
- Harry Pitch, National Harmonica League
- RonnieFriend (22 February 2009). "Mr. Bloe with Elton John - "71-75 New Oxford Street" (1970)". YouTube. Retrieved 25 May 2018.
- Whitburn, Joel (2003). Top Pop Singles 1955-2002 (1st ed.). Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. p. 151. ISBN 0-89820-155-1.