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The song is best known from an instrumental version by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, released as a B-side to the single "What Now My Love" and on their 1965 album Going Places. The album was a No. 1 hit in the U.S. and the single peaked at #27 on the Billboard Hot 100, with its A-side reaching No. 24 and gaining a Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental. "Spanish Flea" featured Alpert's trumpet over a Latin rhythm backing.
"Spanish Flea" was also covered by Trudy Pitts on her debut album Introducing the Fabulous Trudy Pitts (1967), by the Doodletown Pipers on The Doodletown Pipers Sing-along '67 (1967) and by Jean-Jacques Perrey and Gershon Kingsley on Kaleidoscopic Vibrations: Spotlight on the Moog, also recorded in 1967. Julius Wechter himself, with his Baja Marimba Band, recorded the song on the 1971 album As Time Goes By.
The Glenn Miller Orchestra did a rendition of the song as the last track on the album "Something New: The Glenn Miller Orchestra plays the Tijuana Brass" (1966)
Allan Sherman did a parody of this song on his album Togetherness (1967). Another parodic cover version, spoofing Alpert's version, appeared on the mock Alpert tribute album Sour Cream & Other Delights by the Frivolous Five.
In film and television
In addition to its use in The Dating Game, the song has been used in a variety of film and television soundtracks. It was one of two Alpert songs in a 1966 animated cartoon by John Hubley, A Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass Double Feature.
In the fingerprint scene in Rosewood's home in Beverly Hills Cop II, Eddie Murphy (playing Axel Foley) and Judge Reinhold (playing Billy Rosewood) improvised the idea of humming the tune. When Taggart (John Ashton) asks what the tune is, Rosewood replies, "The Dating Game!"
In the 1997 film Perdita Durango, the two main characters happily groove to the song while abducting two teenagers.
The 1997-2001 Nickelodeon TV show The Angry Beavers had a theme song reminiscent of "Spanish Flea".
In an episode of Supernatural, the song is played when a pair of demons call Crowley (the King of Hell) from a hunter's trap.
The song acts as the opening and closing music to the Fangraphs audio podcast, hosted by Carson Cistulli and it had been used as a YTP source as well as the closing music for Low Limit Futbol hosted by Joe Uccello, Ben The Machine Agombar, Mike Orr and Roberto Rojas. It was mashed up with American rapper Snoop Dogg's "Drop It Like It's Hot" on YouTube.
- Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles