Tom Hark

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"Tom Hark" was first featured as the theme tune to the television series The Killing Stones, and featured the ocarina, rather than a penny whistle,

"Tom Hark"
Single by Elias and His Zig-Zag Jive Flutes
Format10-inch 78 rpm & 7-inch 45 rpm records
Songwriter(s)Rupert Bopape

It is an instrumental kwela song written by Rupert Bopape (1925–2012), a South African musician, singer, and songwriter. The song was arranged for penny whistle and first recorded by Elias and His Zig-Zag Jive Flutes—a South African band led by pennywhistler "Big Voice Jack" Lerole—and released in 1958. It entered the UK charts at number 30 on 25 April 1958; on 24 May it reached number 2, and held that position for four weeks. In all, the song was in the UK charts for about 14 weeks.[1]


Recordings artists of various genres have covered the song, and some of them added original lyrics.

In the UK, Ted Heath and His Music released a cover of the song soon after the original in 1958. In 1962, English singer Jimmy Powell released a new version of the song with original lyrics. Jamaican singer-songwriter Millie Small covered Powell's version on her 1964 album My Boy Lollipop. That same year, Mickey Finn and the Blue Men released their own instrumental cover in the UK as a 7-inch single. The next year, Georgie Fame released a different arrangement of the song (with lyrics) on his 1965 album Fame at Last. Whistling Jack Smith whistled his cover on his 1967 album Around the World with Whistling Jack.

In the 1970s, instrumental versions of the song were recorded by Jumbo Sterling's All-Stars for their 1970 album Reggae Party; by Bert Kaempfert & His Orchestra for their 1977 album Safari Swings Again; and, in the UK circa 1979, by Captain Morgan & His Merry Men for a 12-inch reggae single.

When British punk band the Piranhas covered the song in 1980, they used new lyrics written by their frontman, "Boring" Bob Grover. The song peaked at number 6 on the UK Singles Chart, and was the band's most successful single.[2] It has since been adapted to football chants in Great Britain and Ireland.[3] South African band Mango Groove released a cover of the Piranhas' version of the song on their 1997 album Dance Sum More: All the Hits So Far. Jack Lerole, who co-founded Elias and His Zig-Zag Jive Flutes (the first band to record "Tom Hark"), was also a founding member of Mango Groove. However, he left Mango Groove several years before they recorded their cover of the song.

Other covers of "Tom Hark" can be found in such diverse albums as Freight Train (1993), a live album by British skiffle musician Chas McDevitt; The Dansan Sequence Collection, Volume 2 (1993), a Dixieland cover album by Bryan Smith & His Dixielanders; and Party Crazy (2000), a novelty album by Jive Bunny and the Mastermixers. The song can be heard in Instance Automatics claws Prize Circus and Maxx Grab Evolution


  1. ^ "Tom Hark Full Official Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 2 September 2016.
  2. ^ "Piranhas Full Official Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 2 September 2016.
  3. ^ Ridley, Jane (15 October 1999). "Second Chants; Eighties hit is No.1 with soccer fans". The Mirror. Retrieved 7 March 2019.