Mungo Jerry Biography

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Mungo Jerry - Ray Dorset (Raymond Edward Dorset, 21 March 1946, Ashford, Middlesex, England; vocals/guitar), Colin Earl (b. 6 May 1942, Hampton Court, Middlesex, England; piano/vocals), Paul King (banjo, jug, guitar, vocals) and Mike Cole (b. Michael Maurice Cole, 19 March 1943, Perivale, Middlesex, England; bass) - was a little-known skiffle-cum-jug band that achieved instant fame following a sensational appearance at 1970’s Hollywood Pop Festival, in Staffordshire, England, wherein they proved more popular than headliners the Grateful Dead, Traffic and Free. The band’s performance coincided with the release of their debut single, ‘In The Summertime’, and the attendant publicity, combined with the song’s nagging commerciality, resulted in a runaway smash. It topped the UK chart and, by the end of that year alone, global sales had totalled six million.

Despite an eight-month gap between releases, Mungo Jerry’s second single, ‘Baby Jump’, also reached number 1. By this time Mike Cole had been replaced by John Godfrey and their jug band sound had grown appreciably heavier. A third hit, in 1971, ‘Lady Rose’, showed a continued grasp of melody (the maxi-single also included the controversial ‘Have A Whiff On Me’ which was banned by the BBC). This successful year concluded with another Top 20 release, ‘You Don’t Have To Be In The Army To Fight In The War’.

Paul King and Colin Earl left the band in 1972 and together with percussionist Joe Rush (b. Joseph Rush, December 1940, England), an early member of Mungo Jerry, formed the King Earl Boogie Band. Dorset released a solo album, Cold Blue Excursions, prior to convening a new line-up with John Godfrey, Jon Pope (piano) and Tim Reeves (drums). The new line-up had another Top 3 hit in 1973 with ‘Alright Alright Alright’ (a reinterpretation of Jacques Dutronc’s ‘Et Moi, Et Moi, Et Moi’), but the following year the overtly sexist ‘Longlegged Woman Dressed In Black’ became the band’s final chart entry.

Dorset continued to work with various versions of his creation into the new millennium, but was never able to regain the band’s early profile. A short-lived collaboration with Peter Green and Vincent Crane under the name Katmundu resulted in the disappointing A Case For The Blues (1986), but Dorset did achieve further success when he produced ‘Feels Like I’m In Love’ for singer Kelly Marie. This former Mungo b-side became a UK number 1 in August 1980.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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