Mungo Jerry is a British rock group whose greatest success was in the early 1970s, though they have continued throughout the years with an ever-changing line-up, always fronted by Ray Dorset. They are remembered above all for their hit "In the Summertime". It remains their most successful and most instantly recognisable song, and their only hit outside of the UK. Their name was inspired by the poem "Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer", from T. S. Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats. According to Joseph Murrell's The Book of Golden Discs (1978), "Mungomania" was possibly the most startling and unpredicted pop phenomenon to hit Britain since The Beatles.
Formation and original band: 1970-71:
Dorset and Colin Earl had previously been members of The Good Earth. Soon after recruiting Paul King and Mike Cole, they made their national debut at the Hollywood Festival at Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire in May 1970, the week their first single, "In the Summertime" was released. They stole the show and the record topped the UK Singles Chart for seven weeks, made number one in 26 countries around the world, and to date has sold around 30 million copies. Mungo Jerry made their first trip to the United States in September 1970. After John Godfrey replaced Cole, their second single "Baby Jump" also topped the UK chart in March 1971. A third hit, "Lady Rose" (also in 1971), gave the group the image as a band for producing summertime based hits.
Mungo Jerry was awarded from Melody Maker the 'best new band' title in 1970, and as one of the five best live bands in the world in 1971. Dorset was granted three Ivor Novello Awards as a composer.
Line-up changes and side-projects: 1972-1980s:
In time Dorset found the group's good-time blues and jug band repertoire a little restricting, and in 1972 he released a solo album Cold Blue Excursion, with his songs backed by strings and brass and, in one instance, a jazz band. His intention to broaden the group's appeal by recruiting a drummer led to King and Earl trying to sack him, but the management, regarding Dorset as inseparable in the public eye from Mungo Jerry, fired them both instead. Dorset and Godfrey, the bassist, recruited new members and presented a new sound, heard on the fourth album Boot Power. Colin Earl and Paul King went on to form The King Earl Band and recorded an album at Richard Branson's Manor Studios called Trouble at Mill. They played together on and off in the years following and ended up with a band called Skeleton Crew.
Mungo Jerry's hits continued through to 1976 with "Open Up" (Top Twenty in Europe); "Alright Alright Alright" (a rewrite of an old French hit for Jacques Dutronc, and again a major hit worldwide reaching the Top 3 in the UK); "Wild Love"; "Long Legged Woman Dressed in Black"; "Hello Nadine" (European hit and Top Five in Canada); and "It's a Secret" (European hit). You Don't Have to Be in the Army to Fight in the War" gave Mungo Jerry another hit.
In 1975 Earl, who had played piano with Foghat in between, returned to play keyboards, and percussion player Joe Rush, part-time member of the band in earlier days, also came back for a while. The group's line-up continued to change. Among those who have played with them are bassist Bob Daisley, drummers Dave Bidwell, Paul Hancox and Boris Williams, guitarist Dick Middleton, keyboard player Sev Lewkowicz, and keyboard/accordion player Steve Jones. They have remained particularly popular throughout Europe. Mungo Jerry was the first western band to have live television gigs in all countries behind the Iron Curtain.
In 1980 another Dorset song, "Feels Like I'm in Love", originally written for Elvis Presley, and recorded by the band as a B side of a single, became a British number one hit for Kelly Marie. They remained successful with overseas hits like "On A Night Like This", "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" (a reggae version of the Bob Dylan song) and "Sunshine Reggae" (British version by Mungo Jerry & Horizon).
In 1983 Dorset was part of the blues super-group Katmandu, which recorded A Case For The Blues, with guitarist Peter Green, formerly of Fleetwood Mac, and keyboard player Vincent Crane, formerly of Atomic Rooster and The Crazy World of Arthur Brown.
Occasional appearances and comebacks: 1990s-2000s:
Mungo Jerry remained somewhat inactive until 1995 when "In the Summertime" was recorded by reggae vocalist Shaggy, who topped the charts worldwide. The last UK chart entry for Mungo Jerry was "Toon Army" a song for Newcastle United in 1999.
In 2003, with German musicians, Dorset recorded the Adults Only album under the name Mungo Jerry Blues Band. 2005 saw him performing with three Mungo Jerry line-ups: The British Mungo Jerry Band (pop/rock), the German Mungo Jerry Blues Band (blues/rock), and Mungo Jerry & the Goodtime Gamblers (jug/blues/skiffle).
Also in June 2005, Ray Dorset had a gig again as a duo with Mike Cole - the original double bass player from the early Mungo days - as a highlight of the "35 Years Of Mungo Jerry" event in both Newcastle and Stoke.
In March 2006, Mungo Jerry released the single "Mr Midnight" from Phantom of the Opera on Ice; produced by Roberto Danova. The Mungo Jerry Ray Dorset was part of the "British Blues-Allstars-Tour" as singer and guitar-player, performing together with Long John Baldry, Spencer Davis, Pete York and Colin Hodgkinson.
2007 saw the release of two albums. Naked -- From The Heart was recorded in an analogue studio to recreate the sound of the early Mungo years. Dorset recorded the songs together with original bass player Mike Cole, with Bruce Brand playing percussion and piano. The second release in the end of the same year was the second LP from the Mungo Jerry Bluesband, called When She Comes, She Runs All Over Me.
Between 2008 and 2011, Mungo Jerry performed at various European blues and jazz festivals. In 2010, a re-recording of "In The Summertime" - to celebrate its 40th anniversary was recorded by Mungo Jerry and Bluestone featuring MC Skibadee. It reached the Top Twenty in the UK Dance Chart. In 2012, Mungo Jerry released Cool Jesus and the single "Give Us a Song".
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Ray Dorset - vocals, guitars (original member),
Jon Playle - bass,
Mark David - drums,
Toby Hounsham - keyboards,
Colin Earl - piano (original member),
Mike Cole - bass (original member),
Paul King - banjo, jug (original member),
Paul Raymond - keyboards, guitars,
Jon Pope - keyboards,
Chris Garrett - keyboards, guitar,
Ian Milne - piano,
Sev Lewkowicz - keyboards,
Byron Contostavlos - bass ,
Jon Storey - Guitars,
John Godfrey - bass,
Bob Daisley - bass,
Chrissie Stewart - bass,
John Bisset - organ,
James Matthews - bass,
Ray Davies - bass,
Anthony "Bizz" Bissiker - recorder, backing vocals,
Steve Jones - keyboards, accordion,
Alan Johnson - guitars, banjo,
Dick Middleton - guitars,
Dave Mitchell - guitars,
Joe Rush - percussion,
Bruce Brand - percussion, jug,
Tim Reeves - drums,
Paul Hancox - drums,
Eric Dillon - drums,
James Davis - drums,
Dave Bidwell - drums,
Boris Williams - drums,
Glen Lee - drums,
Mick Frampton - guitars, bass,
Les Calvert - bass,
John Wren - drums,
Nick Wren - keyboards,