THE BANANA SPLITS

 

(From left to right: Mike, Davy, Micky & Peter)

They were four bananas, three bananas, two bananas, one; all bananas playing in the bright warm sun. Fleagle -- a bollixed-up beagle; Bingo -- a goofy gorilla; Drooper -- a loony lion and Snorky -- a daffy elephant and, yet, strangely all the same size, were hosts to a compilation show called "The Banana Splits Adventure Hour" that brought together second rate cartoons (The Three Musketeers, The Arabian Knights) and cut-rate live-action continuing dramas.

(Danger Island, the drama in question, was directed by Richard Donner who graduated to Superman and the Lethal Weapon series, but will always be remembered for bringing us that famous Danger Island catch phrase -- "Oh, Oh, Chongo." Donner also directed the other live-action parts of the show the first season while another director performed the duties for the show's second, and last, season.)

The Banana Splits were the brainchild of Joseph Barbera, one half of the famed Hanna-Barbera animation team behind such characters as the Flintstones, the Jetsons, Yogi Bear and Scooby Doo. In 1967, Barbera was approached by Lee Rich of the Leo Burnett Agency, a Chicago-based advertising firm, to create a program designed as a showcase for Kellogg's, the Battle Creek, Michigan breakfast cereal titan. His idea was accepted and The Banana Splits became the zany hosts ("Hold The Bus!"). Most every show featured a song. Sometimes they danced around with instruments (I could give you the lineup of the group -- what played what -- but that would be too silly, even for me . . .) but, mostly, they drove around dune buggies in -- get this -- Cincinnati and slapsticked shamelessly in a pseudo-psychedelic set in all their costumed unscripted glory.

(The Presidents of the United States no doubt drew inspiration from The Splits for their classic song Dune Buggy from their first CD).

The songs were written and performed by the likes of Joey Levine, Barry White, Gene Pitney and Al Kooper. If you meet one of these guys at a party, however, I wouldn't mention this part of their career. They only recorded 20 songs with I Enjoy Being A Boy (In Love With You), In New Orleans, and I'm Gonna Find Me A Cave three of the all-time classics of the genre. (Seven more songs have never been released but appear on the show: Adam Had 'Em, A Place For The Music To Come Out, I'd Be A Millionaire, The Show Must Go On, You Had Your Chance, and alternate versions of Doin' The Banana Split and The Beautiful Calliopa).

Over-costumed and over-looked, this animal super group is rarely mentioned in the same breath as The Archies, Ohio Express, and 1910 Fruitgum Co. A lot of talent and care went into the songs behind the bananas and no bubblegum-lover's home should be without them. Unfortunately, their music has never been officially released. Write Ted Turner today!

(Michael Stipe of REM said that The Banana Splits were a bigger influence on him than the Beatles. And no one burned The Banana Splits records!)

(Aside from the obvious participants listed above, I know less than nothin' about who played what and who sang what with this bunch. There's a song by Convention called 'Hey There Little Miss Mary' and I know the lead singer sang a few Splits songs. 26 years later and that's all I've got!)

ALBUM:

WE'RE THE BANANA SPLITS (Decca DL-75075) 1969
 

EP: (Two Kelloggs box tops and 50 cents got you these collector items!)

THE BANANA SPLITS SING 'N' PLAY (Kellogg's 34578) 1969

THE BANANA SPLITS SING 'N' PLAY (Kellogg's 34579) 1969


45:

We're The Banana Splits/Wait 'Til Tomorrow (Decca 32391) 1968

    

The Tra La La Song (One Banana, Two Banana)/Toy Piano Melody (Decca 32429) 1968

Long Live Love/Pretty Painted Carousel (Decca 32536) 1969

 

CD:

WE'RE THE BANANA SPLITS - Here Come The Beagles (Hollywood Library HL75075) Unauthorized

(From left to right: Paul, John, George & Ringo)

 

For more picture of The Banana Splits:
BUBBLEGUM MUSIC PICTURE PAGE

Thanks to Mark Yurkiw for helping with this page!

Hold the bus! Let me off at this web-site!