F16C Meets IL #2: The Banana Splits – Doin’ the Banana Split


Mr. Barry White says, “Come on up to my square.

It’s safe, sexy and I’m serving Banana Splits…”



Listen – Doin’ the Banana Split MP3″

Greetings all.

I hope the mid-week finds you well, at least well enough for a king size, cross blogged double dose of the Banana Splits.
That’s right, I said Banana Splits.
If you’re younger than I am, you may not have any idea who (or what) the Banana Splits were, but if you’re my age or older, the name Banana Splits conjures up memories of Saturday Morning fun, tinged with just a touch of psychedelic nostalgia.
The Banana Splits show ran from 1968 to 1970 (and was rerun sporadically afterward) on NBC, and followed the adventures of four characters in plush suits who just happened to live together and also had a band. No doubt conceived as a Monkees-manque for kids a touch too young to have enjoyed that TV show (just two years before*).
What viewers got was humans inside of giant stuffed animal suits (designed by Sid & Marty Krofft) of a dog (Fleegle), gorilla (Bingo), lion (Drooper) and elephant (Snorky), voiced – except for Snorky who was in the tradition of the late, great Marcel Marceau, silent – by some of the greatest voice talent of the day including Paul Winchell, Daws Butler and Allan Melvin.
The shows were filled with slapstick, lots of bright colors engineered to fry the synapses of 6 year olds, plenty of faux-mod trappings, and – the thing that brings up together today – music.
Now, those of you that come by Funky16Corners on the reg are probably sitting there with a question mark floating over your heads (cartoon style, natch..) wondering what the f*ck any of this has to do with funk, and or soul music (though I suspect there may be a wise few out there who already know what I’m up to…).
So, a few months back the Asbury Park 45 Sessions are underway, and the mighty MFasis is rocking the wheels of steel when (as is often the case) he dropped something especially hot and I had to trot on up to (in the words of the mighty Sonny Hopson) “see what’s the title to the label on the Burners table”.
It only took a glance at the spinning, banana-clad label to know what the deal was, but until I took a closer look (and maybe for a little while after that) I still couldn’t believe that what we were all grooving to was a Banana Splits record.
So, in the following weeks I started to troll the interwebs to find a copy of this particular record. I spotted one on Ebay, put in my bid and a few days later I was the proud owner of not one, but two Banana Splits EPs, both of which were originally sold as cereal premiums by the Kelloggs company. A week or so later a package shows up in the mailbox that sent a shiver down my crooked old record collector spine. The seller had “packed” the records in a soft envelope (NOOOOOOOO?!!?!?!?).
Well, as soon as I calmed down a bit, I steeled myself against the likely disappointment that undoubtedly awaited me as I opened the package. Fortunately, the records, though woefully overgraded (shame on you Ebay seller..) were miraculously intact.
I immediately spun the song that MFasis had played (‘Doin’ the Banana Split’) and had my three-year-old dancing in his seat. After I scanned the label, I was shocked….no stunned…no, both shocked and stunned to see that ‘Doin’ the Banana Split’ had been written by no less a talent than Barry White?!?!
Holy crap!
As it turns out, White wasn’t the only big name associated with the musical side of the Banana Splits, as Al Kooper and Gene Pitney also contributed to their “oeuvre”. While most of the other songs on the records were lightweight pop (with one exception, which you can hear over at Iron Leg), ‘Doin the Banana Split’ was an absolutely batshit slab of heavy, funky soul. I suppose the crafty thing to do would have been to post the tune “blind”and then spring the Banana Splits angle on you, but since there are probably about five of you out there who have any idea who/what the Banana Splits were, it probably wouldn’t have had the desired impact.
Though I’m not 100% positive, I believe White is actually playing (maybe singing) on ‘Doin’ the Banana Split’ which was recorded in between his years working on tracks for the Keen, Mustang and Bronco labels (with Viola Wills, the Versatiles and Felice Taylor among others) and his solo success.
That said, while ‘Doin’ the Banana Split’ is an anomaly in both the world of cartoon music and the Barry White discography (I don’t suspect much beautiful love was made while listening to this record), it is without a doubt a killer, and would probably be sought after if the name on the label wasn’t the Banana Splits.
Dig it.

*If memory serves, when the Banana Splits were on, the Monkees were being shown in reruns late on Saturday mornings (which is when I first saw them)

Remember to head over to Iron Leg for the fuzzed out side of the Splits!

12 Responses to “F16C Meets IL #2: The Banana Splits – Doin’ the Banana Split”

  1. Planet Mondo Says:

    Larry – You have no idea how long been after this fruity sizzler (I tried to record from VHS using minidisc and line out was the last time I tried to rip a version of it).

    But this is a double whammy – The Walrus of Love laying down the tunes for the banana bunch – incredible.

    Have you checked out you tube for some Sesame street clips – there must have been some ‘heads’ working on the show type in ‘Jazz Spies’ for modal nodes a go-go

    PS loving the Iron Leg postings – just to let you know last Monday was the 31st Anniversary of ‘New Rose’ by The Damned being released (the first UK punk single) I managed to grab a few words with the man that wrote it Brian James – its logged in the blog on Planet Mondo

  2. Steve M. Says:

    I remember the Banana Splits very well — primordial Saturday morning memories. If they went off the air in 1970, these must have reruns circa ’72 or ’73.

  3. funky16corners Says:

    I’m pretty sure that the Banana Splits were rerun for a while, as I recall seeing them long after the end of their first run.
    It was like when I got the HR Pufnstuf DVDs and discovered that their was only a single season of episodes, where I remembered seeing the show over several years.

  4. fleamarketfunk Says:

    uh oh…CHONGO! danger island was my shit, as well as those girl scouts that sang that acoustic jam. nice one larry. i have broken down and started to get some stuff off the dreaded (or is it?) e bay….i’ll e mail you the scores. i’m trying to stick to my price range, but you know how that goes. once again, cool side man.

  5. funky16corners Says:

    Yo Pres
    I know EXACTLY what you mean. Nothing in this life has proven more flexible than my “price limit” when it comes to vinyl….

  6. djack Says:

    Ah, Banana Splits.
    No Banana Splits, no Peewee’s Playhouse, I believe.

    I’ve got the theme song on one of the cardboard 45’s that you actually cut out of the back of the cereal box.

    Tra-la-la, tra-lala-la.

    Still sends me.

  7. sb Says:

    Larry, this is awesome!! Thank you for bringing back some good memories! I forgot all about this song.

    By the way, Snorky wasn’t silent. He communicated by honking his snout. So a more accurate comparison would be Harpo Marx.

  8. sb Says:

    P.S. It is amazing that this is a Barry White penned tune. I’m going to have fun stumping my friends with that bit of trivia. (Is it just me or does the singer sound like Edwin Starr?)

  9. funky16corners Says:

    You are correct. Harpo is a lot closer to the mark!

  10. eager beaver Says:

    oooh as a small boy I loved the Banana Splits, which was a staple of Saturday morning kids TV well into the early 1970s here in the UK.
    BTW there was a Splits album, as well, on Decca.
    greetings from Swinging London

  11. chefkoch Says:

    i love that Barry White-Song too and got the ep via ebay after i discovered the songs in the internet as i was searching for tv show-themes (the Al Kooper-number is good but not as good as this one). never saw the original show, but i remember the Dickies doing a “punk”-version of the title theme and there´s a really nice Cal Tjader-version too (rereleased by vampisoul). if you´re looking for unlikely sounds from well known artists you should may be look for late 6t´s/early 7t´s recordings by Chubby Checker (one lp in particular) – would fit fine into the psychedelic stuff over at iron leg.

  12. donna lethal Says:

    I have some lousier versions of this but thank you! Who knew about Mr. White? I also had a Banana Split flexi from the back of an Alpha-Bits box.

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