Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Colonel Bogey March

First recorded by The Band of HM Royal Marines, Plymouth Division (1914).
Most popular versions by Malcolm Arnold (as “The River Kwai March Theme” 1957), Mitch Miller (as “The River Kwai March/Colonel Bogey March” US #20 1957).

From the wiki: “The ‘Colonel Bogey March’ is a popular march written and first published in 1914 by Lieutenant F. J. Ricketts (under the pseudonym ‘Kenneth Alford’), a British Army bandmaster who later became the director of music for the Royal Marines at Plymouth. The first recording of the march was made in 1914 by the Second Batallion Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders. The tune was inspired by a military man and golfer who whistled a characteristic two-note phrase instead of shouting ‘Fore!’.

“‘Going round in bogey’, starting at the Great Yarmouth Golf Club in 1890, was based on the phrase ‘bogey man’. Nationally, in the UK, golfers competed against ‘Colonel Bogey’, and this gave the title to the 1914 marching tune, ‘Colonel Bogey March’. By Edwardian times, the ‘Colonel’ had been adopted by the golfing world internationally as the presiding spirit of the golf course. ‘Bogey’ is now the golfing term meaning ‘one over par’.

“At the start of World War II, the ‘Colonel Bogey March’ became part of British way of life when the melody was set to popular lyrics, ‘Hitler Has Only Got One Ball’, with the tune becoming an unofficial national anthem to rudeness. The ‘Colonel Bogey March’ melody was also used in the US for a song of the Women’s Army Corps (WAC), a branch of the U.S. Army from 1943 until its absorption into the regular Army in 1978. These lyrics, written by Major Dorothy E. Nielsen (USAR), were this: ‘Duty is calling you and me, we have a date with destiny, ready, the WACs are ready, their pulse is steady a world to set free. Service, we’re in it heart and soul, victory is our only goal, we love our country’s honor and we’ll defend it against any foe.’

“English composer Malcolm Arnold added a counter-march, ‘The River Kwai March’, for the 1957 dramatic World War II film The Bridge on the River Kwai. The two marches were recorded together by Mitch Miller as ‘March from the River Kwai/Colonel Bogey March’. Consequently, the ‘Colonel Bogey March’ is often mis-credited as ‘River Kwai March’. While Arnold did use Colonel Bogey in his score for the film, it was only the first theme and a bit of the second theme of Colonel Bogey, whistled unaccompanied by the British prisoners several times as they marched into the prison camp. Since the film portrayed prisoners of war held under inhumane conditions by the Japanese, there was a diplomatic row in May 1980, when a military band played ‘Colonel Bogey’ during a visit to Canada by Japanese prime minister Masayoshi Ōhira.”

Malcolm Arnold, “The River Kwai March Theme” from The Bridge Over the River Kwai (1957):

Mitch Miller, “The River Kwai March/Colonel Bogey March” (1957):

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