Every year on January 28th, the country celebrates National Kazoo Day! What kid didn’t have a kazoo growing up? I know I had quite a few.
Why are kazoos so fun? It’s the musical instrument for those who can’t “play” a musical instrument! All you need to be able to do is hum, and you are playing the kazoo. According to Wikipedia: Players can produce different sounds by singing specific syllables such as doo, ‘’too’’, who, rrrrr or brrr into the kazoo.
This made me think about hit songs that featured a kazoo. I came up with a few:
- Joanie Sommers’ 1962 hit “Johnny Get Angry” features an instrumental break with an ensemble of kazoos.
- Also in 1962, Jessie Fuller’s “San Francisco Bay Blues” has a kazoo solo. Eric Clapton’s version of the song for his 1992 “Unplugged” special also featured a kazoo.
- In 1968, Pink Floyd featured a kazoo on “Jugband Blues.”
I also discovered that in 1978, a group calling themselves “The Temple City Kazoo Orchestra” put out an album entitled, “Some Kazoos,” which featured versions of Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love,” The Bee Gee’s “Stayin’ Alive,” and The Rolling Stones’ “Miss You.”
What #1 song featured a kazoo (or at least something that sounds like a kazoo)? Ringo Starr’s 1973 cover of the Johnny Burnette song, “You’re Sixteen.”
According to songfacts.com: Ringo got a lot of help on his solo efforts, and on this track, Harry Nilsson sang backup and Paul McCartney made the noise that sounds like a kazoo (producer Richard Perry said he was singing; the album credits him for “vocal sax solo”).
Wikipedia also questions the “kazoo”: Although McCartney is credited on the liner notes of the album Ringo as having played the solo on a kazoo, reviewer Michael Verity has quoted the song’s producer Richard Perry as revealing that it wasn’t actually a kazoo: “In fact, the solo on ‘You’re Sixteen,’ which sounds like a kazoo or something, was Paul singing very spontaneously as we played that track back, so he’s singing the solo on that.” Starr’s version remains one of the few No. 1 singles to feature a ‘kazoo-sound’ solo.
Here it is. You decide if it is a kazoo….
The 1973 music video for the song featured Carrie Fisher!! Here’s it is:
The other song that stands out with a kazoo solo belongs to Weird Al Yankovic in his amazing parody of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” The video is yet another example of Al’s ability to not only parody the song, but the video for the song. Listen for the kazoo in “Smells Like Nirvana”…
What other songs can you think of that feature the kazoo?
Happy National Kazoo Day!