Friday, October 22, 2010

Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead

Here's a question for the guys in the Fifth Estate. Has anyone ever approached you to play Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead at a funeral?
Jack / Rock And Roll Never Forgets

This is no joke ... it is ABSOLUTELY the Honest to God truth ... and I think I may have told this story once before here in Forgotten Hits.
Many, many years ago I saw a movie with my ex-wife ... I'm not 100% certain, but it may have been "The Big Chill" ... and in the movie, they played a song at somebody's funeral ... (which means that if it WAS "The Big Chill", the song would have been "You Can't Always Get What You Want" by The Rolling Stones) ... anyway, my ex-wife was SO moved by the scene that she asked me "When I die, what song are you going to play at MY funeral" ... to which I responded ... without one second's hesitation ... "I dunno ... "Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead?!?!?!?" Absolutely a 100% true story!!! lol (kk)

Meanwhile, here's another '60's FLASHBACK ... several years ago we ran a piece on the interesting instrumental interlude that comes right in the middle of The Fifth Estate's biggest hit, "Ding Dong, The Witch Is Dead" ... here it is again, along with a little update from Ken "Furvus" Evans (and a few OTHER timely comments, too!)

Kent --
I was almost middle aged when I heard something on the local classical station -- and realized that it was the instrumental bridge in "Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead," which charted when I was a freshman at Lane Tech. That little flute sequence goes back to the year 1612, from the "Terpsichore Suite" by German composer Michael Praetorius. I don't recall it being included in the 1939 WIZARD OF OZ film soundtrack, so somebody somewhere must have added it to the Fifth Estate cover. Classical music steals its way into pop music from time to time; see also "Lovers' Concerto" by the Toys and "Winter's Children" by the Capes of Good Hope, as well as "Touch and Go" by ELPV2 in the mid-80s.
Thanks much and keep it coming!
-- 73 -- Jeff Duntemann
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Very cool ... to hear a short snippet, simply click on the link below ... it'll take you right to the melody The Fifth Estate copped for their recording!!! lol (kk)
Click here: Dances from Terpsichore - 4. La Bourée: Collegium Terpsichore: MP3 Downloads

Drummer Ken "Furvus" Evans fills us in as to how this was worked into the arrangement of their take on the OZ classic below! (kk)
Thanks Kent!
Very interesting that one of your readers would be perceptive enough to even notice such a thing! Yes, Michael Praetorius it is, and here's the deal on it.
We will give that credit solely to Wayne Wadhams our singer / keyboard player.
(Sadly, Wayne passed away a couple of years ago ... and a couple of years AFTER this piece first ran in Forgotten Hits - kk)
Wayne had played classical music in theaters around the area between flicks to pick up a little spending money. He had played theaters like The Paramount in New Haven since he was 13. The band actually formed first in 1963 as The Decadents (later The D-Men) when he was about 15, and he became a lot to us as George Martin, with his classical background, was to The Beatles, except he was built into an otherwise two guitar, bass, drums and vocals band, rather than just being an external producer. But produce he did. We have about 100 recordings. Most of them have never been heard, some with good reason. But many should have been and looks like now they will. We had already had a number of good singles out with United Artists' Veep records, been on Hullabaloo co-hosted by Brian Epstein where we did our garage classic I Just Don't Care (the first real punkish style tune done on prime time national TV I am told), and we had recently changed our name to The Fifth Estate (after a magazine we saw in Chicago while doing a blues club tour). We were a solid performing band playing as much as six sets a night, six nights a week in Greenwich Village. But we were now looking for something that would go deep into the charts. That's when Don Askew, the lyricist for many of our songs, was at a party someplace in NYC and after a few drinks (maybe quite a few), he made a bet that we, The Fifth Estate, could at that point make a hit out of any song. Somebody suggested Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead and the rest is history, I guess.
Except ... it is the Michael Praetorius part in there that probably really made that all work. Our band used to get together and rehearse all day and late into the night. In the Summer it would be blisteringly hot. Some of us would go out and get (what else) pizza and bring it back for dinner and I believe this time Wayne stayed at the house while the rest of us went. He had a hammock set up way out back in the bushes and he had run a long, long wire out there for headphones so he could listen to music and rock back and forth in the hammock as he did. This day he was trying to relax so instead of listening to a recent album he put on one of his classical favorites from his organ in the theater days. And it just hit him I guess, and the rest is history (sort of) I guess!!?? After the pizza and back in our rehearsal room, he takes me over to the piano and says what kind of drums can you do with this and what do you think of it as our next single?? Hummm?? I said it gives you room in that middle part to do some harpsichord things which he was pretty good at, maybe the best around even and at such an early age. Now we were quite creative for the time and we usually just made something up that worked pretty well. But this was different enough that I didn't have any good immediate answer. So I went home took out my records and went though 20 or 30 or so before I came to Nowhere Man, obviously a Beatles tune, and I heard it all click immediately and so I just ripped off Ringo's beat from that song. It does pull and hold the other two parts together very well and the rest is HITSVILLE!!! So we, the band, put "Terpsichore Suite" into the piece. All the members of the band are playing on the recording along with a few members of the New York Pro Musica, who overdubbed a couple of horns and that piccolo line. Ricky played the piccolo line when we did it live, and even at times we did that line with fuzz guitar of all things. It actually comes out really fine but in a more garaged out rockin sort of way, which was the basic sound of the band at that time overall, with harpsichord, fuzz guitar and often even fuzz bass along with all the other. That's about it, Furv ps - I should also mention that Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead was done in FIVE languages by us; Japanese, German, French, Italian and English. In case you weren't aware of such an earth shattering fact!

Furv or Ken if you like. (I actually prefer Furvus when I'm in the music realm of things.)

Forgotten Hits Reader Jersey John recently sent in a short clip of "Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead", too ... apparently an "outtake" of some sort ... so Furvus addressed this issue for our readers, too!
Whoa!! ... Impressive sounding demo they made in basement! Clever! ...
Would like to know the name (title) of LP that was used in the demo.

Here's your answer, John!
As to John who wrote FH about The Fifth Estate DEMO of Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead!!, although at this late date we don't really know for sure which LP the Praetorius Dance Music we used for the demo came from as Wayne Wadhams who actually chose that music passed away not that long ago, but I did check around and found a CD on line which could contain the same earlier recording. I found a version of Michael Praetorius' Dances from Terpsichore - La Bouree, played by Collegium Terpsichore that possibly sounds like it. I believe this Bouree was recorded in the early 60s and very importantly was an early attempt to bring back to life, AUTHENTICALLY REVIVE, this 400 year old musical form which had been lost and not heard for centuries. Sheesh? Kind of almost like us - The 5E !
John, you're truly cool for having dug that deep. That CD can be found here.
AND our new Time Tunnel album is free to you. Just put in a request as I mention below.
There is the story of how the tune came about that day the idea popped up at -
(Interestingly enough, you'll find that the Songfacts Article mentioned above simply references OUR interview with Ken "Furvus" Evans" from a few years back in Forgotten Hits ... it's virtually IDENTICAL to our '60's FLASHBACK shown above!!! lol) kk

AND how it was recorded is kind of interesting as well. Wayne was a great keyboardist and harpsichord player at a very early age, and when we finally recorded that tune we all played and sang our parts on it and Wayne did the Harpsichord, and a few New York Pro Musica players were added to give it a bit more of an authentic touch. BUT when we first did the DEMO John sent to FH we did that all ourselves in our basement demo recording studio. I played the tubs, as we then called them, (drums) on there and the song was recorded in sections. I first fit the beat to and recorded over the pre-recorded Bouree dance music sections. Then I had to play at exactly that same tempo (finally after I don't know how many tries) with the band for all the just band sections, so THEN these parts could all be edited seamlessly together to make up the complete song. Pretty cool home producing, especially for those days which were starting to be more anything and everything goes, but which were still very primitive by comparison with today. It had a middle part from Dance Music by Michael Praetorius! After all we are a Rock and Roll DANCE BAND. All this played over the same rhythm foundation as The Beatles then recent #1 Nowhere Man. Man how could you miss! We didn't.
(Listen closely and you'll find that the background vocals "la-la-las" are very reminiscent of The Beatles' "Nowhere Man", too!) kk
I guess a joyous dance is a joyous dance whether it happened 400 years ago, 40 years ago, or 4 days ago! - or 400 years from now I hope.
For those wanting to know more about The Fifth Estate and all our other craziness you can check the Classic Bands website.

Then maybe just a word on what we are up to now.
Well, at the moment I am typing this, but other than that we are finishing our new TIME TUNNEL album with Shel Talmy of The Kinks, Who, Manfred Mann, David Bowie (I could go on) I will - The Fifth Estate! I'm going to send a demo of one of our new songs from the album called ENCHANTED, but a good demo with the 4 of us just standing there and playing the track with only a few overdubs. As I listen to this now it is probably good enough so that parts of this may actually be used for the master. This is a rough mix DEMO, without Doug's and Ricky's background singing (yet to be added ). Yep the same two doing the la la la's on Ding Dong! In fact a lot of this relates very much to that kind of thing harpsichord and all, except we wrote Enchanted. But we start it out with, what else??, that's right! of course - Tibetan Monks' Horns (in acknowledgement of their plight and the plight of all from that country) with the song giving thought and hope that maybe music, sometimes old musical forms even, can help improve the world even if it is in just some small way.
'Nough said. Here it is. Enchanted - first time anywhere.

It has been suggested to me that when the full album comes out early next year at about $14 for the 14 new songs on the album, that we should autograph the first 100 sold. Shel Talmy has agreed to sign as well. So for those interested you can contact me at:
No money to be sent now - but just a request for an autographed album when it is out. The first 100 requests (or so) will be signed.
Ken - Furv - whoever? or is it whomever?? Who cares - not me!

Interested? Drop Furvus a note. (And Jersey John, YOUR copy's a freebie!!! See, we don't just save the give-aways for our female readers!!! lol John joked a while back that Stacee, who won the autographed Tygers CD and LP after her email ran on The Forgotten Hits Web Page, had perhaps received some preferential treatment ... but with Ken Evans giving John a free Fifth Estate CD due to his astute observations regarding their early demo recordings, I'd have to say we've evened the score!) kk


Too funny ... after the ouster of radio programming legend Lee Abrams at The Tribune ... (officially, he "resigned"), it was funny to see THIS headline in "Taylor On Radio" the other day:
Former radio consultant Lee Abrams leaves Tribune. Now what?
"Ding dong, the Witch is dead" sentiments started surfacing after Friday's announcement from CEO Randy Michaels. Tribune staffers long annoyed by the iconoclastic advice and poor spelling from the company's Chief Innovation Officer were probably cheering at their desks. A list of the "Ten Dumbest Things Lee Abrams Has Ever Said" soon floated on (
here). Michaels and Abrams really had no choice about the decision. The damage was done by Abrams' widely-circulated memo that linked to the kinds of videos that give HR officers the night sweats - things like a parody of a TV newscast labeled "sluts." Michaels is under heightened scrutiny since the October 6 New York Times front-page attack. That David Carr piece spotlighted both the alleged frat-house atmosphere in the Tribune boardroom and the lethal effect of the 2007 Sam Zell buyout on the employees' stake in the company. Then along came the shake-up-the-troops memo from former radio consultant and XM chief programmer Lee Abrams last Monday. Radio folks aren't surprised by the talk about Michaels' free-wheeling nature. They've been hearing it for years, and have more context for it than, say, a Tribune staffer at the Baltimore Sun. But Abrams had to go, because Tribune's in the midst of finally getting a Chapter 11 bankruptcy re-organization to the court as soon as this week. CEO Michaels had no wiggle room.
Here's the Randy Michaels memo –
"As you know, earlier this week we suspended Lee Abrams from his position as Tribune Company's Chief Innovation Officer for distributing an email and video link that some employees found offensive. Today, Lee offered his resignation and I accepted it. Effective immediately, Lee will no longer be an employee of Tribune." No thanks-for-his-service flowery language, no "We appreciate Lee's contributions to the culture of the company." Where do Tribune and Michaels go from here? That's probably up to Wall Street. For what it's worth, TRI hears that one recent job applicant for a job at Tribune was told that his interviewer (a Randy Michaels-era hire) wasn't sure how long he might be there, himself. Still - Michaels says the operating results have been improving during the nearly two years of Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Sam Zell, the biggest lightning rod of all, is off the scene. And lenders-turned-owners are chiefly interested in performance, not style.
-- Tom Taylor / Taylor On Radio


We have also heard from a number of disc jockeys on the list who have told me that they're planning on featuring "Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead" as part of their special Halloween programming! (More on Halloween in The Sunday Comments Page!) kk

Excellent!!! Many thanks to Ken (and others)!!! The CD with the demo, that is out of print, containing "Ding Dong ... " is actually good for being a demo!!! Clever, too, with its content!Was one of my favorite songs!
Where I first heard it? I know this for a fact, during the initiation day at grade school summer school!!! :)

Thanks, Ken / Kent!




And, how's THIS for yet another PERFECT Forgotten Hits tie-in ... Furvus just sent us a YouTube clip of The D-Men (pre-Fifth Estate by about a year and a half) performing on "Hullabaloo" ... with Lada Edmund, Jr. dancing in one of the cages. (You won't BELIEVE who's dancing in the OTHER cage!!!) Lada's been the subject of quite a few FH postings lately, once word got out that she'll be appearing at Charles Rosenay's upcoming Beat Expo. Check it out:
Here it is on youtube, Kent. You are correct that was in 1965 when we were still The D-Men, but we are the same five guys who by early 1966 became The Fifth Estate.
Brian Epstein and Michael Landon were the co-hosts of this show. AND the dancers are Lada Edmund, Jr. and Dionne Warwick, which to me is just as cool if not cooler that she wanted to be one of the dancers on our segment as well.