Saturday, June 04, 2016

Black Superman

There's a reason Johnny Wakelin's "Black Superman (Muhammad Ali)" occupies a spot on my Spotify Playlist, Tracks Of My Years.  In the Summer of '75, having just moved back to the U.S. from Germany, it was one of many songs from that time that has always occupied a space in my musical brain.
I think it got more airplay on my Top 40 channels than it's national chart peak showed (#21).  Written by Wakelin after Ali's defeat of George Foreman in 1974, it's reggae meets pop sound had me for years thinking he was Jamaican.  But Wakelin was a white Englishman.   And further notes for you one hit wonder nuts, he was discovered and signed to the same label as Carl "Kung Fu Dancing" Douglas.

As these things go, the success of the song spawned a sequel in 1976, "In Zaire", about the Foreman fight again.  It didn't go anywhere in the States but was a hit around Europe.
Wakelin is still alive and Ali's death will give "Black Superman" more spins.  There are certainly more thought-provoking songs on Ali's impact, but for its time, Wakelin's little ditty was perfect.

Johnny Wakelin - "Black Superman (Muhammad Ali)"
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