While dance clubs around the globe were blasting “Kung Fu Fighting,” I was fighting Kung Fu blasting. This early disco hit, which topped the U.S. charts in September 1974, was recorded in ten minutes and took singer Carl Douglas a mere two takes to complete. It was originally intended to be the B side of a single called “I Want to Give You My Everything.”
The song was part of a martial arts craze inspired by the popular Western-chopsocky series Kung Fu. The show, which aired in the U.S. from 1972 to 1975, starred David Carradine as Kwai Chang Caine, a Shaolin monk who travelled the Old West dispensing Taoist philosophy and fending off bad guys with his martial arts moves. Now, there’s a formula for a hit song AND a dance craze. Within weeks of “Kung Fu Fighting’s” release, polyester-clad boys in high school gyms and blow-dried studs at Brooklyn night clubs began kicking and chopping their way into the hearts and minds of dancing queens seeking the philosophy of Tao Te Disco.
This song has sold 11 million copies worldwide! Here’s a look at three of its many international cover versions. I agree that the original was cheesy – especially to a 15-year-old rocker like me who had to hear it ad infinitum on an AM-only car radio – but these versions are funky and funny. The song seems so politically incorrect nowadays. Who still uses the term “Chinaman”?
Can you imagine the snickering of a billion people when the Chinese first got a load of all this?
Here’s British singer Robyn Hitchcock’s version:
Here’s a cover by a Finnish dude named Frederik. Hilarious!
How about a reggae version by Lloyd Parks? This one ain’t half bad.
© Dana Spiardi, Sept 21, 2012