King Harvest – “Dancing in the Moonlight”

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American rock band King Harvest goes down to history as one of the countless one-hit wonders (despite the second and last single charted on the Top 100). Four American expats in Paris formed and became core members of King Harvest in 1970 although the band would undergo several lineup changes (the band even paraded three keyboardists at one time). They scored their one and only big hit “Dancing In The Moonlight” in 1972. Their subsequent singles failed to chart at all, even with the assistance and support from Beach Boys members Carl Wilson and Mike Love when King Harvest recorded and released another album in the mid-70s, where the band finally broke up. However, they reunited a few times in the 21st century.

Rise to fame

With the success of their single “Dancing in the Moonlight,” the band King Harvest gained attention. The band was founded in Paris in the late 1960s, but they didn’t achieve popularity there until they relocated to America.

When “Dancing in the Moonlight” was released in 1972, it became popular very quickly. It spent 16 weeks at #13 and peaked at that position on the Billboard Hot 100 list. Fans loved the song because of its lively lyrics and catchy tune, and it is still one of the band’s most well-known songs today.

The popularity of “Dancing in the Moonlight” contributed to King Harvest’s popularity. The group went on tour, playing at several national music festivals and venues. Even though they later had several additional albums and singles, none of them were as successful as “Dancing in the Moonlight”.

The song’s distinctive sound was one of the factors contributing to its appeal. King Harvest created a sound that was unique and memorable by fusing elements of rock, pop, and country music. The song’s opening piano riff is instantly identifiable and establishes the mood for the rest of it.

The song’s timeless message contributed to its success as well. People of all ages may relate to the idea of dancing and having a wonderful time while the moon is out. Although the words are short and simple, they perfectly express the attitude of carefree enjoyment that we all yearn for.

“Dancing in the Moonlight” has gained popularity again recently in addition to its initial success upon release. The song has gained a new audience through appearances in movies, TV shows, and ads.

King Harvest was able to find success with “Dancing in the Moonlight,” but they were never as well-known as some of their contemporaries. The band finally broke up in the late 1970s, but “Dancing in the Moonlight” is still a classic, and their music continues to carry on their legacy.

From France to the United States

The formation of King Harvest occured in 1970 where four Americans Ron Altback, Davy “Doc” Robinson (both on keyboards), Ed Tujela (guitar) and Rod Novak (saxophone) met in Paris, France. Altback, Robinson, Tujela and Novak previously attended Cornell University together. This lineup would experience several changes later. New Yorker drummer Steve Cutler joined King Harvest in their final six months in Paris. He was also present while the band recorded “Dancing in the Moonlight.” Another American also by the name of Sherman Kelly joined the band one time, becoming a third member of the King Harvest’s keyboards unit alongside Altback and Robinson. Kelly’s brother Wells was a drummer who also introduced King Harvest to “Dancing in the Moonlight,” but he soon left France before the song was reorded. French musician Didier Alexandre also became a member of King Harvest at one time.

The band recorded “Dancing in the Moonlight,” while in Paris. It was released as a single in France (with “Lady, Come Home to Me” as the B-side) but it went unnoticed. The group broke up but in 1972 they reformed upon their return in the United States. King Harvest secured a recording deal with a small label Perception.

“Dancing in the Moonlight” — King Harvest’s only major hit record

The band’s first single on Perception was again, “Dancing in the Moonlight,” written by Sherman Kelly. This time, it became a big hit at home, peaking at #13 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1973. The single went to #5 on the Canadian charts as well. Their first album, also called Dancing in the Moonlight, went to #136 on the Billboard 200 and #50 on the R&B singles chart. Around the time of the release of King Harvest’s debut LP, Australian drummer David Montgomery (ex-member of Python Lee Jackson) joined the band and toured with them that spring.

As the band’s lineup continued to fluctuate, several musicians such as bassist Tony Cahill and drummer Boy Bobby Figueroa also joined King Harvest at one time.

Together again

However, King Harvest were unable to match their first single’s success with their following singles, such as a very minor hit “A Little Bit Like Magic.” By the mid 1970s King Harvest disbanded. However, the band formed a new version and this time were signed to A&M Records with the help of Beach Boys members Carl Wilson and Mike Love. Despite this, King Harvest was unable to achieve any more hits and they subsequently disbanded.

In 2007, King Harvest: The Lost Tapes was released, and the band reunited to perform the PBS production 70s Experience Live. In the summer of 2012 the band members reunited once more to perform their first concert in over 40 years; the following December Doc Robinson passed away and was buried in his birthplace in Cleveland, Ohio. In Robinson’s memory, the surviving three members — Altback, Novak and Tujela — got together again in the summer of 2013 and released a song titled “Doc.”

“Dancing in the Moonlight” cover versions

Despite having one hit, at least King Harvest made one memorable song with “Dancing in the Moonlight.” The song has been covered a lot of times already with such artists including Liza Minnelli, Joe Bean Esposito, Toploader, Alyson Stoner, The Keane Brothers, Orleans (whose one of the members was Wells Kelly, brother of one-time King Harvest member Sherman Kelly), My Morning Jacket, even Japanese singer ohashiTrio, among many others.

Music Styles 

King Harvest’s success with their single “Dancing in the Moonlight” was partly attributed to the band’s ability to integrate a variety of musical genres into one sound. Rock, pop, and country music were all incorporated into the band’s songs, giving them a unique sound that was memorable and appealing.

The band’s distinctive sound is perfectly represented in the song “Dancing in the Night”. The song’s initial piano melody has a country-music feel to it, but as it goes on, the instrumentation leans more toward rock. The chorus of the song also incorporates some soul and funk due to the usage of a horn section.

The music of King Harvest was distinguished by this fusion of several musical genres. The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Elvis Presley, and other performers as well as country and soul musicians all had an impact on the band. The band’s music developed a distinctive character that made them stand out from other bands of the time because to this broad combination of influences.

The band’s vocal harmonies were also a key component of their sound. Soaring harmonies that give the song “Dancing in the Moonlight” depth and richness support the lead vocals in the song. Another characteristic that distinguished the band from their contemporaries was the emphasis on vocal harmonies.

Despite “Dancing in the Moonlight’s” success, the band never truly embraced any one particular musical genre. As opposed, they kept experimenting with many sounds and inspirations over the course of their career, which gave their music a feeling of unpredictability and freshness.

Live Performances

“Dancing in the Moonlight,” a hit song by King Harvest, became a favorite among audience members when it was performed live. The group was renowned for their exciting live performances, which frequently included longer versions of popular songs.

The band sometimes added extended instrumental breaks to their live renditions of “Dancing in the Moonlight” so that each member could display their individual musical prowess. The horn section in particular, with its vivacious and cheerful contributions, was a highlight of the live performances, providing an added level of energy to the song.

Doc Robinson, the band’s lead singer, excelled during live performances. Robinson was well renowned for his energetic performances, which frequently included dancing and audience participation. He also had a natural stage presence. The infectious pace of the song plus his encouragement for the audience to sing along and dance made for an unstoppable party atmosphere.

At the 1973 Watkins Glen Summer Jam, the band performed “Dancing in the Moonlight” live in front of more than 600,000 people alongside The Grateful Dead and The Allman Brothers Band. The band’s passionate rendition of the song was a high point of the occasion and contributed to their reputation as a favored live act.

“Dancing in the Moonlight” is still a well-liked song in live performances today. The song’s catchy melody and lively lyrics continue to be performed by cover bands and tribute artists at venues and events all over the world, and they never fail to get the crowd moving.

Conclusion

The popular song “Dancing in the Moonlight” by King Harvest has earned a place in the hearts of music lovers of all generations. Strong vocal harmonies, a catchy tune, and the song’s distinctive fusion of rock, pop, and country music all contributed to its initial success and the band’s rise to stardom.

Another high point of the band’s career was performing “Dancing in the Moonlight” live. The song was already contagious, but the band’s charismatic lead singer and the horns section’s vibrant contributions added an extra layer of excitement, making it a fan favorite in concert halls all over the world.

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