Carl Douglas is an R&B and pop singer-songwriter, recording artist and “one hit wonder” from Jamaica known for his novelty hit “Kung Fu Fighting.” It became a big transatlantic hit during disco’s peak in the 70s music era. We explore a little bit more on Carl Douglas here in this article!
Carl Douglas and his only hit “Kung Fu Fighting”
Carl Douglas was born Carlton George Douglas in Kingston, Jamaica on May 10, 1942. He spent his formative years both in Jamaica and in California, US before moving to the UK to study sound engineering.
It was also in England where Douglas’ music career started, where he had been to a number of bands. He also worked as a session singer for Pye Records.
During the early 1970s Indian-born producer Biddu wanted a B-side to “I Want to Give You My Everything,” composed by Larry Weiss and sung by Douglas. Biddu contacted Douglas and asked him if there were any lyrics that the former could use for the B-side. Among the several lyrics Douglas provided to Biddu, the producer picked out the one that would later be named “Kung-Fu Fighting.” It is a paean to the kung-fu craze that had swept the Western pop culture, thanks in large part to Bruce Lee’s blockbuster martial arts film Enter the Dragon and David Carrdine’s Kung Fu series. Biddu then worked on the melody that would sound perfectly for the lyrics.
“Kung-Fu Fighting” was recorded in just about 10 minutes. Pye, having such as foresight, insisted that the song should be elevated to A-side. When it was first released, it didn’t get much radio airplay and experienced low sales. But when the song became popular in dance clubs, this was where the sales began to pick up.
“Kung-Fu Fighting” went on to become a monster hit in the UK, topping the national chart in September 1974. In the United States, the “Kung-Fu Fighting” was released on 20th Century Fox label and also became an immediate hit, peaking at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and Billboard R&B singles chart later that year.
The single’s album Kung Fu Fighting and Other Great Love Songs topped the Billbard R&B album charts and peaked at #37 on the Billboard 200.
Later life and career
Despite releasing a handful of more singles and two more albums, Douglas never experienced the same level of success as “Kung-Fu Fighting” did. Morever, his own career became overshadowed by the song, which has become an oldies music classic tune.
Douglas eventually relocated to Hamburg, Germany and is now a successful businessman who runs his own production company.