The host of 3-2-1 battles killer sharks on a comedy record.
In the summer of 1976, Ted Rogers – then still two years away from his career-defining game show 3-2-1 – decided to record a single to cash in on the popularity of Jaws. Looking at this now, it seems baffling – wasn’t Jaws the summer blockbuster of the previous year? Well, yes – in America. Hard as it is to believe now, back in the 1970s, global releases of big movies were often hugely staggered, and while Jaws had been released in the US in June 1975, it wasn’t until Christmas Day of that year that the film premiered in the UK – and then would make its way slowly across the country, playing out runs in the big cities before finally hitting everywhere else. It’s likely that in June ’76, Jaws was still a pretty fresh memory for most British cinema-goers. And of course, the life of a blockbuster back then was rather more expanded anyway, simply because it was such a new concept.
But if we can explain the timing of Beware of Mr Shark, the actual track still remains a baffling affair. In 1976, Rogers was a recognisable figure, if not exactly a household name, from hosting Sunday Night at the London Palladium, performing as support with Perry Como and Bing Crosby and guesting on shows like Jokers Wild. He had actually attempted a straight singing career in the mid-1960s, with a couple of unsuccessful singles. Perhaps he thought the time had come to try again, but it’s doubtful that anyone was desperate to buy novelty records by him even at a time when novelty records were much more popular than they are now. Nevertheless, he was hired to crack painfully bad gags over a heavy (okay, heavyish) funk beat in a record that surely satisfied no one. The real culprit here is writer, producer and arranger Alan Tew, a library music and TV theme specialist who probably thought that he was onto a winner with a well-known comedian telling shark jokes for three and a half minutes. Sadly, this Pye Records release did not follow Lalo Schifrin’s disco Jaws theme into the charts, and instead was left to sink, much like the shark at the end of the film did (but with less applause). Beware of Mr Shark was his last record until 1982, when he made a triumphant return to the recording studio with Dusty Bin, attempting to cash-in on the popularity of his 3-2-1 co-host, an anthropomorphic trash can. We told you that it was a different time back then, right?
Thanks to Steven Sheil for bringing this to our attention.
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