‘Day-O’ co-writer dies at 95
NEW YORK — Composer Irving Burgie, who helped popularize Caribbean music and co-wrote the enduring Harry Belafonte hit “Day-O (The Banana Boat Song),” has died at age 95.
At the Barbados Independence Day Parade on Saturday, Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley announced Burgie died Friday.
“Day-O,” written in 1952, has been ubiquitous, appearing in everything from the film and Broadway musical “Beetlejuice” to an E-Trade commercial. “Day-O” was also the wake-up call for the astronauts on two space shuttle missions in the 1990s.
According to the Songwriters Hall of Fame, Burgie’s songs have sold over 100 million records throughout the world. Many were recorded by Belafonte, including eight of the 11 songs on Belafonte’s 1956 album, “Calypso,” the first album to sell over 1 million copies in the U.S. Burgess also penned songs for the Kingston Trio and for other groups.
He served in an all-black U.S. Army battalion in World War II and used GI Bill funds to pay for music studies. Burgie studied at the Juilliard School of Music, University of Arizona and University of Southern California. He became a folk singer using the stage name “Lord Burgess“and performed the circuit between New York and Chicago, making his New York nightclub debut at the Village Vanguard in 1954.