‘Day-O’ co-writer dies at 95

Houston Chronicle - - NEWSMAKERS - By Mark Kennedy

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.

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