RUM AND COCA COLA

Latest update on 18/01/2015

Artist: Lord Invader
Author: Rupert Grant
Year: 1943

As a tent calypsonian in Trinidad (Victory Tent), he witnessed the facts of the song right before his very eyes: how GI's got themselves the better girls chasing their rum with coke, while the local boys couldn't afford but soda. Wartime restrictions prevented Invader to record his song in 1943, but it did exist!: the lyrics were printed in the booklet Victory Calypso 1943 - Souvenir, sold among GI's struggling with the local lingo. That's how it came to the States in the first place. Still unpublished in 1944, authorship was credited to Morey Amsterdam, a show promotor in Trinidad where nightlife flourished thanks to American GI's. Reason enough for The Lord Invader (real name: Rupert Grant) to stand for his rights, claiming he wrote the words. The music was partly ripped off an existing melody, L'Année passée, written by local ragtime pianist Lionel Belasco in 1906, so he sued also. They won their case in 1950, Invader got $100.000 (Belasco's reward is unknown), which of course didn't match the millions earned by Amsterdam and co. Neither he nor Belasco were granted co-credits for the Andrews Sisters-hit. (see also: Llorando Se Fue/Lambada). By the time Alan Lomax gave Invader the opportunity to sing his own song in the heart of Manhattan ('46), his interpretation "in the way it should be sung" sounded offended and bitter.

Covers:

1943:

Massie Patterson [as L'Année passée (see note) in French patois; submitted for publishing to Maurice Baron in songbook Calypso Songs Of The West Indies]

1944:

Jeri Sullavan [New York torch singer in the Versailles restaurant; first US performance]

1944:

Andrews Sisters [crediting Amsterdam/Sullavan/Baron; n°1 US, while at first facing radio bans all over; after all, this was not the ideal portrayal of GI behaviour overseas, while the Coca Cola C° wasn't at all pleased with alcoholic links; still it became a multi-millionseller; people were fed up with orthodox propaganda, this cola cocktail doubled for perfect antidote; Decca had to borrow shellac from other record companies to keep up with the public demand]

1945:

Wilmoth Houdini

1945:

Vaughn Monroe

1945:

Abe Lyman

1946:

Lord Invader [his oldest recording during the Calypso After Midnight concert in Town Hall, New York, organised by Alan Lomax]

1950s:

Patrick Jones [as l'Année passée in Belasco's style]

1965:

Prince Buster [ska version]

1966:

Merrymen [elements in Big Bamboo (see there); hit B & NL in '69]

1974:

Professor Longhair

1983:

Stars On 45 [as The Star Sisters in Andrews Sisters-medley; n°1 B & NL]

Years later Invader was approached by Pepsi to come up with some kind of a follow-up. There was a Pepsi-Cola recorded but it remained unissued until half a century later when it surfaced on the Lord Invader-cd Calypso In New York (Folkways), along with an early Brown Girl In The Ring (see there). Detailed analysis of the origins, the legal history and the lyrics of Rum And Coca Cola is to be found in Donald R. Hill's book Calypso Calalou (University Press Of Florida, 1993).

Contact


If you noticed blunt omissions, mis-interpretations or even out-and-out errors, please let us know by contacting us:

Arnold Rypens
Rozenlaan 65
B-2840 Reet (Rumst)

info@originals.be

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