King Harvest – Dancing In The Moonlight

This song was leftover from my AM Radio Gold week I had a while back. It’s one of those songs that take me back to when I heard it on the radio. It’s almost impossible for me to be unhappy when this song is on. Kinda like how I Can See Clearly Now affects me. It was unlike the origin of the song.

It was written by the keyboard player/songwriter Sherman Kelly in 1969 after a trip to the Caribbean island of Saint Croix, where he was attacked by natives and left for dead. While he was recovering from his injuries, he wrote this song as an alternate reality.

The first band to record this song was Boffolongo, which was fronted by Larry Hoppen. The group recorded their debut album in 1969, and for their next album, released in 1970, Sherman Kelly joined the band on keyboards and brought them his song “Dancing In The Moonlight.” Kelly’s brother Wells also joined the band; this original version of the song featured Hoppen on guitar, Sherman on lead vocals, and Wells on drums.

In 1971, Wells Kelly paid a visit to the band King Harvest, who was working on a new album in Paris (his former Boffolongo bandmate Dave “Doc” Robinson was in the band). Wells came armed with some albums from America and also a copy of Boffolongo’s “Dancing In The Moonlight,” which King Harvest decided to record, this time with a more keyboard-driven sound and smoother production. The single, with lead vocals by Robinson, was released in Europe but stiffed; it was rescued by an American label called Perception Records that issued the song Stateside.

King Harvest released this song in 1972 and it reached #13 on the Billboard Charts, #5 in the UK charts, and #5 in Canada.

British band Toploader had a #7 hit in the UK with a cover of this after it was featured in a Sainsbury supermarket TV advert.

Dancing In The Moonlight ended up being an enduring hit for the band, and their only song to make much of an impact (“A Little Bit Like Magic” made #91 a few months later) King Harvest were never The Who, Beatles, or the Stones but they contributed to the texture of the seventies. They did end up releasing 10 albums! The latest in 2015.

Songwriter Sherman Kelly: On a trip to St. Croix in 1969, I was the first victim of a vicious St. Croix gang who eventually murdered 8 American tourists. At that time, I suffered multiple facial fractures and wounds and was left for dead. While I was recovering, I wrote “Dancin In The Moonlight” in which I envisioned an alternate reality, the dream of a peaceful and joyful celebration of life. The song became a huge hit and was recorded by many musicians worldwide. “Dancin In The Moonlight” continues to be popular to this day.

The first band Boffalongo to record it. 

Dancing In The Moonlight

We get it almost every night
When that ol’ moon gets-a big and bright
It’s a supernatural delight
Everybody’s dancin’ in the moonlight

Everybody here is out of sight
They don’t bark, and they don’t bite
They keep things loose, they keep things light
Everybody was dancin’ in the moonlight

Everybody’s dancin’ in the moonlight
Everybody’s feelin’ warm and right
It’s such a fine and natural sight
Everybody’s dancin’ in the moonlight

We like our fun and we never fight
You can’t dance and stay uptight
It’s a supernatural delight
Everybody was dancin’ in the moonlight

Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

30 thoughts on “King Harvest – Dancing In The Moonlight”

  1. Wow, interesting…what a terrible inspiration for a great song. And great it is, have loved this song since it was a hit when I was a little kid. Had no idea what they looked like… kind of a suprise, didn’t expect them to be like an Allman Brothers or early Doobie Bros. band.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yea I never heard of Boffalongo either lol. King Harvest is the version I grew up with…but I did hear Toploader’s version.

      Like

  2. Agree with Dave- again- is a trend being shown here? Very Van. I also hear a similarity with this to Redbone’s ‘Come And Get Your Love,’ but nothing on the ‘Led Zep/Spirit copyright court action. It was just the sound and tempo of the times- a lot of songs from different artists when combined together sounds like one groups set list.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It DOES have a similiar feel to Come and Get Your Love…
      A lot of this era’s songs got brought back into popularity with the “Guardians of the Galaxy”….

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Nice song, Max. It’s funny, when I saw the title, my first thought was Blue Oyster Cult – except, as I subsequently realized, their song is “Dancin’ in the Ruins,” which is very different from “Dancin’ in the Moonlight!” Not sure what happened here – some weird wiring in my brain! 🙂

    Anyway, I don’t think I had heard “Dancin’ in the Moonlight” before. While there’s nothing wrong with Boffalongo (strange band name though), I much prefer King Harvest’s version. The other day, I saw a Wurlizter electric piano in a shop window, which looked just the one in the video clip. It was an antique store!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The Boffalongo version was new to me as well. This was indeed a staple of 70s AM radio. To me it sounded like something older, almost adult contemporary. But catchy and likable. I had no idea about the backstory to the song. The story is a bit like the Dreadlock Holiday song which came out in the late 1970s.

    Liked by 1 person

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