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Marquis Chimp Red Rose Tea puppet
In the 1960's there was a television advertisement that featured a bunch of chimpanzees playing in a swing band. The commercial was for Red Rose Tea, and the song they "played" was a wild and catchy number. It was released as a single, credited to "The Monkeys", with a B-side that was exactly the same as the A-side. [More infomation at bottom of the page.]
Here's the theme song for Ernie Kovack's Nairobi Trio. It's called Solfeggio. The "lyrics" of the song use the syllables doe ray me fa so la te doe, but they sing the name of the note to represent the note of the C major scale. The Nairobi Trio were three people with ape masks that did a automaton-like pantomime to the music. Comedy bit. Must see it. Words do not express.
Ernie Kovacs, the Nairobi Trio singing Solfeggio
Lancelot Link, secret chimp

During the 1970's there was a TV show called Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp which featured chimpanzees dressed in clothes, making lots of mouth movements. Actors dubbed in the voices. An album was recorded to accompany the show. Here's Sha-La Love You by Lancelot Link & The Evolution Revolution. You'll have to close your eyes and pretend the entire band is made up of talented chimps. Thanks, Bubblegum machine!


More information on the Red Rose Tea commercial:

I went to school in Pittsburgh, and the local community radio station WYEP featured a DJ called "Big Al" who had a blues show.  During one show, he played the Red Rose Tea song. I jumped up, slammed a tape into my tape deck and stabbed "Record". I only got half the song, but when the song was over, Big Al said, "I bet a lot of you want to know what's on the flip side of this crazy record."  He turned it over and played the B-Side.  It was the same song. 

I recently found the tape of that show, digitized the Red Rose Tea song, and put it on this website as an MP3 file. But my friends and I, who remember the Red Rose Tea commercial, were still looking for a copy of the song.

Recently, I received the following email from a friend of mine:

The following is from

"But for sheer curiosity and nutzoid novelty value, nothing tops the inclusion here of the premium 45 issued by Brooke Bond Foods, promoting its TV commercial with the Marquis Chimps masquerading as rock 'n' rollers prostelyzing the virtues of Red Rose Tea. This is loose, raw, out of control and slightly demented sounding; in short just about perfect!"

The name of the CD?   Pittsburgh 's Greatest Hits Volume 2

So how'd your information professional find this one?

With the latest talk of the tune and fired up with about a half hour's listening to the song over & over, I went out on the web to see if I could find anything new on the tune.

One of my hits was a posting that referred to the song and made mention that most people when thinking of Red Rose Tea, they think of the drink, but if you're from Pittsburgh, you think of the song (Why, I don't know).

A search of “Red Rose Tea” and “ Pittsburgh” (the secret keyword) netted me listings to the CD

It's not available from your "usual sources". A bit more on the CD and buying info is at:

Now THAT made my week!

When his copy of the CD arrived, he sent me the following additional information:

So now here's a bit of the scoop on the record from the liner notes for all of you record collector geeks out there.

The record (a 45) was not released by the Red Rose Tea company (actually the company is Brooke Bond Foods). According to the liner notes, the commercial ran in the Pittsburgh area in 1968.

A couple of DJ types (Zeke Jackson and Frank "Crazy D" DiMino) thought that the tune on the Red Rose Tea commercial was worth putting out on record. They obtained the rights to the song from Brooke Bond Foods and put out 1,000 copies of the tune on their own Gink label (Gink #9612 to be exact). Same tune on both sides of the record. Supposedly the 45 was put out in 1972.

So it turns out that the record I've been looking for almost 25 years was not a company promotional record as I thought, but was a limited release only in the Pittsburgh area. No wonder I haven't seen an original copy of it, yet.

As for the rest of the CD? It has some pretty good doo-wop on it.

And the video for that commercial has now been found on the web.

Thanks to Ed Golick, who alerted me to its location.





© Robert Bendesky 2006
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