|Birth name||Carl Douglas|
|Born||May 10, 1942|
|Years active||1964 – 1984|
20th Century Records (U.S.)
Carl Douglas (born May 10, 1942) is a Jamaican born singer, most famous for his song "Kung Fu Fighting", which reached number one on both the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and the UK Singles Chart in 1974. Douglas was also the first Jamaican born artist to score a number one single in the United States.
Douglas was born in Jamaica and educated in America and the UK. He went to the UK to study audio engineering, then got into singing and worked as a semi-pro entertainer until 1964. That year he formed a group called the Big Stampede, which released a couple of UK singles; two years later, he formed the Explosions while living in Spain. Upon returning to the UK, Douglas teamed up with a band called Gonzales, which quickly led to his becoming a session vocalist for Pye Records.
He had some early success as a songwriter when he penned the music for the Richard Roundtree 1972 film, Embassy. The idea for the disc stemmed from Douglas' evening out with his record producer, Biddu, when they saw a gang chopping and kicking and throwing each other about. Douglas had an early interest in judo and started learning more about kung fu in 1973 - "Kung Fu Fighting" was a big success on both sides of the Atlantic with over a million sales in the U.S., around half a million in the UK, and globally over four million. The disc started the 'Kung Fu step', a popular dance first in UK discotheques, then in the U.S. The R.I.A.A. awarded gold disc status on 27 November 1974, and it won a Grammy Award for Best Selling Single in 1974.
"Kung Fu Fighting" is acclaimed to be one of the greatest disco tracks of all time. The fame of this homage to martial arts films has overshadowed the rest of the singer's career, resulting in his appearance on cover versions of the song. However, Douglas did release two other hit singles: "Dance The Kung Fu" and "Run Back".[3 ]
Pye quickly cobbled together an album featuring a few novelty tracks and some soul/disco tunes, releasing it as Kung Fu Fighting and Other Great Love Songs. The follow-up single, "Dance the Kung Fu," flopped in America, pegging Douglas as strictly a novelty act, but it made the Top 20 in Britain, and "Run Back" reached the UK Top 30 in 1977.
Douglas went on to release two more albums, Love, Peace and Happiness in 1979 and Keep Pleasing Me in 1983.
Douglas eventually moved to Hamburg, Germany, where he owned a profitable production company that supplied music for films and advertisements. He now resides in Los Angeles, California, where he runs a publishing company that co-ordinates films, documentaries, and advertisements.
In 1998, a re-recording of his most famous song, billed as Bus Stop featuring Carl Douglas, reached number 8 in the UK Singles Chart.[3 ]