Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Sandy Becker Theme Song: Afrikaan Beat

Someone asked if it was possible to post the theme song for "The Sandy Becker Show." Pretty easy to do: the kiddie show host used "Afrikaan Beat," and he sometimes promoted it on his show, since it was available as a single, for almost the price a kid might pay for a Duncan Yo-Yo or a Spalding pink rubber ball (yeah, ok, a "Spaldeen" everybody called it).

Becker was a different kind of kiddie host. He was a nice looking guy (a former soap opera actor) and he didn't "talk down" to his audience. He wasn't in costume at all times, like Buffalo Bob or Captain Kangaroo, he fit in somewhere between Dick Van Dyke and John F. Kennedy.

In the course of showing cartoons, exhibiting art work sent in by viewers, or doing a bit of arts and crafts, he sometimes turned up as a "character," the jovial Latino named K. Lastima (translation: What a Pity), the nerdish, Stan Laurel-esque Norton Nork, the bright-eyed and insane Hambone, or the stoic Big Professor. He also had some puppets around, including a strange old geezer named Geeba-Geeba. Mostly, he was beloved for being himself, a father figure for all the kids whose own Dads were away at work. He hosted a daily show for years, and his "Wonderama" program was literally on the air all of Sunday morning, breakfast to lunch! Sonny Fox, another "normal" kiddie host, later took it over.

No surprise that Becker's theme song is not at all zany or childlike. It reflects a different time and a different pace. Instrumental pop tunes are as rare now as intelligent and dignified hosts of kiddie shows. Here's Bert Kaempfert (the guy who brought The Beatles in to back Tony Sheridan on a German recording session, who wrote the music for Frank's "Strangers in the Night" and Al Martino's "Spanish Eyes" and Wayne Newton's "Danke Schoen" (aka Donkey Shit) providing the upbeat music that made kids sit up and smile, knowing Sandy Becker was about to arrive.

Sandy Becker Theme Song: AFRIKAAN BEAT


gregor said...

I grew up watching Sandy Becker. I still laugh when I think about him playing the Hambone character. Thanks for the memories!

doctor_spock said...

since the skatalites picked up this song it has become one of the most revered studio one riddims in jamaica. there are probably hundreds of versions and it will be played tonight at a sound system near you ...