Bob Marley and The Banana Splits.

Back in November, I was part of a conversation in a bar on a very important issue. The question at hand on that day and that I put to you all is simple – is the similarity between the choruses of  a Bob Marley song and a late 1960”s children’s television show a coincidence?

Some of you may not be familiar with The Banana Splits Show. It was a show that mixed taped segments of action involving the Banana Splits and with some cartoons. The Banana Splits were people in mascot style costumes portraying a dog, gorilla, lion and an elephant. The four of them hung out together in a sort of club house introducing cartoons, when they weren’t out tooling around in six wheeled vehicles or running around an amusement park. Makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?

The Banana Splits

I loved the Banana Splits when I was 8. I saved enough cereal box tops to join their fan club. I mailed in my application, but never got anything in return. Fleegle, Bingo, Drooper and Snork, if you’re reading this, I’d really like my membership card.


I love Bob Marley now, when I’m 48. I never really joined his fan club. If Bob’s estate started a fan club, I’d down enough Cap’n Crunch to become a charter member.

The Cap'n

Who am I kidding, I love Cap’n Crunch. I’m eating it anyhow. But I love Marley too.

I’m not going to give a history of Bob Marley, as I did for the Banana Splits. Marley is simply, a God.

Now, on the fateful day of this barroom conversation, I was with a group of my dear friends, in the Caribbean Club in Key Largo, Fl.  The Bob Marley song, Buffalo Soldier was playing. Several of us had had enough to drink to cause our designated driver to question her judgment in agreeing to drive us through the Keys. Then, as Bob hit the chorus of Buffalo Soldier, my friend Steve blurted out “this sounds like the Banana Splits theme song.”

Steve was right. He usually is about important matters such as this.

I don’t know whether Bob Marley was aware of the Banana Splits and counted them among his influences or it is just a rhythmic coincidence. I submit to you, my friends, recordings of the Banana Splits theme and Buffalo Soldier. Listen to both, I value your judgement on the issue, since I won’t be able to ask Marley, no matter how many boxes of Cap’n Crunch I eat.

First, the Banana Splits theme. Please take note of the chorus – tra la la, la la la la, tra la la, la la la la. This is the critical piece:

I know, listening to that, you wish you had your Fan Club membership card too. Get in line, my friend, it forms behind me.

Now, Bob Marley’s Buffalo Soldier, a tribute to the struggles of black soldiers who fought in the United States Civil War. If you feel the need to rush through to the critical point, at 2:13 of the song, you’ll find the first instance of the matching chorus – yoy yoy yoy, yo yo yo-yo yo, yo yo yo, yo yo yo yo-yo yo- yo yo.

Yes, the words are different, but listen! You hear it, don’t you? Why Bob, why?

Thanks for the reminder Lib and Dale.

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14 Comments on “Bob Marley and The Banana Splits.”

  1. Karen says:

    Shhhh…don’t tell anyone I’m reading and responding to blog posts. I’m pretending to be doing important stuff. Instead, I’m doing really important stuff, but I’m doing it with the volume turned down. So, I thought I’d look at the lyrics of Buffalo Soldier to see if maybe I could come up with some cool conspiracy theory or something.

    This is the first link I found . . .

    . . .and the first comment that caught my eye was from Charles in Glenside, PA, who said…

    “The Banana Splits? Here I was all ready to immerse myself in the meaning of one of Marley’s finest, and now I have to first rid myself of the distraction of a tune from an insipid afternoon children’s show.”

    I skimmed a bit further to see whether he was responding to someone else and found . . .

    “Unfortunately, every time I hear the part of this song that goes “woy yoy yoy, woy yoy-yoy yoy…” (spelling from the Songfacts lyrics sheet), I think of the theme song from the 1960s children’s show The Banana Splits. It’s called The Tra La La Song, if any of you want to look it up” . . .

    posted by Bill in the southeastern part of FL.

    My conspiracy theory instincts seem to point in the direction of southeastern FL. I wonder if Bill is a frequent patron of the Caribbean Club.

  2. omawarisan says:

    I guess that means I’ll have to go back for more research.

  3. Pie says:

    I remember the Banana Splits when I was a little one and absolutely loved it (siiiize of an Elephant!). Looking at it now, you wonder what the creators were smoking, or pills were popped when they came up with that show.

    I was distracted by the brilliance of both tunes the first time I heard them here, but on listening again and paying full attention, I have to agree that the Banana Splits must’ve been an influence on the master of reggae. Tra la-la, la-la-la-la, Yo, yo, yo, yo-yo-yo-yo-yo.

    Perfect fit, see?

    • omawarisan says:

      Siiiize of an elephant! I remember that cartoon! Remember the filmed show they also had with the people stuck on the island? Why wasn’t anyone looking for those people?

  4. linlah says:

    I don’t remember the Banana Splits but I like to do research so I’ve packed my bags you count me in on that.

  5. KathiD says:

    Well, of COURSE I know the Banana Splits! But who is this Marley guy?

  6. Pie says:

    I don’t think we can get Cap’n Crunch in this country. Could you send me a box so I can sample it? Failing that, please furnish me with a short description of the ingredients and a reason why I could fall in love with it. Ta.

    • omawarisan says:

      I would love to send you a box of Cap’n Crunch. Shoot me a note and I’ll get it in the mail. We’ll have an interblog cultural exchange program.

      Cap’n Crunch is a sweetened corn and oat based cold cereal – sweetened to the point that it tastes of neither corn nor oats. It is, obviously, crunchy. It imparts part of its sweetness to the milk you pour over it.

      I’m serious about sending it!

  7. planetross says:

    They do sound very similar.
    I loved the Banana Splits! I think I even had the group of bendy rubber figures of all of them at one time.
    “Uh-oh Chongo!”
    informative information: Danger Island had Jan Michael Vincent in it and was directed by Richard (Lethal Weapon” Donner.

  8. […] Most of my friends are like me. They love music, but aren’t musically gifted. Also like me, they don’t mind talking about things they know nothing about…like music. Our conversations usually touch on matters like the connection between Bob Marley and the 1970′s television show, The Banana Splits. […]

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