This week’s pick for Instrumentals Tuesday is “Grazing in the Grass” by Hugh Masekela. It was composed by actor and singer Philemon Hou. South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela was the first to record it, and he released it as a single in 1968 backed with “Bajabula Bonke (Healing Song).” The single went to #1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 that year. Masekela also released “Grazing on the Grass” on his 1968 album The Promise of a Future.
“Grazing in the Grass” was recorded at Gold Start Studios in Hollywood, CA, which was the venue for many famous artists, including Ritchie Valens, Eddie Cochran, Phil Spector, Darlene Love, Brian Wilson, Sonny & Cher, Buffalo Springfield, Duane Eddy, Jimi Hendrix, The Ronettes, The Righteous Brothers, Iron Buttery, Jan and Dean, Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass, and the list goes on and on. The musicians for “Grazing in the Grass” were Hugh Masekela (trumpet), Bruce Langhorne (guitar), Al Abreu (alto sax), William Henderson (piano), Henry Franklin (bass), and Chuck Carter (drums). Masekela won a Grammy Award for it in 1968 for Best Contemporary Pop Performance — Instrumental.
There have been numerous covers of “Grazing in the Grass.” In 1969, The Friends of Distinction’s Harry Elston added words to it, ( e.g., “Grazin’ in the grass is a yes, baby, can you dig it.”), and the group had a #3 hit with it. Other versions include those by Stevie Wonder, Chet Atkins, George Howard, Boney James, Rick Braun, Larry Harlow, Willie Mitchell, The Monitors, The Scofflaws, and many more.
Masekela was born in Witbank, South Africa., in 1934 He left the country following the 1960 Sharpeville massacre, which was an act of brutality by the Aparteid state. He was helped by Trevor Huddleston, Yuhudi Menuhin, John Dankworth, and Harry Belafonte. Masekela attended the Manhattan School of Music in New York. He has had a long and varied career, with hits such as “Up, Up and Away” as well as “Grazing in the Grass,” and he performed at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival. Masekela has played in many jazz ensembles as well as with The Byrds and Paul Simon. He was married at one time to singer, actor, and activist Miriam Makeba. Masekela is also known for anti-Aparteid songs “Soweto Blues” and “Bring Him Back Home.” He has also been a social activist and is director of the Lunchbox Fund, which gives students in Soweta a daily meal.
Check Out The Groove Pad for More 1960s Music
The Pass the Paisley Groove Pad is a resting stop, a place to chill out and listen to the featured song on the stereo. If the mood strikes you, click on the juke box to access and listen to the 50+ free online songs there. The TV has several channels, with selections updated twice a week. Every now and then, Pass the Paisley hosts an all-request of 1960s and 1970s songs for a Be-In at the juke box in the Groove Pad. Keep on truckin’. Hope you enjoyed “Grazing in the Grass” by Hugh Masekela.