We all know about the Beatles’ Apple Records. It was started in 1968 by the Fab Four. And those early releases must be on Paul McCartney’s mind these days.
McCartney’s new single from his forthcoming “Egypt Station” album is called, cheekily, “Fuh You.” There are gigantic billboards up in certain locations, sponsored by Spotify, promoting the title.
But the whole “Fuh You” promotion harkens back to 1969, when you couldn’t say such things on the radio. (I’m not sure you can now, except on Spotify.)
The first singles on Apple were the Beatles’ “Hey Jude” (number 1 for seven weeks 50 years ago) and Mary Hopkins’ “Those Were the Days.” Badfinger would follow with “Come and Get It,” as asll as James Taylor with his first album.
But it turns out the record numbered 8 in the Apple Records box set (also available as a track on the Apple greatest hits CD, on amazon.com) was called “The King of Fuh.” The record was credited to an artist named Brute Force. In actuality this was just a nice Jewish kid from Jersey City called Stephen Friedland, who in the 1960s was a member of The Tokens, the group that sang “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.” In 1968 he confected a novelty pop song called “King of Fuh” (lyrics includes: “There was a beautiful land called Fuh. And in this land there was a king. And everybody called him the Fuh King”!!!)
Our friend and Beatles scholar Martin Lewis says:
“George Harrison heard the song courtesy of Nat Weiss – the US attorney for the then recently-deceased Beatles manager Brian Epstein. George immediately loved it and licensed the song for release on Apple. By Beatles protocol, this of course required the agreement of all four Beatles. John and George were both enthused fans of the song and Paul and Ringo also gave the release their blessing.
Alas Apple’s UK & US distributors (EMI and Capitol respectively) both point-blank refused to circulate the record because of the references to “Fuh-King”. A couple of thousand copies were covertly pressed by the Beatles and given away to pals of the band and their legendary publicist Derek Taylor. And then the record was done. The King of Fuh was no more…”
And, as noted, it’s now easily available via amazon and the Apple Records’ compilations.