Today is the birthday of one-mouth band Bobby McFerrin,
who was born in 1950 in New York City, New York. McFerrin is well-known for his
brand of mouth music, creating vocals, percussion, and instrumental noises with
his voice (and occasionally well-placed hand slaps against his body), and for
his 1988 hit "Don't Worry Be Happy."
Both of McFerrin's parents were opera
singers, but the young Bobby decided to study piano instead, playing in bands
before jazz musician John Hendricks tapped McFerrin to play with him.
Comedian Bill Cosby saw McFerrin performing with Hendricks in San
Francisco, and got him booked at the Playboy Jazz Festival in 1980. The
musician decided he would be best off performing solo, using his voice to
recreate the sounds of other instruments, rather than sticking to a career in
His covers of songs like the Beatles' "Blackbird," James Brown's "I
Feel Good," and his own songs like "I'm My Own Walkman," have wowed
Since "Don't Worry Be Happy" hit #1, McFerrin has worked with
top musicians in several genres, including cellist Yo-Yo Ma and jazzman Chick
Corea, and even performed at the White House in 1993.
Bruce Watson (Big Country), Flaco Jimenez (Texas Tornados), the late Lawrence
Welk, Mike Hugg (Manfred Mann), Rick Rothwell (Mindbenders), Mark Stein
(Vanilla Fudge), George Kooymans (Golden Earring), Mike Percy (Dead Or Alive),
Lenny Wolf, Nina Hagen and Lisa Loeb. -- Beth Winegarner