The Ladies of Calcutta

Musical Bandbox used to be our window to Western Popular music in the Calcutta of the sixties and seventies. At one o clock every Sunday thousands of youngsters used to tune in to this
“request” session where we were introduced to many of the then hit songs of Britain and the United States, albeit perhaps six months after the songs were first released in the West. Three times a week we used to get Lunch Time Variety which was also western music usually crafted around a theme by the presenter. But this was possible only in the school holidays because at other times we were safely ensconced in our classrooms on these days.
One song that was all the rage in the late sixties was the “The Ladies of Calcutta”. It suddenly turned up in You Tube the other day when I was browsing the net and for a few minutes I was young again, thirteen years old and madly in love with at least three girls at the same time.
The song was apparently sung by Bill Forbes also known as Kal Khan. He was born in Colombo in Sri Lanka and went to the UK at the age of 17 to become a singer and star.
This song had a long history. It first became a hit in 1960 when it was recorded by the Lawrence Welk orchestra and also became no 1 in the Billboard ( USA) in 1961. However it really became the rage after Bill Forbes ( Kal Khan) decided to give it his unique touch. It was released as a 45 Rpm record in 1967, two singles, with this song on one side and an equally enthralling Oh to be in England on the other side. This song too became very popular and we used to sing it all over school I remember. However it did not climb to No 1 on the British charts as the ladies of Calcutta did. I am told that this song was originally a German instrumental number titled Tivoli Melody and underwent several incarnations before the 1967 hit.
Bill Forbes retired from the music industry in 1975.
The words of the song went like this:

I kissed the chicks of Naples
Yand burnt my lips you see,
I also smooched some French birds
Ooh La La Sheri.. (who came from “Paree”)
The Swedish Dolls aare loverly
Oh yeash indeed they aare
But the ladies of Caalcutta
Arre sweeter by farr
The ladies of Calcutta will steal your heart away
Yand when it has been stolen you say
… Dhani Dhani Deh
YEnglish birds are gorgeous
They do something to me
But the ladies of Calcutta are Eastern you see
Dhani Dhani Dani Dhani Dhani Dhoni Dhadi dhani Dhani Dhadi deh
Yadi Goni Gana Dani Dhoni Dhani
This Jockey gives me a play
A Dhani Dhoni Dadi Dhani Gami Goni dadi dum de dani dadi Deh
A Dani Danithi dani Dadi Doni Dadi
please play this rec…ord all the way
The ladies of Calcutta will steal your heart away
Yand when it has been stolen you’ll say …
Dhani Dhani Deh
Yenglish birds are gorgeous
They do something to me
But the ladies of Calcutta are Eastern you see …
The You tube link is here
It really brings back memories of the ladies of Calcutta of those days. I am sure many of you share those memories and many have many memories of their own!


déjà vu said…
there's another version where RadioTelevisonMalaysia's english radio DJ, reezal abdullah used to play. i thought it was by the ray coniff singers, but no!

any idea?
Anonymous said…
Nice...I remember the song and the programs. I write a couple of blogs too and in one entry I reminisced about JS and the music programs.

The blogs may be found here:

Anonymous said…
Appreciating the dedication you put into your blog and in depth information you offer.
It's great to come across a blog every once in a while that isn't the same out of date
rehashed material. Fantastic read! I've saved your site and I'm including your RSS
feeds to my Google account.

my page Rur-Srv1.Raumplanung.Tu-Dortmund.De
Haunting memories of the good old days.

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