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This song reached #1 on the US pop charts, which is astounding for a song sung a cappella (without instruments). McFerrin recorded it using only his body to make all the sounds.
There were rumors that McFerrin attempted suicide after doing this song, and they are not true. However the rumors became so strong that even to this day people think Bobby is dead. This is untrue, he is alive and well. (thanks, Steven - Arlington Heights, IL, for above 2)
The phrase "Don't Worry Be Happy" came from the Indian guru Meher Baba. In an interview with USA Weekend
magazine, McFerrin explained that he saw a poster of Meher Baba with the phrase and thought it was "a pretty neat philosophy in four words." See the poster in Song Images
This was featured in the films Cocktail (1988) and Casper - A Spirited Beginning (1997).
This won 1988 Grammy Awards for Best Pop Vocal Performance and Song Of The Year.
George H. W. Bush used this in his 1988 US presidential campaign but stopped doing so after McFerrin objected.
The phrase "Don't Worry Be Happy" was used in some cases to criticize people with a rosy outlook on the world, as if they were oblivious to problems. The most notable use of the phrase in this context came from the Rap group Public Enemy in their song "Fight The Power" when vocalist Chuck D declared: "Don't Worry Be Happy was a number one jam. Damn, if I say it you can slap me right here." Chuck later explained that he had no animosity toward McFerrin or this song, but was using the phrase as a call to action. (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France)
Robin Williams appears in the video, as does the lesser-known comedian Bill Irwin.
The Real Nick Drake
The head of Drake's estate shares his insights on the late folk singer's life and music.
Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake & Palmer
Greg talks about writing songs of "universal truth" for King Crimson and ELP, and tells us about his most memorable stage moment (it involves fireworks).
Pete produced Dwight Yoakam, Michelle Shocked, Meat Puppets, and a very memorable track for Roy Orbison.