Dancing In The Moonlight

Album: Dancing In The Moonlight (1973)
Charted: 13


  • This song envisions a place of joy and harmony, where everyone gets along dancing under the moonlit sky.

    It was written by the keyboard player/songwriter Sherman Kelly in 1969 after a trip to the Caribbean island of Saint Croix, where he was attacked by natives and left for dead. While he was recovering from his injuries, he wrote this song. "I envisioned an alternate reality," Kelly wrote on this website. "The dream of a peaceful and joyful celebration of life."
  • The first band to record this song was Boffolongo, which was fronted by Larry Hoppen. The group recorded their debut album in 1969, and for their next album, released in 1970, Sherman Kelly joined the band on keyboards and brought them his song "Dancing In The Moonlight." Kelly's brother Wells also joined the band; this original version of the song featured Hoppen on guitar, Sherman on lead vocals, and Wells on drums.

    In 1971, Wells Kelly paid a visit to the band King Harvest, who were working on a new album in Paris (his former Boffolongo bandmate Dave "Doc" Robinson was in the band). Wells came armed with some albums from America and also a copy of Boffolongo's "Dancing In The Moonlight," which King Harvest decided to record, this time with a more keyboard-driven sound and smoother production. The single, with lead vocals by Robinson, was released in Europe but stiffed; it was rescued by an American label called Perception Records that issued the song Stateside.

    The song ended up being an enduring hit for the band, and their only song to make much of an impact ("A Little Bit Like Magic" made #91 a few months later). Sherman Kelly joined the group on tour after the song hit the charts.

    Wells Kelly, who died in 1984, founded the group Orleans in 1972 with Larry Hoppen.
  • British band Toploader had a #7 hit in the UK with a cover of this after it was featured in a Sainsbury supermarket TV advert.
  • Every line of the lyric ends with a word rhyming with "light":

    Everybody here is out of sight
    They don't bark and they don't bite
    They keep things loose they keep it tight
    Everybody's dancing in the moonlight

    Around this same time, there was another hit with a similar rhyming scheme: "I Saw The Light" by Todd Rundgren.
  • This song was used in the TV miniseries The '70s. In it, one of the female main characters happens to be present at the recording, where the band is using the lyrics "Singing In the Moonlight." The young girl comments that she personally likes "Dancing" in the moonlight and they change the lyrics. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Daina - Medina, NY
  • The Swedish electronic duo Jubel recorded a dance cover featuring vocals by their fellow country woman Neimy. Released in 2018, it peaked at #9 in Sweden and #11 in the UK two years later.

Comments: 16

  • Tony from San DiegoHell yeah Zen !!!! I loves me some Lizzy too !
  • Randy from Houghton Lake, MiThe song was written in 1968 by Sherman Kelly, whose brother, Wells Kelly – King Harvest's drummer in the early 1970s – introduced the song to the band.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn October 22nd 1972, "Dancing in the Moonlight" by King Harvest entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #90; and seventeen weeks later on February 18th, 1973 it peaked at #13 {for 2 weeks} and spent 22 weeks on the Top 100...
    The sextet had one other record make the Top 100 chart, "A Little Bit Like Magic", it stayed on the chart for 4 weeks, peaking at #91.
  • Jef from Passaic, NjThe King Harvest version is often wrongly primarily attributed to Van Morrison, Elvis Costello or "Kink Harris" due to incorrect labeling on various digital download services. Neither Morrison nor Costello has actually recorded a version of "Dancing in the Moonlight", and "Kink Harris" does not exist. The original recording of the song is also sometimes misattributed to Toploader, who released a cover of the song in 2000 that reached the Top Ten in the UK Singles Chart, higher than any previous version. The Toploader cover has also been used in the films A Walk to Remember and Four Lions. A musical number of the song is featured in Richard Wenk's comedic short, Dracula Bites the Big Apple.
  • Danny from Indianapolis, InI always thought that it was an undercover werewolf song: I am not a werewolf, but I always liked that song.
  • Joel from Laguna Hills, CaAlthough I wasn't even born when this song first came out I think it is cool. Seriously cool with a great uptempo. A perfect song to play at Fall harvest or school dances.
  • Esskayess from Dallas, TxMy brother and I called it the Doggy Song as kids, because of "they donâ
  • Kevin from Reading , PaKing Harvest is the name of a song by the Band on their classic 1968 album. In fact, the song sounds like it could have been a Band song in that era, though it's got that commercial production touch that the Band just couldn't be bothered with.
  • Sebastian from Providence, RiThis song was use for a Walmart ad. Saw it on TV.
  • Hendrixlover from Does It Matter?, CaThis song is a classic. I've known the lyrics since I was like 6. Awesome stuff, I love the classics =D
  • Kingharvest from Florida, FlRe: Dancing in the Moonlight.....Check out our website at http://www.myspace.com/kingharvest
    David, That's cool that Ronny's father was your doctor.
  • David from Lakeland, FlThe guy who plays keyboards on this song is Ron Altbach from Newfane NY and his father was Dr Walter Altbach the guy who delivered me at Newfane Hospital. Dr. Altbach was a former prisoner in a concentration camp durring world war 2.
  • Christina from Fopo, NyI think this is a great song. Always makes me smile. It's my ringtone!!
  • Monika from Saint Marys, GaI like Toploader's version too!
  • Sandy from Warsaw, InLove this song!! It is awesome!! Its in Walk To Remember!
  • Zen from Kings Langley, Englandwhere the hell is dancing in the moonlight by thin lizzy!???
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Mike Scott of The Waterboys - "Fisherman's Blues"

Mike Scott of The Waterboys - "Fisherman's Blues"They're Playing My Song

Armed with a childhood spent devouring books, Mike Scott's heart was stolen by the punk rock scene of 1977. Not surprisingly, he would go on to become the most literate of rockers.


AC/DCFact or Fiction

Does Angus really drink himself silly? Did their name come from a sewing machine? See if you can spot the real stories about AC/DC.

Adam Duritz of Counting Crows

Adam Duritz of Counting CrowsSongwriter Interviews

"Mr. Jones" took on new meaning when the song about a misguided view of fame made Adam famous.

Krishna Das

Krishna DasSongwriter Interviews

The top chant artist in the Western world, Krishna Das talks about how these Hindu mantras compare to Christian worship songs.

Richard Marx

Richard MarxSongwriter Interviews

Richard explains how Joe Walsh kickstarted his career, and why he chose Hazard, Nebraska for a hit.

Millie Jackson

Millie JacksonSongwriter Interviews

Outrageously gifted and just plain outrageous, Millie is an R&B and Rap innovator.