'Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da' is better known as a Marmalade song than a Beatles one, says band's lead singer

2 October 2023, 11:52

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By Mayer Nissim

Ob-la-di, ob-la-da, life goes on, brah!

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Who do you think of first when you read the words 'Ob-la-di, ob-la-da'?

According to Marmalade's current frontman Sandy Newman, 'Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da' is better known as a song by his band than it is by The Beatles, who wrote the track and released it first.

Paul McCartney borrowed the title from his Nigerian pal Jimmy Scott and 'Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da' was recorded over 42 hours in several sessions before finding its place on The Beatles (aka The White Album), released in November 1968.

While the song is definitely catchy, the rest of the band – and especially John Lennon – weren't keen and vetoed the idea of The Beatles releasing it as a single in the UK or US, though it did top the charts in Australia, West Germany and other territories.

Instead, Marmalade rush-recorded and released their own version before the year was out, and took it all the way to number one in the UK, selling half a million copies around the world and a million globally.

Marmalade - Ob La Di, Ob La Da (1968)

"There is no doubt that Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da is known more for being a Marmalade song than it is for being a Beatles track," Sandy Newman told The Scottish Sun.

"It's still the song we play at the end of our set and the one that always gets everyone up dancing."

He added: "But a little while back I got a call out of the blue from Paul McCartney’s monitor engineer John Callis, who used to work for us.

Marmalade in 2023
Marmalade in 2023. Picture: Marmalade

"He asked us to be part of a charity show that Paul was arranging. When we turned up he said Paul couldn't be there but would I mind recording a video message for him as he likes to see what's going on.

"So I ended up standing there talking to camera and the only thing I could think of saying was, 'Thank you for writing a song that changed my life'.

"And it's true. It did change my life because Marmalade wouldn't still be going if it hadn't been for Paul's 'Obi-La-Di, Ob-La-Da'."

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da (Remastered 2009)

Sandy joined Marmalade in 1975 after the departure of the group's original frontman Dean Ford.

He joined original bassist and singer Graham Knight, though other founding members Patrick Fairley and William Junior Campbell had already left the band by then.

In 1976, the Newman-fronted Marmalade scored a top ten hit with 'Falling Apart at the Seams', written by Tony Macaulay - the co-writer of Edison Lighthouse's 'Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)'.