Zero to 180 – Three Minute Magic

Discoveries of a Pop Music Archaeologist

King’s “Tequila” Knock-Off

King Records, who no doubt envied the massive success of “Tequila” by The Champs, did their level best to cash in, as Johnnie Pate‘s 1958 Federal 45 “Muskeeta” clearly demonstrates, with the flute (substituting for sax) as the lead instrument:

“Muskeeta” by Johnny Pate (1958)

Recorded in Chicago on March 20, 1958 for Federal Records, along with one other track “Pretty One.”

Johnny Pate — Bass

Donald Clark — Drums

Wilbur Wynne — Guitar

Williams Wallace — Piano

Ronald Wilson — Flute

Cash Box‘s April 19, 1958 review acknowledged the structural similarities, though not in a bad way necessarily:

Pate sets his flute to a “Tequila”-like backdrop and hands in an exciting side.  At mid point a voice belts out the word “Muskeeta.”  Good mambo rock ‘n roll.

According to Armin Büttner‘s Johnnie Pate history website, the version of “Muskeeta” on the French EP (below) is exactly the same as the version on King LP 584, but for a tenor sax probably overdubbed by Ronald Wilson himself.  It is not yet known, which version of “Muskeeta” is on Federal 45-12325.

Johnnie Pate - Muskeeta - French EPThis would not be the first time King Records would attempt to mine this particular vein, as Zero to 180’s lengthy examination of “Rare & Unissued King Tracks” revealed another 45 released that same year, “Snake Charmer” by The Puddle Jumpers that attempted to ride the coattails of “Tequila” and its unexpected meteoric ride.

Billboard‘s April 21, 1958 edition reports that “Muskeeta” made the #5 spot of “R&B Best Sellers” that week in the Cincinnati area.  Song would be included on 1958 full-length release Swingin’ Flute Dance Beat for the Ivy League.

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