Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day: 1976 George Baker Selection – Paloma Blanca

Henk Kramer formed the Soul Invention band in the Netherlands in the late sixties. They primarily played covers of Memphis soul songs by groups like Sam and Dave and Otis Redding.

Hans Bouwens joined the group and began using the stage name of George Baker. After he joined, the group was no longer recording soul music, so they changed the name of the band to The George Baker Selection for their first album in 1969.

George and bass player Jan Visse had written a song entitled Little Greenback. The word “greenback” was used to rhyme with “track” in the song. The group re-titled the song to Little Green Bag on their album but continued to sing “greenback.” George went back to work at his job at a lemonade factory where he heard the band’s record being played on the radio. Within a few weeks, the record was selling well. It reached #21 on the US Hot 100 and sold over a million copies worldwide. Their next single also reached #2 on the Dutch music chart, and George quit his job to pursue a full-time career in music. The group was part of a small Dutch invasion of the US, which also included the Shocking Blue (Venus) and the Tee-Set (Ma Belle Amie).

The group continued to record albums and release singles but charted primarily in the Netherlands and New Zealand over the next few years. Most members left the group and were replaced.

In 1975, the group again hit most charts with Paloma Blanca, a single from their fifth album. George wrote and produced the song. He described it as being about a poor South American farmer who works hard all day and then leans back against a tree and dreams of the freedom of being a large white bird. That dream struck a chord with listeners, and the record sold over 7 million copies. The single reached the top of the charts in at least a dozen countries. The single only reached #26 on the Hot 100 in January 1976 but also reached #1 on the US Adult Contemporary chart and #33 on the US Country chart.

The band split up in 1978 to escape the pressures of being a successful international band but reformed in 1982 for another seven years. After that, they disbanded permanently.

The song Little Green Bag became popular again in 1992 when it was used on the soundtrack of Reservoir Dogs. It also topped the Japanese singles chart that year after being used in a whiskey commercial.


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