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What Does Orange Bird Have In Common With The Beatles?

posted on April 24th, 2012 by Greg Ehrbar, Writer/Author, Disney's Yellow Shoes Creative Group


For a character who never makes a sound, but communicates through bright orange thoughts that appear over his head, the Orange Bird seems an unlikely recording star—but he was, on several vinyl records that were sold at the Emporium on Main Street, U.S.A., in Magic Kingdom Park, as well as nationwide.


The Story and Songs of The Orange Bird was released by Disneyland Records as a 12-inch “Storyteller” album (featuring an 11-page illustrated book); select songs were found on a 7-inch 33 1/3 rpm “Four Complete Songs” record and two were released as a 45 rpm single “Little Gem” Record.


Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman wrote the wonderful songs for these records, one of which was called “I’ll Fly the Sky Way,” originally written for the Walt Disney Pictures animated feature, The Aristocats, as Thomas O’Malley’s theme, “My Way’s the Highway,” before Terry Gilkyson’s “Thomas O’Malley Cat” was finally chosen.

All of the music was conducted by Disney Legend Tutti Camarata (with orchestrations most likely by Brian Fahey) at the Abbey Road Studios in London.


You know Abbey Road. It’s that road the Fab Four walk over on their famous album. But there’s more of a connection between The Beatles and the Orange Bird than that. All of the Orange Bird songs had the glorious vocal backing of The Mike Sammes Singers, with Mike himself doing the lead vocal on the bluesy “A Cat Don’t Like.” Recently, the MeloD23 Singers paid tribute to the original recordings when they performed two of the songs—one with Richard Sherman himself. (Have you seen the video?)

In the ‘60s and ‘70s, The Mike Sammes Singers were Europe’s “go-to” vocal group for the biggest names in the music business, including Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Olivia Newton-John, Judy Garland, Sammy Davis, Jr. and Tom Jones, and they were heard in TV shows, commercials and movie themes.

“They were incredible, so professional and versatile,” Tutti told me back in 2005. “I could go into Abbey Road in the morning and, the same evening, walk out with a huge stack of completed tapes under my arm.”

The Mike Sammes Singers even sang backup for The Beatles, on the songs “I Am the Walrus” and “Good Night.” How’s that for a cool connection?


Now when you visit Sunshine Tree Terrace for your Citrus Swirl, or pick up the latest Orange Bird merchandise in Adventureland, if you somehow hear a “goo-goo-g’joob” somewhere in the distance (or in your head), you’ll know why.

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Filed: Disney History, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort

4 Comments 1 Reply


Paul on April 24th, 2012 at 11:54 am

As a record collector, there’s nothing more fun that stumbling across old Disneyland Records in various places. I’ve acquired quite the collection of old recordings this way and for rock bottom prices. I’ll have my eye peeled for Mr. Bird.


Kyra on April 24th, 2012 at 6:30 pm

That’s so cool! I love the Beatles.


Salvatore from FL on April 25th, 2012 at 1:20 am

That’s a cool connection. The other Beatles/Disney story I always found intriguing albeit sad, was that John Lennon signed the papers officially and ending the Beatles as a business in 1974 by the pool at the Polynesian Resort.


Greg Ehrbar on April 25th, 2012 at 11:07 am

I did not know that, Salvatore. But I have read that the Beatles’ song, “Do You Want to Know a Secret” has lyrics inspired by “I’m Wishing” — and also that John was fond of the “Annette Sound” developed by Tutti and the Shermans.


Elizabeth from GA on April 27th, 2012 at 11:01 pm

Although I never went to Disney when the Orange Bird was there, I do remember seeing pictures of it growing up- it is so cute! but what did bring back memories for me from this blog is the “storyteller albums” I had quite a few of those, and loved reading along with the books. Cinderella was my favorite of the albums!