Throwback Thursday – The Candy Man (1972)

This week in 1972 The Candy Man, performed by Sammy Davis, Jr hit Nº1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and stayed there for 3 weeks. Unbelievably, it was Sammy’s only Nº1 hit and ended up spending a total of 21 weeks on the charts. The song was originally written for the 1971 movie Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory and was written by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley specifically for the film.

Though Sammy admittedly hated the song, finding it too ‘sickly sweet’, it eventually became the most successful track of his career and his signature song. After he reluctantly agreed to record the song, he rushed through it in two takes before heading to Vietnam to entertain the troops. "This record is going straight into the toilet," he complained at the time. "Not just around the rim but into the bowl, and it may just pull my whole career down with it." (Source Mojo magazine).

The song has been covered by so many artists over the years and used as theme tunes for many shows. Chris Evans originally played the song on his popular drive time BBC Radio 2 show every Friday afternoon. Once he replaced Terry Wogan on the breakfast show in January 2010, he has continued to play the tune every Friday morning, immediately following the 8:00 am news. The song was also used on a TV trailer, promoting his new breakfast show.

In the 2005 film Madagascar when Alex the Lion is shot with a tranquilizer dart, he has a psychedelic experience with the Sammy Davis, Jr. version of The Candy Man playing throughout.

The Simpsons have parodied the song in the episode Trash of the Titans as The Garbage Man Can, which briefly features U2.

Conan O'Brien's 77th show of Conan was titled The Candy Man Can't.


R.I.P. Sammy Davis Jr (1925-1990)

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