January 21, 2020 by Don Russo
January 28th is known as National Kazoo Day, a day to celebrate one of the most accessible and underrated instruments of all time. A relatively recent musical invention, Alabama Vest of Macon Georgia made the first Kazoo in the 1840’s, though commercial production of the Kazoo didn’t occur until many years later in 1912. Requiring no training, anyone can rock a kazoo by simply humming into the instrument. Because of this, and the inherently goofy sound, it’s an instrument that can always make a song that much more fun. To celebrate this zippy little underdog of the instrument family, here are some examples of kazoos featured in songs from massively influential artists!
But first, here’s a fun video about the history of the kazoo, created for the Kazoo Museum:
Lovely Rita by The Beatles
This track, one of many bouncy multi-instrumental compositions on this multi-colored wonderland of an album, features a very important kazoo moment. While this song also featured mouth percussion and other strange choices, not to mention its curious subject matter (Paul McCartney falling for a meter maid who gave him a parking ticket), the seamless deployment of the kazoo cemented the instrument in the discography of the greatest pop ensemble of all time.
She’s Bought A Hat Like Princess Marina by The Kinks
Almost a spiritual cousin to the Beatles song, this track also features a mix of interesting instruments (harpsichord, honking horns) and ample amounts of that British bounce. However, once this song reaches its hard right turn into rock territory, it is flanked by searing kazoos that fill out the sonic wall before it reaches its second twist into a sped-up refrain. Quite a strange, very English, journey!
Corporal Clegg by Pink Floyd
It shouldn’t surprise you that there is a kazoo in this cacophonous, super heavy, mega-70’s jam from these psychedelic rock godfathers. In a moment of pure jubilation, an orchestra of kazoos breaks through the fuzzy din to deliver a rousing melody. Be sure to check out the music video to see Floyd at peak haircut!
Crosstown Traffic by The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Another classic example, this song features a kazoo that carries the curl of a Hendrix riff. A solid, excessively fun song, the kazoos pan in stereo and carry the song nearly the whole way. A brilliant tribute to a brilliant instrument!