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Tribute Songs

The reason we have created a separate discography exclusively for Doctor Who tribute records, and the reason why you really won't find anything similar for Star Trek, Blake's 7, Battlestar Galactica or other sci-fi shows, is that Doctor Who really has inspired a frankly astonishing amount of spin-off songs. We're not just talking about re-arrangements of the theme tune (although there have been many), or tracks that have just sampled the series (although yes, we've had those too) - here we have fully blown pop songs, with proper choruses and catchy lyrics and everything, all about Doctor Who. It's remarkable, it's unprecedented, and it's quite fascinating, too. "There's magic in his hand, you ask and he may show it" indeed!

1964 - I'm Gonna Spend My Christmas With a Dalek

The Go-Go's: I'm Gonna Spend My Christmas With a Dalek
7" vinyl single, limited edition picture sleeve, December 1964
Oriole CB 1982

A. I'm Gonna Spend My Christmas With a Dalek
B. Big Boss Man

Composed by Les Vandyke
Produced by Johnny Worth

Click here to see the non-picture sleeve version

--> Lyrics / Compilation releases / Fan Video

The Go-Go's, a semi-professional group from Newcastle, released this short record just in time to hit the Christmas market of 1964. The musicians - according to a gem of a contemporary newspaper article - were Mike Johnson (19), Alan Cairns (20), Abe Harris (20), Bill Davison (22), Les McLeian (19) and Sue Smith (17), with writer and producer Les Vandyke appearing under the pseudonym of Johnny Worth to boost their numbers. The vocals were sung by Sue Smith (who put-on a child-like voice and mis-pwonounced her 'r's) and spoken by a male member of the group in the guise of a nasal-voiced Dalek - a format that presumably defined The Go-Go's style, for the B-side (a traditional R&B number) sounded exactly the same. The up-beat song was performed by several organs and electric guitars, with typically 60s "space" effects that fooled a contemporary reviewer into thinking that they were samples from the Doctor Who TV theme. Famously, a limited amount of copies came in a black and white picture sleeve, showing a cut-out Dalek frightening crowds in the high-street. Sue Smith even remembers standing in London with a Dalek for publicity purposes.

BBC Video issued a short section of the song on 'Daleks - The Early Years' in 1992, substituting for the lost soundtrack of a clip from The Daleks' Master Plan, with presenter Peter Davison emphasising the kitsch appeal of the Daleks' "very own pop record". The following year, BBC Radio 1 ended their 30th Anniversary Doctor Who facts week with an edited broadcast of the single, which Steve Wright mocked and decided was simply "ill-conceived". Such contempt has led to numerous mistakes in reports concerning the record. I'm Going To Spend My Christmas With A Dalek by The Go-Joes was a title used by Doctor Who Magazine in DWM 54 and regularly thereafter until a letter from Completely Useless Encyclopedia writers Chris Howarth and Steve Lyons in 1997 put them straight. Further reports have spoken of The Go Gos, The GoGos, The Go Go's or The Gogo's, and composer Les Vandyke was mistaken for a Van Dyke even in October 2000's Who is Dr Who sleeve notes.

The release of that CD, the first reprint of the song since the original release, sparked a revival of appreciation. DWM reviewer Vanessa Bishop found it all "terribly endearing" in January 2001, and London retailer The Who Shop showed their appreciation by offering a 1'06" WAV download of the original Doctor Who theme with vocal samples from the single overlaid, presented as a "Christmas message from the Daleks" in December 2000. As a press-cutting from 1964 concludes, "The kids will go for it in a big way, and the tune is catchy enough to keep the grown-ups' feet tapping".

1965 - Who's Who

Roberta Tovey with Orchestra conducted by Malcolm Lockyer: Who's Who
7" vinyl single, some in picture sleeve,* July 1965
Polydor 56021

A. Who's Who
B. Not So Old

Who's Who (Lockyer/Bev)
Not So Old (Lockyer/Bev/Winsley)

* According to the 1997 Record Collector article, although we've never seen one.

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This was one of two singles to spring from the highly successful 1965 Aaru Movie, Dr Who & the Daleks. Sung by actress Roberta Tovey and co-written by the film's incidental music composer, this apparently in-character novelty song has become a classic reminder of 60s Doctor Who, and its release highlights the power of Dalekmania (or rather of Polydor's faith in the public's desire for cash-ins). The songs innocence is only spoilt by the rather dubious B-side, where Tovey makes an older man promise to wait for her to grow up so that they can be together... or something. It's such a frightening experience we've only dared play it once.

In the 1990s Who's Who was dubbed over a compilation of clips showing Doctor Who companions in the highs and lows of fashion. This 0'35" edit contained three cuts, linking the opening bars, the middle instrumental section, and Tovey's final chorus before the repeat-to-fade. First matched for the 1992 TV documentary 'Resistance is Useless', the novelty soundtrack remained with the clips when they were lifted into subsequent TV documentaries. The clips are as follows:

The introductory line "I dig your fab gear" from The War Machines 1 / Zoe from The Invasion 8 / Victoria from The Web of Fear 1 / Jo from The Sea Devils 3 / Steven and Dodo from The Bomb / Sarah from The Hand of Fear 1 / Leela from The Robots of Death 3 / Zoe, Jamie and Isobel from The Invasion 5 / Jamie from The Moonbase 4 / Tegan from Resurrection of the Daleks 2 / Susan from The Pilot / Ace and Mel from Dragonfire 3 / Sarah from The Brain of Morbius 1 / Zoe and Isobel from The Invasion 2 / Dodo from The Bomb / Jo is told to "change out of that ridiculous garb" from The Daemons 4.

Released on video in 1994 (as part of 'More Than Thirty Years In The TARDIS', BBCV 5403), the sequence was last seen during Channel 4's 'Top Ten TV Sci-Fi' on 13 October 2001, where several clips were replaced with alternative shots of Peri from Planet of Fire and Romana from The Ribos Operation (apparently also taken from 'More Than Thirty Years'), and Who's Who was replaced by a 0'20" extract from Dance of the Daleks.

In 1993, Marvel's Doctor Who Yearbook featured a 'Terrible Tunes' Top 10, listing a chart of Doctor Who tributes hand-picked by MC 'Hammie' Howe (better known as author and collector David J Howe). Who's Who, by "the diminutive starlet Roberta Tovey", was described as "bouncy". The track was also mentioned in a Doctor Who Top Ten within Chris Howarth and Steve Lyons' Completely Useless Encyclopaedia in 1996, where it came eighth. "Ostensibly a film spin-off", they decided, "yet the lyrics refer to 'a man with long grey hair', and of course Peter Cushing's hair in the movies was rather short. Now, William Hartnell sported long white hair, so we seem to have a combination of the two characters. In our opinion, young Roberta was striving to reconcile the Who universe with this well-meaning, bridge-building song of peace."

1968 - Who's Dr. Who?

Frazer Hines: Who's Dr. Who?
7" vinyl single, October 1968
Major Minor MM 579

A. Who's Dr. Who?
B. Punch and Judy Man

Who's Dr. Who written by L. Reed & B. Mason
Punch and Judy Man written by T Scott
Produced by Tommy Scott
Musical Director: Nicky Welsh

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This pop song, performed by Frazer Hines (apparently in character, although accent-less, as Jamie McCrimmon) followed two earlier attempts by Hines to conquer the charts with his Doctor Who persona. Time Traveller, finally released in October 2000 on the Who Is Dr Who compilation, was a rock-'n'-roll-blues number penned by Frazer's brother Ian, shelved and forgotten in 1968. The second track, Jamie's Awae in His Time Machine, was written by the prestigious Alex Harvey, and although Hines remembers its release, nothing appears to have hit the shelves until the follow-up, Who's Dr Who?, a novelty track by Barry Mason and Les Reed featuring Frazer's nephews and producer Tommy Scott's sons on backing vocals. After this, Hines was gently reminded by his agent that perhaps he should be concentrating more on his career as an actor than as a pop star, and Jamie hasn't visited the studio since.

The track was mentioned in a Doctor Who Top Ten within Chris Howarth and Steve Lyons' Completely Useless Encyclopaedia in 1996, where it came seventh. "Frazer thought the popularity of Jamie would help him to achieve an ambition of pop-stardom", the book claimed. "The record-buying public thought otherwise." In November 2003, the instrumental intro to the song was featured within UK Gold's 'Doctor Who @ 40' weekend, playing as an example of the records the programme had spawned; and in March 2005, the sing-a-long chorus concluded a documentary about Jamie McCrimmon on The Mind Robber DVD, playing over the end credits.

When David Bailey wrote a feature on Doctor Who related records for Doctor Who Magazine (Issue 309, September/October 2001), he interviewed Frazer Hines. "I began to think, 'Actually, I'm going to be a millionaire pop star!", Hines remembered. "Les Reed and Barry Mason have just written these two hit singles, and I'm going to have the third one...' Well, I was the only flop they ever had!"

1969 - Dr Who (Bongo Herman & Les)

Bongo Herman and Les: Dr Who
7" vinyl single, 1969
Explosion (subsidiary of Trojan) EX2002

Released in Jamaica credited to The Crystalites (pictured, without sleeve), with the record code scratched into the vinyl: FDH 7134 RIL (vocal side) FDH 7138 DH (instrumental side). The copy obtained by TME has the instrumental track as SIDE A, which may be a label mis-print.

A: Dr Who Pt One
B: Dr Who Pt Two

(Former) address Trojan / B&C Recordings Ltd
326 Kensall Road, London W10 5 BL, England

--> Compilation Releases (Pt One only, as 'Doctor Who')

Bongo Herman and Les, real names Herman Davis and Les David, were members of The Crystalites during the Undertaker sessions in 1970. The duo played all the percussion on that LP, together with colleague Larry McDonald. From 1971 onwards, Bongo and Les were supported by a third percussionist, Eric 'Bingy Bunny' Lamont, and also recorded for other producers, including Harry Johnson, Winston Blake, Harry Mudie and Lee Perry - who produced his own Doctor Who tribute with I Roy & The Upsetters in 1973.

In the sleeve notes to the Fistful of Dollars CD, producer Derrick Harriot explains that "The number Dr. Who comes from a TV series which was very popular in Jamaica. People rushed home to watch that science fiction show." The single opens with a number of howls and screams, and a booming announcement: "From out of the unknown, here comes: Doctor Who!". A short drum roll introduces a laid-back bass and organ track, with occasional interruptions from the vocalist ("I like it!") and an organ tune that closely resembles the structure of the Doctor Who theme without actually making use of the melody. The B-side begins with the same eerie introduction and proceeds to offer a stripped-down version of the same track, without the organ melody and vocals. It's quite good, but aside from the opening dialogue (and the title, of course), it doesn't seem to have much to do with Doctor Who!

1972 - Who is the Doctor

Arranged, produced and written by
Rupert Hine and David Maclver
Jon Pertwee: Who is the Doctor
7" vinyl single, plain sleeve, December 1972
Purple PUR III

A. Who is the Doctor
B. Pure Mystery

Reissue #1: US 7" vinyl single, TARDIS picture sleeve, 1983
BBC/Gemcon BBC 453

B. The Sea Devils Malcolm Clarke

Reissue #2: 7" vinyl single, sunset picture sleeve, June 1985
Safari DOCTOR 1

B. Doctor...? Blood Donor

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This exceptional track was written and released as though it were a Deep Purple single, and is the only Doctor Who tribute track to star an in-character Doctor. Over a prog-rock arrangement of the Doctor Who theme, the Doctor tells us how completely brilliant he is in booming, echoing tomes - the first time that the theme tune had been given lyrics (of sorts)! A 1983 re-issue celebrated the series' Twentieth Anniversary (alongside re-issues of Bullamakanka's Doctor Who is Gonna Fix It and Peter Howell's K9 & Company) with an edited soundtrack suite from The Sea Devils on the B-side (lifted from the successful BBC Records LP Doctor Who - The Music), and a second re-issue appeared on the Safari label in 1985.

During the second leg of their 1998 European tour, Deep Purple incorporated the Doctor Who theme into a performance of Strange Kind of Woman at Sofia, Bulgaria, on 28th November. A review of the concert could be found at the Deep Purple website for a short time, where it was stated that the rendition - apparently exclusive to this performance - was the work of Steve Morse (on guitar) and Roger Glover (on bass); though whether it bore any resemblance to the version recorded some 26 years earlier, we will never know!

The track was restored by Mark Ayres for the Cherry Red compilation Who Is Dr Who in 2000, and digitally sourced from the original master tapes by Deep Purple themselves for release on a retrospective CD of the Purple label's multi-artist releases in 2004. Almost the full track played over the end credits to the 1994 video documentary, 'More Than Thirty Years in the TARDIS' (BBCV 5403), and was also used over the credits of 'Russell T Davies: Unscripted' (tx: BBC Four 11/04/05), a special TimeShift programme devoted to the writer's television career, particularly his influence by and eventual production of Doctor Who.

1973 - Doctor Who (I Roy & The Upsetters)

I Roy & The Upsetters: Doctor Who
Jamaican 7" vinyl single, 1973
Panther Records P68

A. Doctor Who
B. Doctor Who Version

--> Compilation releases

The vocalist on this strange Jamaican record talks his way through the whole track, with only the occasional discernable word. From what can be made out, he is advising his girlfriend, who has flu, to go and see the doctor, WHO will make her better. Perhaps he does mention the programme in one of his rambles, but since the music (which is tuneless reggae) and the vocals (which are mad) don't seem to make any sense, only the title links this crazy 7" to the British sci-fi show we're supposed to be talking about.

1978 - I am a Dalek

The Art Attacks: I am a Dalek
7" vinyl single, picture sleeve, February 1978
Albatross TIT 1

A. I am a Dalek
B. Neutron Bomb

Steve Spear - guitar
M.S. - bass
J.D. Haney - drums
Edwin - vocals

--> Back cover / Lyrics / Compilation releases

Punk rockers The Art Attacks made their debut on vinyl in late 1977, on the LP Live at Vortex, contributing live tracks Animal Bondage and Frankenstein's Heartbeat. Also released at the same time was the legendary Beggars Banquet compilation Streets which included the band's Arabs In 'Arrods, as well as artwork by vocalist Edwin Pouncey under the guise of 'Savage Pencil'. Their first solo single, I am a Dalek, came out in early 1978 on the Albatross label, and saw a noisy and energetic band thrashing between three chords and screaming their little hearts out impersonating Daleks. It's like the Sex Pistols meets pop culture!

The record is quite highly prized these days, not so much for the Doctor Who connection but because it is (apparently) thought of as an important punk record, particularly because of Pouncey's involvement. Happily this interest has resulted in some good remastered re-issues, and the track can currently be downloaded from iTunes and other online mp3 stores - an unusual boast for a vintage Doctor Who tribute! - and a live version was released on the Art Attacks' Outrage & Horror compilation in 1996.

The band's second single Punk Rock Stars was issued by Fresh Records (FRESH 3) in late 79, long after the band had split.