Irving Burgie: Composer who co-wrote Harry Belafonte hit Day-O dies aged 95

1 December 2019, 18:35 | Updated: 2 December 2019, 10:32

Irving Burgie, who co-wrote the Harry Belafonte hit Day-O (The Banana Boat Song) and helped to popularise Caribbean music in the 1950s, has died aged 95.

Burgie also penned the lyrics to the national anthem of his home nation Barbados, called In Plenty And In Time of Need.

He has been called one of the greatest composers of Caribbean music.

His death was announced by the Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley at the country's independence day parade.

Burgie's songs, which also included calypso tracks Island in the Sun and Jamaica Farewell, have sold over 100 million records worldwide.

Artists who recorded his tracks included Jimmy Buffett, Brian Wilson, Carly Simon, Chuck Berry and Sam Cooke.

Burgie along with William Attaway wrote the lyrics for the 1956 version of Day-O which was sung by Belafonte, known as the King of Calypso.

It was among eight of the 11 songs written by Burgie that featured on Belafonte's Calypso album - the first in history to sell more than one million copies in the US.

Day-O is thought to be based on a Jamaican folk song sung by dock workers during night shifts.

The track was featured in the film Beetlejuice and the Broadway musical of the same name.

It has been sampled by rapper Lil' Wayne and singer Jason Derulo, and was the wake-up call for astronauts on two Space Shuttle missions in the 1990s.

Burgie served in an all-black US army battalion in World War Two and used military benefits to pay for his music studies.

He studied at the Juilliard School of Music, University of Arizona and University of Southern California.

He then became a folk singer using the stage name Lord Burgess.