Bill Forbes (Kal Kahn)

Bill Forbes - 1

Bill Forbes was born in Colombo, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), educated at St. Peter’s College in the suburb of Bambalapitiya. At 17, he went to Britain to pursue his dreams of becoming a famous singer. He auditioned for the new and popular Oh Boy! show and was accepted, making his debut singing an upbeat spiritual song “God’s Little Acre”, picked for him by the producer Jack Good. Shortly afterward, he was signed by Columbia. He most successful recording was a cover of “Too Young” which reached no. 29 in UK’s NME Chart during December 1959. In Ceylon, “Too Young / It’s Not The End Of The World” was a double-sided no. 1 hit in early 1960, beaming proudly on the overseas English Services of the venerable Radio Ceylon, celebrating her famous son. Meanwhile, Bill was inspired by the successful comical song “Goodness Gracious Me” sang by Peter Sellers and Sophia Loren. He decided to record his own “baila” styled (Ladies of) Calcutta* and Aa-Chaa England (“Oh to be in England”, composed by Bill Forbes) under the name of Kal Kahn in 1964. Both songs are considered classics. Bill Forbes gave up show business in 1975 and settled in Huddersfield, UK. He is regarded as the first Sri Lankan solo artist ever to secure a recording contract and a hit recording outside his native country.

*Calcutta was originally a German instrumental titled Tivoli Melody composed by Heino Gaze. It was retitled Take Me Dreaming, then Nicolette, and Werner Muller Orchestra recorded it as Kalkutta Liegt am Ganges. Lawrence Welk Orchestra recorded it as Calcutta which became no. 1 on Billboard (USA) in 1961. The Four Preps also charted it in the same year with lyrics from Paul J. Vance and Lee Pockriss.

Bill Forbes - Oh Boy 1959 (2)Bill Forbes at the Oh Boy!

(LADIES OF CALCUTTA)

I kissed the chicks of Naples
Yand burnt my lips you see,
I also smooched some French birds
Ooh La La Sheri.. (who came from “Paree”)

The Swedish Dolls aare loverly
Oh yeash indeed they aare
But the ladies of Caalcutta
Arre sweeter by farr
The ladies of Calcutta will steal your heart away
Yand when it has been stolen you say
… Dhani Dhani Deh

YEnglish birds are gorgeous
They do something to me
But the ladies of Calcutta are Eastern you see

Dhani Dhani Dani Dhani Dhani Dhoni Dhadi dhani Dhani Dhadi deh
Yadi Goni Gana Dani Dhoni Dhani
This Jockey gives me a play
A Dhani Dhoni Dadi Dhani Gami Goni dadi dum de dani dadi Deh
A Dani Danithi dani Dadi Doni Dadi
please play this rec…ord all the way

The ladies of Calcutta will steal your heart away
Yand when it has been stolen you’ll say …
Dhani Dhani Deh
Yenglish birds are gorgeous
They do something to me
But the ladies of Calcutta are Eastern you see …

Credits: Hillary Jay, for the introduction and sharing of music and songs from Sri Lanka, formerly Ceylon.

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