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The Story of „Mambo No 5“

„My son was convinced at the age of 20

that he will release an international hit record!

I really don´t know how he gained

that self-confidence at that time!"

- Goar B's father

Chapter 1 – Goar B

His guitar was one of his best friends, since the age of 12. Everybody around him was fascinated about how he was able to play it just by ear, without taking any lessons of a guitar teacher. At this time his passion for music started to grow and until he turned 30, he played in several different bands to find his own style. Every kind of music, whether Jazz, Blues, Rock or Funk was interesting to him, so he moved through them quickly, but fascinated as a little child who never wants to grow up.

Chapter 2 – The Formation Of Unicade Music

1996 Goar B became self-employed as a music producer by starting his own business in Munich. Unicade Music was born.

His first project „Balibu“ included the young DJ Olé Wierk (better known as one of the two masterminds of Groove Coverage) and the, at this time unknown rapper, called David Lubega (later to be known as Lou Bega). In 1997 they released the single „Let´s come together“ in this constellation, that was published by East West Records/Warner Music

Chapter 3 – Lou Bega

Goar B already produced Hip-Hop music at 1996, but unfortunatley had to learn that the german mainstream radio was lagging behind. One journalist even told him, that rap is to be considered as speaking and not as music.

He therefore had to think about composing something that includes the musical style of Rap, fusioned with Pop, and finally reached out to David Lubega.

At first Lou Bega was not enthusiastic at all about his suggestion. He told Goar B, that he´s not a singer and doesn’t even play a single instrument. The music producer convinced Lou Bega and finally he started to be open for the new project, including latin influences, that are a result of Goar B being a fan of Santana.

In this time he also collaborated with a hip-hop formation called „Die 5 Freunde“ (i.e. The 5 Friends), and realized quickly that the member „Zippy“ (Christian Königseder) is a great arranger, when it comes to music, created by the help of computer programs. Zippy then left the hip-hop formation and started to work together with Lubega & Goar B on their new musical concept. In the period of a year a number of songs like „Tangoman“ for example were created. Goar B coached both of them when it comes to becoming a better songwriter.

Chapter 4 – How Mambo No. 5 was created

The idea of putting „Mambo No. 5“ together was developed, because Warner Music was searching for a latin track to be included in a movie called „Das merkwürdige Verhalten Geschlechtsreifer Großstädter zur Paarungszeit“ that time. He heard about it and immediately asked to submit more tracks for their request.

Rita Flügge – these day´s head of the marketing department – gave some Latin CDs, she received by Warner, for inspiration to Goar B, and he immediately fell in love with the trumpet part of Perez Prado´s instrumental version of „Mambo No. 5“. B felt like something was missing tho. So he decided to produce a whole new track including vocals and therefore asked Zippy and Lou Bega, to start working on something really amazing. Together hey developed „Mambo No. 5 (A little bit of)“, which ended completely different, than the original song and called it „Mambo No. 5 (A little bit of)“, because they used „a little bit of“ Padro, meaning the sample.

Chapter 5 – Record Labels

Mambo No. 5 (A Little Bit Of ) was not picked to appear on the film. After that, Goar B offered the song in over 40 meetings along with 8 more tracks to various record labels.

Just because of Goar B´s iron will and firm believe in the song, Peter Meisel assured the release over his new sub-label „Lautstark“, of the BMG

Chapter 6 – Creation Of The Image

Goar B had to think about the perfect image for his artist Lou Bega, so he dressed him up in a certain style of way, including a white suite from the 50s, a „Borsalino“ hat and escorted by brasilian dancers. He also invented his artist´s name „Lou Bega“, inspirated by his real name David Lubega.


Chapter 7 – The First Release

You can´t say that it was successful right from the start. It became big, when they played the song for the first time on the radio. Boom! A Hit was born.

A lot of people showed interest in the single. He even got a strange and surprising offer to replace his artist with another one, who was not famous at that ime. They made him a really good offer, but Goar B rejected, as he wanted to support his artist all by hisself. Lou Bega was a close friend to him, and even kind of a son to B, as his father died shortly before the release.

Mambo No. 5 was number 1 for 4 weeks straight, as the Backstreet Boys released their new single with the help of a huge marketing campagne. They couldn´t get Goar B & Lou Bega off of the throne tho and therefore had to be pleased with the second place. For the period of 17 weeks straight, „Mambo No. 5“ was number 1 of the german single charts and 1.7 million copies were sold during that time.

Mambo No. 5 is the first song in the history of „Wetten, dass..?“, a big TV format in Germany, that was played twice, because of the seemingly never ending applause given by the audience.

Chapter 8 – Music Video

At first the record label tried to create a music video by theirselves, but stopped the process, before it was submitted to VIVA, as the concept had nothing to do with the image Goar B created for Lou Bega. B was completely shocked about it. After that he got a call from Andy Selleneit, the CEO of the record label, in which he offered the same budget to him, as used for the inappropiate version of the video, but with the twist, that he had to finish it within 3 days. „No problem.“ he said to himself and accepted his offer. Working these three days straight, without sleeping at all, he ultimately produced the perfect video.

Goar B later invested all by hisself in more music videos to be produced for tracks of the album, which was restrictedly sold in selected countries.

Chapter 9 – International Releases

At this point Goar and Lou thought about going international! He had big plans for his star and wanted to put the whole world to his feet. So he worked a lot and invested like crazy to make their big dream become reality. B even recruited 10 employees just to make Lou Bega become an international star. Andy Selleneit, CEO of BMG at this time, noticed his will to succeed and made it possible for Goar B to fly to the important sister companies located all over the world.

After these companies assured the release, Goar B spent some more time with Lou Bega in these countries. It has to be at least 150.000 miles per year they flew, as B accompanied Lou to every of his important performances, interviews, and award shows. This meant for him to handle a lot in a short period of time or simple to become a professional.

Chapter 10 – Release In England

„Mambo No. 5“ was already number 1 of several european countrie´s single charts. Except of England. They didn’t wanted to publish the song at first, but english travelers imported the song to the UK. A huge pre-order of over 400.000 exemplares was made. Because of that, BMG finally decided to publish it, but the sister companies BMG/RCA in the USA still didn´t wanted to release the song. Goar B knew from the beginning that the single will be successful in the US. After he shared that in an interview with „MusikWoche“, a music magazine from Germany, people of the music industry reached out to him and told him that he won´t make it, as too many failed, trying exactly that.

Chapter 11 – Release In The USA

Goar B had a three month overplus on the rights in the countries, BMG didn’t wanted to publish in. Shortly before the deadline,  he met Jim Welch, the A&R Manager of Sony Music from New York, that was in Germany at this time. He confirmed the release after the three month, and informed BMG about it. At the last day of the three month overplus came, the leader of the „Business Affairs“ department of BMG, Rolf Gilbert, called Goar B, asking him to extend the deadline by 1 day.

Goar B accepted and right before midnight he got a fax with the assurance of releasing the song. B was the CEO and every decision was made by him. In this time his monthly mobile phone bills were worth the rent of a house.

Chapter 12 – Submanagement In The USA

He wanted to have everything perfectly organized, and therefore recruited a sub-management company from Los Angeles. Goar B and his artist had to confim that Lou Bega will be available for a period of 9 months for interviews and promotion in the USA and therefore got an appartment in Los Angeles. It was the time of his life.

But leaving Germany wasn´t as easy as expected. Shortly before they crossed the ocean, his booker directly contacted Lou Bega, and told him that it was a bad idea to leave, and that he would lose a lot of money that way, which he could easily make by giving concerts in Europe. Goar B and Lou Bega decided to try it tho.

Chapter 13 – Concerts & Successes

In the USA „Mambo No. 5 (A Little Bit Of…) became the fastest growing title to be the number one of the american airplay charts. During a meeting with the head of distribution from RCA, he told Goar B proud, that he thinks, that they will easily sell up to a million records, and already 800.000 copies were sold at this point.

Goar B then responded, that he sees the potential of over two million sold records. Just because how he really felt about the situation, not because of megalomania.

 Because the record label stopped investing in marketing after they sold 800.000 copies, Goar B cooperated more and more with the sublabel. He ultimately toured with Lou Bega, as the special guest act of Cher´s last roadshow. They played in 24 north american cities, and B took care about the whole show of his star. At the end of this tour they sold 3.5 million albums, and achived triple platinum status.

After they „conquered“ North America, they traveled to South America, Japan, and among others, India.

The End

It was the time of my life, even when I was disappointed with people of the music business. I experienced a lot, and I´m thankful for that.

Interestingly there´s a distinct incongruity between the people that claim to have had impact on our success, and those who really helped us out.

With our album release „A Little Bit Of Mambo“, we barely won every prize, that can be awarded internationally, and received a Grammy Nomination.

But what´s much more important to me is that I realized that music is an universal language that connects people from all around the world. That´s what inspired me to found the „G-Culture“ initiative www.g-culture.com.

Research and Interview:

Elisa Hoth