Rocky Raccoon sheet music; pictured here are its two very famous composers
There have been countless covers of Beatles songs over the decades, but surely one of the most regrettable has to be the version Raquel Welch and Bob Hope essayed of “Rocky Raccoon,” an original and enjoyable song off of side 2 of The White Album. The cover version Welch and Hope executed wasn’t a record, it was part of Raquel!, a Raquel Welch TV special that aired on CBS in 1970—DM’s Richard Metzger once described it as “a camp time capsule full of Bob Mackie dresses, Paco Rabanne spacesuits and Bob Hope singing “Rocky Raccoon” wearing a Davey Crockett hat.” Welch and Hope had a close relationship, she was a staple of his USO tours, one (perhaps two?) that the troops were always overjoyed to see.
The western motifs McCartney employed in his ditty provided the producers with an irresistible opportunity to put together a slapstick pastiche sketch à la The Monkees or Laugh-In or Benny Hill. Not that there’s anything wrong with that per se, but the gags are pretty lazy. Welch can’t pass up the chance to do Mae West, and I’m not sure if whatever Hope is doing qualifies as Sprechgesang or Sprechstimme, but it ain’t singing (he sounded better doing “Thanks for the Memory”). Welch’s voice, however, is very nice but she makes no effort to capture the spirit of the original.
John Lennon got the last word on this subject. As Geoffrey Giuliano reported in Blackbird: The Life and Times of Paul McCartney, Lennon’s quote on the subject ran, “I saw Bob Hope doing it once on the telly years ago, I just thanked God it wasn’t one of mine.”
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Raquel Welch in campy 70’s TV variety show (with space dancers)