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Retro Redux: Bent Fabric Is For Real

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Although his name might sound like a piece of clothing in dire need of ironing, Bent Fabric — who had a huge Grammy-winning hit in the early '60s with the annoyingly addictive "Alley Cat" — is a real person.

The Danish-born composer and pianist, whose actual name is the much trickier to remember Bent Fabricius-Bjerre, got his start in professional music as a jazz musician in post-World War II Denmark. His early efforts mostly involved playing in small combos, but by 1950 he was enough of a veteran to start his own record label. Over the next decade he continued to work in various musical ventures including some film soundtrack work, but in 1961 things changed in a big way.

It all began with the Danish release of his performance of a playful little tune he'd written. It was a piece that actually started life as "Omkring et Flygel" ("Around a Piano") and the record did very well in Denmark, but when it was released to the rest of the world as "Alley Cat," it became an international best-seller. Along the way it became one of those songs that's a guilty pleasure but for some, but maddeningly unforgettable for others.

Although Fabric has never again approached the chart-busting success of his big record, a similar follow-up called "Chicken Feed" sold some records too. Forty years later, a dance remix of some of his music was issued under the name "Jukebox" and managed to get into the Top Ten on the dance/club charts (see animated video below). But it hasn't always been about chart success for Fabric. For many years he has been a respected arranger and composer, and has made many special appearances. Now in his eighties, he still lives and works in Denmark — and usually goes by his full name, Bent Fabricius-Bjerre.

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