“Flying Purple People Eater”


Ok, so now I had a radio I could carry around, but this was Portland, Oregon in 1959. If you are young, you probably think Portland is a place on the cutting edge, full of hipsters, restaurants, naked bike rides and legal marijuana. Forget all that. In 1959, Portland was solidly, boringly, dead. There was no radio station to hear music that was new. But in 1959, radio station KISN began broadcasting and even listing the top 50 songs every week. Unlike people in big cities, we had no choice of stations, nor were we able to pick up signals from other cities, since they were hundreds or thousands of miles away. So everyone under 20 listened to KISN.

And what were we listening to in 1959? Well, one of my best friend’s and my favorites was the “Flying Purple People Eater.” Its redeeming quality? There was none. But it was certainly fun to sing at inappropriate times such as when our mother asked “Who did that?” We could respond, “It must have been that one eyed one horned flying purple people eater.” Then when she remained unconvinced, we could single out any available sibling. (As a side note, one of the terrible things about having kids leave home is that there is no longer anyone to blame for things!)

“Purple People Eater” was just one of many terrific “novelty songs” of the 1950’s. Another that comes to mind was “Splish Splash.” Though Bobby Darin’s real hit was “Mack the Knife.”  Amusingly enough, my grandson loved the song about Mack the knife when he was four years old. He liked to shout out “look out old Mack is back!” At one point both my daughter and I realized that it was really quite a gruesome song. We had overlooked that basic fact and had to stop encouraging him. I would have been safer teaching him “Purple People Eater,” but that would have driven me nuts. And maybe given him nightmares.

13 thoughts on ““Flying Purple People Eater”

      1. that´s right, I love music and discover new songs 🙂 She Wooley sounds for kids eheh on ‘Splish Splash’ there´s an error with the link! PedroL


  1. Okay, so I learned something new. I heard of “Splish Splash.” I think it was used in a movie or commercial. However the other two, I have never heard of them. The Mack the Knife lyrics are different….”Lies a body just oozin’ life” I’ve heard worst in the music today. That’s why I don’t listen to music to much.


  2. “It was a one-eyed, one-horned, flying purple people eater,” still comes out of my mouth sometimes, all these years later. My girlfriends and I did “Splish Splash” for a school talent show in sixth grade and one some prize or other as well as a spot in the next PTA meeting. Fun times. Eh.

    And oh yes, KISN! I’d forgotten about it. Oh my, Sin Radio some called it, but I listened whenever I got the chance. In the early 60s, when I could sneak my brother’s tiny 6-transistor radio to bed, I could sometimes get K-Fog (I think that’s the one) in San Francisco, all faint and grainy, but enough to hear some of the songs and even some weird late-night talk shows.

    Thanks for the stroll down memory lane, as the DJs used to say.


  3. I guess I’m partial to 60’s music, and “Mack The Knife” was popular a little before my time so I never really took an interest and didn’t know the words….until about two minutes ago! I’m actually a little shocked since I always assumed it was just a cute little tune. Now I have a whole new perspective. Thanks Elizabeth!

    Liked by 1 person

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