Featuring a magical yellow ukulele and its player, it is guaranteed to lift your spirits – whether you’re depressed, stressed or simply worn out by the doom and gloom of life, they promise. Bring Me Sunshine features Ian Clarkson’s now famous yellow ukulele which was bought from a little music shop in Harlow in Essex.
When Ian saw the bright yellow colour of the ukulele, after performing outside on a grey day, Ian exclaimed “a yellow ukulele! That’s perfect! It’s a happy colour and matches our stage suits!”
And he promptly bought the four-stringed mini-guitar. The little Kala soprano ukulele became a star overnight. Ian took his ukulele everywhere and he was happy to play it at the drop of a hat. One day, after performing at the Horse Guards Parade in London, the band was invited to meet Prince Charles. Ian couldn’t resist but perform for His Royal Highnesses and serenaded him with Bring Me Sunshine. Prince Charles loved the song and was very interested in the uke.
Very soon the yellow ukulele became integral part of the Jive Aces live shows and was there at each performance. Ian learnt to play it more and more until he became known as Mr Ukulele. With the release of the Bring Me Sunshine music video, ukuleles were reaching all corners of the world and the uke was making a comeback in popularity, so much so that many British schools sidelined their recorders and replaced them with ukuleles in teaching children music.
Ian recalls: “I remember practising my chords on the ukulele until my fingers hurt. When the skin started to harden I knew I would not feel pain anymore as I conditioned my fingers and practised my hand positioning. I remember feeling so happy and wanted everyone to get the same happiness that that small instrument brought to my life. My life really changed after I got a ukulele and I want to thank my dear wife for getting me one for Christmas which hooked me right there and then onto this happy instrument as I call it.
“When we released Bring Me Sunshine, I remember we as a band were working so hard to get it out there and seen. I really wanted people to get the happiness of the instrument and the song. The video was then put onto Flixxy, a platform for videos and in no time got a million views. We were so impressed and over the moon as we didn’t expect such a hit overnight. The video even reached a doctor in Seattle USA who prescribed the video to his patients to help them with depression.
“The doctor actually wrote prescriptions and one of them ended up on the net and became world famous! It was like ‘pinch me, am I dreaming?’ We never had more than a few thousand views with previous videos. I never thought that this video would go viral! But I realise now that it was so needed! It was right after the economic crisis and people needed the boost and Bring Me Sunshine did just that.”
You can view it at www.youtube.com/watch?v=oXvJ8UquYoo.
“Since then our song and its arrangement has been used on Strictly Come Dancing three times. We had Lisa Riley, Susan Colman and just on Season 19 Ugo Monye. This is such an acknowledgment of your hard work when the BBC Strictly band is playing your version of the song, exactly as you do it, and you see each dancing couple doing well at it.
“I’s very rewarding. We hope that many more dancing couple will keep choosing the song so really we can keep spreading the sunshine.
“I am so glad and proud to know that just a little ukulele and a loved song can just create so much joy and impact so many people. I always encourage people to pick up and learn to strum the ukulele because you never know who you might be singing to.”