Mambo No. 5 by Lou Bega”, a 1999 chart-topper in most territories around the world, is one of the most loved or hated songs of all time. The author recently spoke to Rolling Stone to discuss his latest novel to promote, “Holly ,” and revealed that his wife once threatened divorce over his love for the hit song.
“Oh yeah. Big time,” King said when asked if the rumors about his love for “Mambo No. 5” were true. “My wife threatened to divorce me. I was very close to her.”
“I had the dance mix,” the author continued, “I love that extended play stuff and I would play both parts. And one of them was completely instrumental. And I played that until my wife said , ‘One more time and I’ll leave you fucking.’
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King must have left him, because he has been happily married to Tabitha King since 1971. The couple have three children together, including the writers Joe Hill and Owen King. The author said his wife’s Ultimatum came while writing “11/22/63,” his 2011 novel about a time traveler trying to prevent the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
“Mambo nº 5”, recorded by German singer Bega, had its origins in a 1949 instrumental single by Dámaso Pérez Prado that Bega sampled for his rewritten vocal version, in which he added women’s names (“Un poco de Mónica . . . “). It was the performer’s only major hit, reaching #3 in the US and #1 in the UK, Canada, Italy, France and over 20 countries.
When I’m writing, there’s a lot of stuff I listen to,” he said, “and a lot of it is techno or disco stuff, but mostly techno. I love a band called LCD Soundsystem. Another one is Fatboy Slim. I can hear all of that. If you tried to write and listen to Leonard Cohen, how would you do it? Because you would have to listen to the lyrics and what they have to say. But with some techno stuff, or KC and the Sunshine Band, Gloria Gaynor, it’s all good.”
What is King listening to right now? “Recently, I think I’ve been kind of into Foghat and Bob Seger, people like that,” he says, “but I’ve been listening to country music a lot too. So, a lot of Travis Tritt and Alan Jackson , people like that.”
King’s new book, “Holly,” is out now.