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'Snoopy Vs. The Red Baron:' The Peanuts Song Charles Schulz Never Asked For

Editor Picks | December 26, 2017

"Snoopy Vs. The Red Baron" was a novelty hit for The Royal Guardsmen in 1966. Its Peanuts theme was obvious. In a recurring storyline in the newspaper comic, Charlie Brown's dog Snoopy fantasizes about being a World War I pilot, fighting aerial battles against the German flying ace called the Red Baron. "Snoopy Vs. The Red Baron" ascended to the #2 spot on the pop chart, which was surely great publicity for Charles Schulz's comic strip. Well, there was one problem -- the Royal Guardsmen wrote, recorded, and released "Snoopy Vs. The Red Baron" without Schulz's knowledge or consent.

Who Were These Guardsmen And Were They Even Royal?

Royal Guardsmen, portrait, United States, circa 1966. (Photo by GAB Archive/Redferns)

Hailing from Ocala, Florida, the original group consisted of Bill Balough on bass, John Burdett on drums, Chris Nunley on vocals, Tom Richards on Guitar, Billy Taylor on the organ and Barry Winslow on guitar and vocals. Early on, they called themselves the Posmen.

The Beatles Of Florida

The group emerged around the time of the famous British invasion by the Beatles. They changed their name to the more British "Royal Guardsmen," and hoped to find pop success by mimicking the style of the Fab Four. The group’s first single, "Baby Let’s Wait," was a local hit in Florida, but fell short of the national success they had hoped for.

More Songs About Snoopy

In 1966, The Royal Guardsman released the song, "Snoopy Vs. The Red Baron," which reached No. 2 in the Billboard Hot 100. It also remained on the bestseller list for 12 weeks and was certified as a gold record in 1967. The Guardsmen knew they were onto something good. They would go on to release "The Return of the Red Baron" and "Snoopy’s Christmas."

They Weren't Fooling Anyone With 'Squeaky Vs. The Black Knight'

The only problem with the success of  "Snoopy vs. the Red Baron" is that the group never got permission from Charles Schultz, the Peanuts creator, to release the song. Because of this, the song wouldn’t be released in Canada until all the legalities were worked out. In an effort to sidestep this little problem, the group recorded "Squeaky Vs. The Black Knight." This was a somewhat passive, aggressive way to release the song “in disguise” which turned out to be just as successful. After all the legal issues were ironed out, the original song was finally released in Canada.

The Snoopy And Red Baron Phenomenon

Since Snoopy and the Red Baron "brand" sold so many records, they became recurring themes in other songs the group released. The Royal Guardsmen released several singles that made it to the music charts, but the group is best known for the Snoopy theme. Peanuts had always been popular, but Charles Schultz eventually embraced the Red Baron theme which proved profitable for him as well. The Milton Bradley Company hopped on the bandwagon too and released a kid’s game with the same theme.

Unfortunately, the original group split up in 1969.  The band regrouped, members were replaced and they released two more albums. They made somewhat of a comeback in 2006, releasing the song, "Snoopy vs. Osama," which became a hit on the off-the-wall Dr. Demento Show.  Over the years, the group has evolved and the faces have changed, but the name of the group remains intact.

The Lyrics To 'Snoopy Vs. The Red Baron'

After the turn of the century
In the clear blue skies over Germany
Came a roar and a thunder men had never heard
Like the scream and the sound of a big war bird

Up in the sky, a man in a plane
Baron von Richthofen was his name
Eighty men tried, and eighty men died
Now they're buried together on the countryside

Ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty or more
The Bloody Red Baron was rolling out the score
Eighty men died trying to end that spree
Of the Bloody Red Baron of Germany

In the nick of time, a hero arose
A funny-looking dog with a big black nose
He flew into the sky to seek revenge
But the Baron shot him down (Curses, foiled again!)

Ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty or more
The Bloody Red Baron was rolling out the score
Eighty men died trying to end that spree
Of the Bloody Red Baron of Germany

Now, Snoopy had sworn that he'd get that man
So he asked the Great Pumpkin for a new battle plan
He challenged the German to a real dogfight
While the Baron was laughing, he got him in his sight

That Bloody Red Baron was in a fix
He'd tried everything, but he'd run out of tricks
Snoopy fired once, and he fired twice
And that Bloody Red Baron went spinning out of sight

Tags: Charles Schulz | Peanuts | Snoopy Vs. The Red Baron | Song Meanings, Lyrics, And Facts | The Royal Guardsmen

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Rebeka Knott

Writer

Rebeka grew up in the 1960’s & 1970’s and has always subscribed to the theory that a positive attitude will take you far! She is a wife and mother of 3 with a fun-loving spirit, believing that family and relationships are invaluable.