QUEENS, NY—Musician and songwriter, Irving Burgie, known best for the Calypso “Banana Boat Song (Day-O)” died at the age of 95 in his Queens home on Friday, November 29 due to heart failure.
Burgie, also known as Lord Burgess, was known for composing approximately 34 songs for Harry Belafonte. He was born in Brooklyn, New York, with a background coming from Barbados from his mother’s side, while his father was born in Virginia. Burgie was drafted into the US Army during World War II and served in Burma, China, and India, where he started playing guitar and singing.
Once back from the war, he studied at Juilliard where he met Harry Belafonte in 1950. Burgie used the name Lord Burgess and began performing in New York City clubs, focusing on songs he learned in the Caribbean as a child.
Burgie is credited for a version of the lyrics for the “Banana Boat Song,” otherwise known as the “Day-O” song. The song was recorded by Belafonte. The song is widely known to many listeners of all ages, including those who enjoyed the film “Beetlejuice” in which the song appears in.