David Lubega (born 13 April 1975), better known by his stage name Lou Bega, is a German recording artist. His 1999 song "Mambo No. 5", a remake of Pérez Prado's 1949 instrumental piece, reached Number 1 in many European countries and was nominated for a Grammy Award. Bega added his own words to the song and sampled the original version extensively. Bega's musical signature consists of combining musical elements of the 1940s and 1950s with modern beats and grooves.
Bega was born on 13 April 1975 in Munich, West Germany, to a Sicilian mother and a Ugandan father. His father Charles went to Germany in 1972 to study biology at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. Until age six, Bega spent most of his time with his mother Nicole in Italy. Then they lived permanently in Munich, where Bega attended German primary school. As a teenager he traveled to Miami, Florida, where he found the inspiration for his hit single "Mambo No. 5 (A Little Bit of...)". Bega also lived in Uganda for six months. Currently, he lives in Berlin, Germany.
Bega started his musical career as a rapper. At the age of 13, he founded a hip hop group with two other boys. It would be two years before Bega and his friends' first CD would be released in 1990. While living in Miami, he discovered Latin music. After returning to Munich, Bega met his then manager, Goar Biesenkamp, as well as music producers "Frank Lio" (Achim Kleist) and "Donald Fact" (Wolfgang von Webenau) (Syndicate Musicproduction), with whom he developed the concept for the song "Mambo No. 5 (A Little Bit of...)". Bega signed a recording contract to the label, Lautstark.
His first single "Mambo No. 5 (A Little Bit of...)" became a worldwide hit in 1999, charting at No. 1 in most European countries, including Germany, UK, France, and No. 3 in the United States. In France, "Mambo No. 5" spent twenty weeks at No. 1. It was also used by the British television broadcaster Channel 4 for their coverage of test match cricket between 1999 and 2005.
On 19 July 1999, Bega released his debut album A Little Bit of Mambo, which peaked at No. 3 both in Bega's native Germany and the U.S. While it charted moderately in the UK, peaking at only No. 50, it reached No. 1 in Austria, Canada, Finland, Hungary, and Switzerland. The second single, "I Got a Girl" charted well, entering the Top 10 in some European countries, including France, Finland and Belgium. The third single, "Tricky, Tricky", achieved No. 18 on the Canadian charts and No. 74 on the U.S. Billboard charts. In France, Bega did well also with his single "Mambo Mambo", which reached No. 11 on the French charts.
Bega's second studio album Ladies and Gentlemen was released on 28 May 2001. The album failed to experience success similar to its predecessor in Bega's native market or internationally. It peaked at No. 54 in Germany, and No. 23 on Switzerland's album chart. The album produced two singles, "Just a Gigolo" and "Gentleman", both of which charted moderately.
Bega released his third studio album Lounatic on 10 May 2005, which failed to enter the charts.
On 21 May 2010, Bega released his fourth album titled Free Again, which also did not find much success on the charts. It only charted in Switzerland peaking at No. 78.
Bega's fifth studio album A Little Bit of 80's was released on 28 June 2013, in Germany on Ariola (Sony Music). In this album, Bega again covered classic international hits including "Smooth Operator" (1984)" by Sade, "I'm So Excited" (1982) by The Pointer Sisters, "Vamos a la playa" (1983) by Righeira, "Red Red Wine" (1968) by Neil Diamond and "Karma Chameleon" (1983) by Culture Club. Bega's first single off his fifth album, however, was "Give It Up" which was released in Germany on 14 June 2013. The song peaked at No. 6 in Germany.
Bega has appeared on stage for Royals as well as international corporations. Bega was on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Ally McBeal, MAD TV, The Martin Short Show, Motown Live, Jenny Jones, Queen Latifah, Access Hollywood, and others. Bega was also the only artist to be asked to sing the same song twice on Germany's headlining show Wetten, dass..?. On New Year's Eve 2007, he performed in Poland. He has been the MC at the American Music Awards, the Grammy Awards, the Billboard Radio Awards and at the Love Parade in Berlin. He also performed live on television on the Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway in the United Kingdom on 4 April 2015. In July 2016, Bega performed as a special guest in several of Andre Rieu's famous Maastricht concerts.
Appearances in other media
Bega sang the theme song for the Disney Channel animated series Brandy & Mr. Whiskers. Bega also recorded and starred in a music video of a Disney version of "Mambo #5" that featured Disney-themed lyrics.
In the computer game Tropico, Bega is one of the characters that the player can choose as their dictatorial persona. He was included as part of a licensing deal that also saw Bega's song "Club Elitaire" integrated into the German release of Tropico. Also, in the Ubi Soft/Disney Interactive video game Walt Disney's The Jungle Book Rhythm n' Groove, Bega participates in a challenge with his namesake. The player dances as King Louie, attempting to dance to Bega's rendition of "I Wanna Be Like You". Doing so will unlock a video of him with children dancing to the aforementioned song. Bega also wrote the theme song for the French cartoon series Marsupilami.
- A Little Bit of Mambo (1999)
- Ladies and Gentlemen (2001)
- Lounatic (2005)
- Free Again (2010)
- A Little Bit of 80's (2013)
|1999||Mambo No. 5 (A Little Bit of...)||Jorn Heitmann|
|1999||I Got a Girl||–|
|2001||Just a Gigolo||–|
|2006||C'est la Vie (feat. Edvin Marton)||–|
|2006||You Wanna Be Americano||–|
|2010||Sweet Like Cola||Oliver Sommer|
|2013||Give It Up||–|
|2019||Scatman & Hatman (feat. Scatman John)||–|
Music video appearances
|2000||I Wanna Be Like You||Volker Hannvacker||Disney video from the PC game Jungle Book|
|2000||Disney Mambo No. 5 (A Little Bit of...)||–||Radio Disney version of "Mambo No. 5 (A Little Bit of...)"|
- "C'est la Vie" – In 2006, Bega recorded a song with Edvin Marton, and a music video was also filmed. The song has only appeared on Marton's album Stradivarius as a bonus track and was never featured on any of Bega's albums. A slightly different version of this song was available on Bega's Myspace page at one time.
- 1999: "Best International Song", Festivalbar (for "Mambo No. 5 (A Little Bit of...)")
- 2000: "International Song of the Year", NRJ Music Awards (for "Mambo No. 5 (A Little Bit of...)")
- 2000: "Single of the Year (National)", ECHO (for "Mambo No. 5 (A Little Bit of...)")
- 2000: "Best National Artist in Foreign Countries", ECHO
In 1999, Bega was nominated for a Grammy Award in the category "Best Male Pop Vocal Performance" (for "Mambo No. 5 (A Little Bit of...)").
Bega was awarded the German Echo Prize in two categories as well as being nominated five times. Other accolades include a Grammy Award nomination, a World Music Entertainment Award in Cannes, the Blockbuster Entertainment Award in Los Angeles, the Festival Bar of Verona, the Amadeus Award of Vienna, and the Bunte New Faces Award in Berlin. Bega tours around the world with his band. A 22-city tour of the US with Cher, live show appearances throughout South America with concerts in Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires and São Paulo, and a tour through India with stops in Bombay, New Delhi, Madras, Bangalore and Calcutta have been some of the highlights along the way. Over 200 concerts in Europe have attracted over three million fans and viewers.