“Snoopy vs. The Red Baron” by The Royal Guardsmen
“Snoopy vs. The Red Baron” is a fictional beef that fans of the Peanuts (aka “Charlie Brown”) series would be familiar with. Well actually “the Red Baron”, as he was called, was a real-life dude, one Manfred von Richthofen, who despite being the losing (i.e. German) side of World War I is still considered to be the top fighter pilot of that conflict.
Snoopy, by contrast, is an anthropomorphic and sophisticated cartoon dog. And he has a thing for imagining himself fighting, aircraft to aircraft, against the Red Baron.
And for a while, this piece reads a lot like something you’d hear from Sabaton (who also, some decades later, dropped a song about the Red Baron). That is to say that we have the vocalist commenting on just how potent a fighter pilot “Baron von Richthofen” actually was, complete with historical facts. Indeed, he is presented as being unbeatable… until Snoopy pops up on the scene.
And even in the first battle between the two, the Red Baron emerges victorious. But Snoopy recollects himself and in the process gets military advice from “the Great Pumpkin”, another Peanuts’ character, so to speak. So he goes about challenging the Red Baron “to a real dogfight”. And apparently being caught up in his own hubris, von Richthofen lets his guard down and ends up in Snoopy’s crosshairs. And the dog makes good on the opportunity by shooting him down. But for the most part, as in when you take the chorus into consideration, this song actually serves as an ode to the Red Baron.
When was “Snoopy vs. The Red Baron” Released?
The Royal Guardsmen released “Snoopy vs. The Red Baron” in November of 1966. It originally appeared as the opening track on the band’s debut album of the same name. It also appeared as the second track on their third album, “Snoopy and His Friends”.
The song peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States and made it to No. 8 in the UK. It reached the apex of charts in Canada as well as in Australia.
This song has so far recorded sales of about 3 million copies globally.
American songwriters, Dick Holler and Phil Gernhard are the official authors of this song.
Phil, being a record producer himself, collaborated with John Brumage in the production of the song.
Famous Covers of “Snoopy vs. The Red Baron”
Some notable covers of this song that we have come across include the 1967 releases by Los Hooligans, a Mexican pop band and The Ventures, a rock band from the US.
In 1976 and 1968, The Irish Rovers, an Irish band from Toronto, Canada also released their versions of the song. Another cover worthy of notice is one released by Peter Pan Pop Band & Singers in 1968.
The Red Baron
“Red Baron” was the name given to German fighter Pilot Manfred von Richthofen. Born in May 1892 in Breslau, Manfred became one of the first members of the fighter Squadron Jasta 2 in 1916 after being commissioned into the German Cavalry unit to be an officer.
Red Baron was inspired by Oswald Boelcke (who was a famous German fighter pilot). Baron served his way through the ranks as a back-seat observer and a combat pilot before becoming famously known for his prolific and cruel skills in flying airplanes.
The Red Baron during the first World War was considered the deadliest flying ace. Though his victories are being questioned, he is said to have shot down about 80 opposition army aircrafts between September 1916 and April 1918. By 1918, he was considered a legend and a national asset. Red Baron’s signature was the crimson/bright red-colored aircraft he drove.
This lifestyle and precision earned him great respect and admiration in Germany. He inspired many allied combatants and became a template for many fighter pilots.
He was also referred to as “The Red Fighter Pilot” and “The Red Battle Flyer”. On 21st April 1918, he died after incurring a fatal wound.