He may have seen a tiger and a tiger may have seen a man, but Joe Exotic apparently never saw the inside of a recording studio. Throughout the course of Netflix's latest hit, Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness, viewers are treated to the soothing cat-themed country tunes of the Tiger King himself, though the truth behind the catchy singles is that they aren't really his songs at all.
Although the docuseries presents the tunes — including "I Saw a Tiger," "Here Kitty Kitty," and "This Is My Life," among several others — as being written and performed by Exotic (real name Joseph Allen Maldonado-Passage), the credit actually goes to the Clinton Johnson Band. The band's members, Vince Johnson and vocalist Danny Clinton, are both listed in the series' credits.
According to Vanity Fair, Exotic, who ran an Oklahoma roadside zoo before being sentenced in connection to a murder-for-hire plot, had tracked down the duo and managed to convince them to produce customized cat songs for free. Exotic had explained to them that he needed a song for an upcoming reality show that was the subject of a bidding war between Animal Planet, Discovery, and National Geographic, prompting the band to agree in the hopes of getting more exposure.
The first song they collaborated on was "I Saw a Tiger," with Johnson explaining via email that Exotic would give the band a topic and they would come up with a song within the span of just two weeks.
"I had no idea he was going to Milli Vanilli the songs," Johnson told Vanity Fair. "It was a couple of months and two or three songs [into the collaboration] when I was on YouTube one night and just happened to look up Joe Exotic. And there he was, lip-syncing and acting like the ghost of Elvis [in these music videos]. I called him up, I was hot…And he bamboozled me about his reality show—that it was coming soon and he would make everything right as rain. I just wanted the proper credit."
Mateusz Gugałka, who produced some of the music videos, added that Exotic went to great lengths to convince others that the songs were entirely his, including telling staffers that he had spent the weekend away recording a new song.
As for whether or not Exotic would have had the chops to have a successful music career, Rick Kirkham, who spent years on the Oklahoma property filming the potential reality series, cast plenty of doubt.
"One time Joe got a little bit drunk and high, and we actually coaxed him into singing part of one of the songs. He couldn't even hold a tune. It was just so ludicrous," he said. "It was a big joke within the crew and staff that it wasn't him [singing in the videos]—but he was damned insistent to anyone and everyone, including us and my studio crew, that that was him."
Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness is currently available for streaming.0comments