Stephen King listened to Mambo No. 5 so much his wife threatened to divorce him

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One of my more unusual quirks is that I devolve into heaps of laughter when watching horror stories. My best friend made the mistake of inviting me to see 2018’s Hereditary at the theater, and I ended up howling the whole time. We have not seen a horror film together in public since. Does this fall under the category of defense mechanisms? I’m not really embarrassed by it, but as a courtesy to other fright-seekers I make efforts to reserve my horror viewing for at home (where I only bother my dog). Which is good, because as if my finding hilarity in horror weren’t enough on its own, master of the genre Stephen King has just given me a new reason to chuckle inappropriately. He’s out promoting his latest novel, Holly, and revealed that he used to listen to “Mambo No. 5” — as background music while writing — so much that his wife threatened divorce. “Mambo No. 5” is now ALL I will be thinking about when reading or watching a Stephen King work. More from Stephen:

Lou Bega’s “Mambo No. 5,” a 1999 smash that topped the pop charts in most global territories, is one of the most love-it-or-hate-it songs of all time — Stephen King’s wife definitely falls in the latter camp. The author recently spoke to Rolling Stone to promote his latest novel, “Holly,” and revealed his wife once threatened to divorce him due to his love of the infamous track.

“Oh, yeah. Big time,” King said when asked if the rumors about his love for “Mambo No. 5” are true. “My wife threatened to divorce me. I played that a lot.”

“I had the dance mix,” the author continued. “I loved those extended play things and I played both sides of it. And one of them was just total instrumental. And I played that thing until my wife just said, ‘One more time, and I’m going to f—ing leave you.’”

King must’ve stopped, as he’s been happily married to Tabitha King since 1971. The couple has three children together, including the writers Joe Hill and Owen King. The author said his wife’s ultimatum arrived while he was writing “11/22/63,” his 2011 novel about a time traveller who tries to prevent the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

“Mambo No. 5,” recorded by Bega, a German singer, was rooted in a 1949 instrumental single by Dámaso Pérez Prado that Bega sampled for his rewritten vocal rendition, which called out women’s names (“A little bit of Monica…”). It was the performer’s only significant hit, peaking at No. 3 in the U.S. while going all the way to No. 1 in the U.K., Canada, Italy, France and more than 20 other countries.

King detailed more of his daily listening in the interview. “When I write, there are things that I can listen to a lot,” he said. “And a lot of it is techno stuff or disco stuff, but techno in particular. There’s this group called LCD Soundsystem, and I love that. Fatboy Slim is somebody else. I can just listen to that stuff. If you tried to write and listen to Leonard Cohen, how the f— would you do that? Because you’d have to listen to the words and you’d have to listen to what he’s saying. But with some of the techno stuff, or KC and the Sunshine Band, Gloria Gaynor, it’s all good.”

[From Yahoo! Entertainment]

Someone who’s read 11/22/63, please enlighten me: does “Mambo No. 5” make any kind of appearance in the book? If not, that’s a missed opportunity, Stephen! I don’t even care that his comments are probably dissing disco (it came off a little like he was suggesting the music is dumb enough not to throw off his concentration). I’m just giddy as I mentally assemble a playlist for the next thriller I watch. There’ll be a slash and in my head I’ll hear Gloria croon “I never can say goodbye, oh no, I never can say goodbye!” Someone’s head gets chopped off, and I’ll be like “That’s the way, uh-huh uh-huh, I like it, uh-huh uh-huh!”

But I do have one serious question for Stephen King: do you not have a pair of headphones? Your marriage may depend on it one day.

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36 Responses to “Stephen King listened to Mambo No. 5 so much his wife threatened to divorce him”

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  1. Lady Esther says:

    LOL I can’t hate, that song is still a banger after all these years and is on a number of my YouTube mixes….but yeah, headphones are a thing, Stephen!

  2. Mei says:

    Now I’ve got Mambo No. 5 in my head. Thanks a lot Stephen King, that is definitely not the music I need to concentrate on my work :p

    I struggle with wearing headphones for extended periods, so I get why he may not wear them either. I’m more surprised he may not have a separate room to work in so his wife doesn’t have to listen to it on repeat!

    • Lightpurple says:

      I started humming it while someone just walked by my office. He’s now singing it, loudly, in his office. It’s incredibly catchy

  3. Kate says:

    I, too, would threaten divorce if forced to listen to Mambo No. 5 (or really any song) on constant repeat.

    • MrsCope says:

      Agreed @kate, Mambo No.5 is a deal breaker 😂

      But Kismet asks a good question, why no headphones sir??

      • Twin Falls says:

        My aunt and uncle have been married 50 years. When he retired the first thing she did was buy him headphones so she didn’t have to hear what he wanted to listen to all day lol.

    • Normades says:

      Lol Kate and Mrscope. It’s like the Macarena, I’d go absolutely mad. I really hope this was a joke on his part.

  4. TikiChica says:

    I can confirm Mambo no5 is not referenced in 11/22/63. Great book. I ugly cried at the end.

    • orangeowl says:

      I am not a Stephen King reader at all but did read 11/22/63 for my book club and it just pulled me right in like I was not expecting. The complete immersion in that time and place was astonishing. So incredibly good.

    • MyCatLovesTV says:

      I watched the Hulu adaptation of 11/22/63 starring James Franco a few years ago. I enjoyed it. But can I assume the book is better?

      • TikiChica says:

        @MyCatLovesTV yes! I made the mistake of reading the book first. I think you will enjoy the book, and there are quite a few differences too.

      • BeSieged says:

        Absolutely! The book was great, it’s long but I’ve read it twice and is a page turner. Hated the tv adaptation, prob bc I can’t stand James Franco.

  5. Twin Falls says:

    I’m not a background noise kind of person. I can tune stuff out if I have to but I never put on music or tv and then try and work.

    I read so many Stephen King books as a kid and I hate horror in general. I keep meaning to try some of his newer work.

  6. kgeo says:

    My 10 year old and I just tried watching The Shining together. He loves horror and creepy stuff, so I figured this wouldn’t be too much for him. He couldn’t finish it! Success.
    I will say, I have never been more scared reading a book than when I read the Shining, but I didn’t think it carried over into the movie as well. Anyway, I love Stephen King, and I love this little tidbit about Mambo No. 5.

    • Donna says:

      I remember reading The Shining when it first came out and I was home alone. I kept having to put the book down because I was getting so scared. Never happened to me before or ever again. It’s a classic.

    • a mascarada says:

      I was reading The Shining in bed alone, and in a certain moment, as a grown up woman, I got my book and joined my husband who was still on his computer on the living room.
      The anxiety was real.
      As much as I love the movie, that book was something else.

    • Dierski says:

      Totally agree – the book is so deeply scary, and soooo good. I’ve always enjoyed his books and writing, and the Shining is probably the scariest book for me too. Liked the movie and the series they did, but not quite as freaky as the book.

      This headline made me laugh out loud – of all the songs to write horror stories to 😂

  7. Ameerah M says:

    And now Mambo No. 5 will be stuck in my head for the rest of the day.

  8. Torttu says:

    I was just thinking of Misery yesterday and how good the book and the movie are. And Pet Sematary is the scariest book ever.
    (Mambo is now in my head, I can’t make it stop.)

  9. Lightpurple says:

    Stephen King is a national treasure and he remains one of the reasons to stay on Twitter, where he is approachable, engaging, and hilarious. We have had many discussions about evil dogs named Molly and the Red Sox. I will have to check out how he’s handling the Mambo No 5 revelation today.

    Another national treasure and Twitter gem Mark Hamill recently signed on to do a movie version of a King story with Tom Hiddleston. I can’t wait until Mark & Stephen start tweeting each other about the film

    • Claudia says:

      No way!!!!!!! Omg I’m already excited for this. Good to see mark in more stuff, he deserves other roles than voice acting and Star Wars. And I’ll watch Tom paint a wall, he’s always good. I just watched I saw the light the other day and he was absolutely amazing.

  10. Concern Fae says:

    Some people dislike headphones, but they do make parabolic speakers that are installed on the ceiling. The speaker itself is in the center of a downward facing dome that directs the sound towards a specific spot. My father in law lost some hearing and his loud tv was driving my MIL crazy. Installed one of these over his recliner. He could blast the tv all day and you only could hear it if you were directly under the dome.

    I’m a person who plays the same song over and over again, and dance music is my go to, so I totally relate to Steven King here. Current earwig is Latch by Sam Smith and Disclosure. And I’ve never really been a Sam Smith fan at all. Don’t even remember the song from when it came out, though I must have heard it. Go figure.

    • Deering24 says:

      Some music just puts one in the creative zone–and it’s different for everyone. Dance music/techno works for me. And I’ve played “I’m Dreamin” by Christopher Williams more times than I should admit to get the juices going…

  11. Lila says:

    I get not wanting to wear headphones all day long…but shut the door to the office, at least. Unless he plays it so loud the walls rattle!

    • SarahCS says:

      He should be able to soundproof his writing room based on the $$$ he’s made in his career so far.

  12. Mle428 says:

    My spouse and I laughed so hard at this! Listening to music while I studied got me through nursing school. It was my ADHD coping mechanism. My mother in law said last weekend that she had never seen anyone study like I did, and I told her that it was my earbuds and my music. Something that blends into the background, exactly like Stephen King said. Although, Mambo No. 5 would not have blended well enough for me. LOL.

  13. Mrs. Smith says:

    I LOVE Stephen King! He is my favorite author. He is such a gifted writer. I’ve read a lot of his work and really loved 11/22/63 so much. It’s like 600 pages and I could not put it down. I recently read Elevation and loved it in case anyone wants to try a King book that’s low-commitment.

    It cracks me up that he likes Mambo no. 5.

    • Claudia says:

      Mine too! I need to finish Fairy tale. He’s just released a new book and I want to read it. 11/22/63 was fantastic. I never thought Stephen could write something wholly romantic, heart breaking and gorgeous as the love story in that but he did. I was the same with the stand, it was just too compelling. Have you read Later? It’s like Sixth sense but awesome. The institute is another brilliant one.

      Honestly the day he dies will be a really sad one, seeing what books he brings out next always excites me. Plus it’s my dream to write a show or a book that he raves about on Twitter lol.

  14. bettyrose says:

    Anyone see the meme from the typewriter in the Shining, only the pages are covered with the lyrics from Mambo #5?

  15. butterflystella says:

    Love to read – love Mr. King!! I ready Pet Semetary in one night! Scared the crap out of me but i also couldn’t stop reading…

  16. a says:

    Hereditary was the most unintentionally hilarious movie I have seen in decades! I could not stop laughing at the over-the-top shock scenes. Everyone looks at me like I’m crazy when I tell them this.

    Also, 11/22/63 is an excellent book,