Who Was Mistadobalina, Mista Bob Dobalina, Anyway?

Mistadobalina, Del the Funky Homosapien

I was in the car recently when the good people at Radio Milwaukee played “Mistadobalina” by Del the Funky Homosapien. I hadn’t heard it in ages, and it’s been stuck in my head ever since.

“Mistadobalina, Mista Bob Dobalina … Mistadobalina, Mista Bob Dobalina … Mistadobalina, Mista Bob Dobalina …”

Also stuck in my head: Who the hell was Mr. Bob Dobalina, anyway?

Del the Funky Homosapien, a rapper from Oakland, California, released his first solo album I Wish My Brother George Was Here in 1991. (The album title is a nod to Liberace, or Looney Tunes’ nod to Liberace). The record featured the memorably catchy song “Mistadobalina.”

Who was this fraudulent man who so fraudulently wronged Del the Funky Homosapien with fraudulence?

Well, the source of the lyrical name is from a weird track by The Monkees called “Zilch”:

Michael Nesmith, who died in 2021, revealed the origin of Mr. Bob Dobalina.

“It was the name of a department store manager in San Antonio,” Nesmith said. “My wife Phyllis and I were shopping when the page came over the speaker and I was immediately struck by the internal rhythm of the phrase.”

Nesmith kept the name in mind for years until The Monkees recorded their 1967 Headquarters album. “I introduced the idea of a phrase without melody but only the rhythm of the words,” he says. The other members of the group started their own riffs. “Each one contributing a phrase that had entered their life in somewhat the same way as Dobalina entered mine.”

Del, who clearly has a love of retro kitsch, also liked the sound of “Zilch” and added Mr. Bob Dobalina to his samples collection.

Or there was a very old department store manager who went around stealing the honeydip from Oakland rappers.

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Pop Music Legends

August 2017

Dedicated to the sights, sounds and stories of the golden age of pop.

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