A Pub With No Beer is the title of a humorous country song made famous by country singers Slim Dusty (in Australia and the United States) and Bobbejaan Schoepen (in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Austria).
The song was adapted by Gordon Parsons from the original poem "A Pub Without Beer" by Dan Sheahan of Ingham, North Queensland (originally from Newmarket, Ireland) in the Day Dawn Hotel, now known as Lees Hotel, Ingham, Queensland. It's believed the song was 1st performed in public by Gordon Parsons in 1954 at the 50th birthday of George Thomas, a resident of Creek Ridge Road, Glossodia (near Windsor in Sydney). That version was performed with an extra verse that was dropped from Slim Dusty's recorded version because it contained elements of blue humour. In 1957, "A Pub With No Beer" became the first Australian single to go gold and was the biggest-selling record by an Australian at that time. It was the first single by an Australian artist to make the British charts (#03). In 1959, Dusty wrote and recorded a sequel "The Answer To A Pub With No Beer", explaining the reason for the beer delivery truck's failure to arrive and describing the townsmen's efforts to solve the problem. Another sequel, "The Sequel To A Pub With No Beer", shows that the town now has a guaranteed delivery, thanks to air freight.
In May 2001, Australasian Performing Rights Association (APRA) celebrated its 75th anniversary by naming the Best Australian Songs of all time. As decided by a 100 strong industry panel, "A Pub With No Beer" was ranked fifth on the list. In June 2008, the song was included in the National Film and Sound Archive's Sounds of Australia registry.
Belgian entertainer Bobbejaan Schoepen recorded the song in several languages. His Dutch version ("Café zonder bier") debuted in 1959 and his German version ("Ich steh an der Bar und ich habe kein Geld") in 1960. Both became number one hits in Belgium and in Austria. The song remained in the German charts for 30 weeks and reached #6.
"A Pub With No Beer" is also the theme song and title of a 1962 Belgian-British film starring Bobbejaan Schoepen, also known as De Ordonnans and At the Drop of a Head. In 1999, the alternative rock band Dead Man Ray wrote (partly) a new soundtrack for the film and went on tour with it in the Low Countries. The band also covered the song and released it on one of their albums.
This song was very popular in Ontario, Canada for a period following August 7, 1958 when a strike involving 1200 Brewers Warehousing employees stopped the flow of beer from various breweries for 48 days.
Hard liquor sales increased 25%. Non Unionized Formosa Spring operated at full capacity until it ran out of beer August 29, 1958. Many people purchased beer smuggled in from USA and Quebec with bootleggers collecting up to C$20.00 for a case of 24 pints (previously sold at C$4.25).
This song could be heard daily on most radio stations during the beer strike.
Aug 7, 1958 - The first hint of things to come arose as a result of Ontario's major beer strike. Starting on Thursday August 7, 1958 when 1200 Brewers Warehousing Ltd. (Brewers Retail) employees walked off their jobs over pay, layoffs became industry wide as retail beer was no longer available. Originally aimed at Brewers Warehousing, the dispute quickly spread as contracts at various breweries across Ontario came up for renewal.
In 1960, Benny Barnes from Beaumont, Texas Americanized the lyrics to "A Pub With No Beer" and titled it "Bar With No Beer." The song became a regional hit on the Hall-Way label. The melody of the song is almost identical to Stephen Foster's "Beautiful Dreamer." "Bar with No Beer" was recorded by Tom T. Hall in 1985 on the album Song in a Seashell. Johnny Cash, who also performed the song, advised him to record it.
Anne Kirkpatrick & Slim Dusty, Bobbejaan Schoepen (Benelux, Germany, Austria, 1959/1960), Johnny Cash, Bluey Francis, Errol Gray, Foster & Allen, Gordon Parsons, The Irish Rovers, Johnny Greenwood, John Williamson (performed a parody version of the song called "A Dog With No Hair"), Nokturnl, Richard Clayderman, Rodney Vincent, The Singing Kettles, Stewart Peters and The Ten Tenors. Other sources mention versions by Johnny Ashcroft, The Pogues, Danny O'Flaherty, Patsy Watchorn, The Clancy Brothers, Merv Allen & The Jimmy Johnston Showband and Wilson Cole, Rolf Harris (UK, 1963), Hamish Imlach (UK, 1995), The Dubliners (1967), Adge Cutler & The Wurzels (UK, 1968), Midnight Oil (Australia, 1998), Dead Man Ray (Belgium, 2001), Donut Kings (2009).