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Stephen King Reveals Wife Threatened Divorce After He Played '90s Hit Too Often

The horror icon told 'Rolling Stone' how his love of Lou Bega's 'Mambo No. 5' nearly ended his marriage to wife Tabitha.

Stephen King Reveals Wife Threatened Divorce After He Played '90s Hit Too Often
Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images

Infidelity, not helping around the house, keeping financial secrets—these are some reasons we all hear about often whenever a couple heads to divorce court.

For legendary author Stephen King and his wife Tabitha, however, it was music that nearly drove them apart—specifically one-hit wonder Lou Bega and his signature song, 1999's "Mambo No. 5."

King recently sat for an interview with Rolling Stone, during which he told of the time Tabitha threatened to serve him divorce papers if he played the '90s hit one more time.

Lou Bega - Mambo No. 5 (A Little Bit of...)

Specifically, Tabitha told him she was going to "f**king leave" him if he didn't stop playing the song.

Which probably sounds very petty, unless you're among those of us who were of age in the '90s and deal with the collective PTSD from that song being literally inescapable for what felt like a decade until Santana and Rob Thomas' "Smooth" came out and blessedly eclipsed it. And then THAT became a whole thing you couldn't escape.


King revealed that he played the song over and over again in 2011 when he was working on his book 11/22/63. He told Rolling Stone:

“I played that a lot. I had the dance mix. 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**king leave you.'"

King's history with "Mambo No. 5" goes back farther than 2011, however. In 2009, he wrote a piece for Entertainment Weekly in which he asked readers to submit their "most dreaded earworms."

You pretty much can't find a song that more perfectly fits that description than "Mambo No. 5," and King wrote that he had such a love/hate relationship with the song it was almost a compulsion to sneak it onto the stereo whenever Tabitha wasn't home.

He noted:

“I waited until she was running errands, then played it...not once but several times. Because that’s the thing with earworms: They attract even as they repulse."
“Put another way, you know you’ll only spread that rash by scratching it, but you can’t help it."

Yep, that pretty much sums up "Mambo No. 5"—with all due respect to Lou Bega, who is hopefully sitting at home counting his stacks and stacks of royalty cash from the song's heyday, not to mention Stephen King's gazillions of streams!

On social media, people were definitely tickled by the Kings' "Mambo No. 5" marital drama—and a LOT of people were Team Tabitha.

Good for Tabitha for sticking to her guns—no one should be subjected to that kind of audio torture.