- Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin On
"Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin On" (also rendered "Whole Lotta Shaking Going On") is a
songbest known in the 1957 rock and rollhit version by Jerry Lee Lewis.
Origins of the song
The origins of the song are disputed, but the writing is co-credited to Native American (Crow) / African American Kentuckian singer/songwriter Dave "Curlee" Williams, and white pianist, bandleader and songwriter James Faye "Roy" Hall (May 7, 1922 - March 2, 1984) [ [http://www.rockabilly.nl/artists/royhall.htm Roy Hall, Pumpin' and Drinkin' ] ] . Hall made the first recording of the song in September 1954 for
Decca Records, and maintained that he had written it under the pseudonym of "Sunny David". However, a Decca sample copy of Hall's recording [ [http://rcs.law.emory.edu/rcs/pics/d01/1817.htm Roy Hall: Decca 29697 ] ] lists Dave Williams as the sole writer. Hall was also a Nashville club owner, who later claimed to have employed young piano player Jerry Lee Lewis at some point around 1954.
Hall's version was rapidly covered by
Big Maybellewhose recording was produced by the young Quincy Jones, and by others including The Commodores (no relation to the '70s Motown group). However, none of these early recordings found much commercial success.
Jerry Lee Lewis version
Jerry Lee Lewis had been performing the song in his stage act, and recorded it at his second recording session for
Sun Records, on May 27, 1957 [ [http://rcs.law.emory.edu/rcs/artists/l/lewi3400.htm Lewis, Jerry Lee (RCS Artist Discography) ] ] . Supervised by producer Jack Clement, Lewis radically altered the original, adding a propulsive boogie piano that was complemented by J.M. Van Eaton's energetic drumming, and also added suggestive spoken asides. Lewis later stated : "I knew it was a hit when I cut it. Sam Phillipsthought it was gonna be too risqué, it couldn't make it. If that's risqué, well, I'm sorry." [ [http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6388855 NPR Music: Jerry Lee Lewis: 'Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On' ] ]
In Lewis' autobiographical film, Lewis is shown spying in on Black American speak-easy type club, listening to Whole Lotta Shakin Goin' On by a Black female soloist. The next scene depicts Lewis using this song, discrediting the original artist.
Released as Sun 267, the record reached # 3 on the Billboard pop charts, # 1 on the R&B charts, # 1 on the country charts, and # 8 in the UK. Lewis became an instant sensation and, as writer Robert Gordon noted: "Jerry Lee began to show that in this new emerging genre called rock 'n' roll, not everybody was going to stand there with a guitar."
Jerry Lee Lewis's version of the song is ranked as the sixty-first greatest song of all time by "
Rolling Stone" magazine. In 2005, it was selected for permanent preservation in the National Recording Registryat the Library of Congress.
The song has become a rock n' roll standard, recorded by many performers including
Little Richard, Rick Nelson, Chubby Checker, Duffy Power, Conway Twitty, Gerry & the Pacemakers, Wanda Jackson, Elvis Presley, The Hurricanes, Mae West, Mott the Hoople, Big Star, Uriah Heep, Bill Haley & His Comets, Georgia Satellites, Ten Years After("I'm Goin' Home" medley) and experimental band The Flying Lizardson their 1984 cover album Top Ten.
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