There aren’t many songs that hit the ground running and roar off into the stratosphere with a better opening line than: “Gonna tell Aunt Mary ’bout Uncle John, he claims he had the mis’ry but he had a lot of fun, oh baby…”
And there aren’t many hook lines – if any – that are so much fun to belt out at the top of your lungs and never fail to bring the house down like: “Have some fun tonight!”
What song is this, you might be asking?
“Long Tall Sally.”
Don’t believe me? Ask Paul McCartney and Robert Plant. They know.
“Long Tall Sally” was the A-side of Little Richard’s second release for the Los Angeles-based record label Specialty Records.
“Long Tall Sally” was written by Little Richard, Robert Blackwell and Enotris Johnson. (Robert “Bumps” Blackwell was Little Richard’s record producer at Specialty Records. Enotris Johnson was Little Richard’s adoptive father.)
Little Richard recorded “Long Tall Sally” at J&M Studios in New Orleans, LA on February 10, 1956. Richard sang and played piano on the recording and was accompanied by J&M Studio’s top in-house session players: Edgar Blanchard, guitar; Frank Fields, bass; Earl Palmer, drums; Lee Allen, tenor saxophone; and Alvin Tyler, baritone saxophone.
Specialty Records released “Long Tall Sally” b/w “Slppin’ and Slidin” in March, 1956. Sales of the 45-rpm single kept “Long Tall Sally” in the #1 position on the Billboard Rhythm & Blues chart for six weeks.
Within a year or so, “Long Tall Sally” was being covered by a wide variety of American musicians including Elvis Presley, Eddie Cochran & Wanda Jackson. In 1964, two British Invasion bands – The Kinks and The Beatles – each recorded and released their version of the song.
The Beatles, who were big fans of Little Richard, had been performing “Long Tall Sally” for some time before they recorded it for a 4-song EP in the spring of 1964. “Long Tall Sally” was the last song of The Beatles first American concert, held at the Washington Coliseum in Washington, D.C. on February 11, 1964. It was also the last song of their last official public concert, held at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, CA on August 29, 1966.
The British Rock band Led Zeppelin used “Long Tall Sally” as a high-energy encore number in many of their concerts from 1968 into the early 1970’s.
Here, for your listening pleasure, is Little Richard’s original recording.
By the way, if you listen to this and don’t move at least some part of your body, you better call an ambulance and get yourself to a doctor right away.
Little Richard was born Richard Wayne Penniman in Macon, Georgia on this day, December 5, in 1932. He was the third child of Leva Mae & Charles Penniman.
He started his performing career at the age of 14 with the help of Sister Rosetta Tharpe. From 1949-1950, he sang with his first band, Buster Brown’s Orchestra. Little Richard cut his first records with RCA Victor in 1951. He recorded his first hit record – “Tutti Frutti” – for Specialty Records in September of 1955.
Little Richard was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.
Little Richard announced his retirement from the music business in September, 2013.
Happy 82nd Birthday, Little Richard!