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"Good Rocking Tonight"
Song by Roy Brown
Released 1947
Genre Jump blues
Language English
Writer Roy Brown
Composer Roy Brown

"Good Rocking Tonight" was originally a jump blues song released in 1947 by its writer, Roy Brown[1] and was covered by many other recording artists. The song includes the memorable refrain, "Well I heard the news, there's good rocking tonight!"

Brown had first offered his song to Wynonie Harris, who turned it down. Only after the Brown's record gained traction in New Orleans did Harris decide to cover it. Harris's version was even more energetic than Brown's original version, featuring black gospel style handclapping. This may have contributed to the composition's greater success on the national R&B chart. Brown's original recording hit number 13 of the Billboard R&B chart, but Harris' record became a number one R&B hit and remained on the chart for half a year.[2] Brown's single would re-enter the chart in 1949, peaking at #11.

Harris had a reputation for carousing, and sometimes forgot lyrics. His Good Rockin' recording session largely followed Brown's original lyrics, but by the end, he replaced the last section with a series of raucous "hoy hoy hoy!" interjections, a commonly used expression in jump blues tunes of the time, going back to 1945's "The Honeydripper" by Joe Liggins.

The song is a primer of sorts on the popular black music of the era, making lyrical reference to Sweet Lorraine, Sioux City Sue, Sweet Georgia Brown, Caldonia, Elder Brown, Deacon Jones. All of these characters had figured prominently in previous hit songs.

While Brown missed out on the biggest hit version of his song, its success kicked off his own career, which included two #1 R&B hits. In 1949, he released Rockin' at Midnight, a sequel to Good Rocking Tonight, which might be thought of as "Good Rocking Tonight part II" because it included updates on the same characters as the original. It reached #2 on the R&B chart, where it remained for a month.

In 1954, Good Rockin' Tonight was the second Sun Records release by Elvis Presley, along with "I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine" on the flip side.[3][4] Presley and his bandmates hewed closer to the original Roy Brown version, but omitted the lyrics' by-then-dated roster of names in favor of a simpler, more energetic "We're gonna rock, rock, rock!" Described as "a flat-out rocker" country radio programmers blanched, and older audiences somewhat mystified. A live show broadcast from Houston DJ Bill Collie's club documented that the crowd "barely responded" to the song. "Blue Moon of Kentucky", the uptempo version of the Bill Monroe classic, has "the fans go stark raving nuts with joy". Both sides of this second record featuring "Elvis Presley Scotty and Bill" "stiffed".."[5]

  • A Gene Summers cover version of "Good Rocking Tonight" was included on a French compilation album "The Big Beat Show" issued by Big Beat Records (BBR1000) in 1981.
  • Contraband, an all-star hard rock group recorded their version of the song for their debut self-titled album in 1991.

References

  1. ^ Nick Tosches, Country: The Twisted Roots of Rock 'n' Roll (Da Capo Press, 1996), 51.
  2. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 246.  
  3. ^ http://rcs-discography.com/rcs/artists/p/pres1000.htm
  4. ^ Gary Dowell, Isaiah Evans, James L. Halperin, Kim Jones, and Ivy Press, Heritage Music and Entertainment Dallas Signature Auction Catalog #634 (Heritage Capital Corporation, 2006), 167.
  5. ^ The Blue Moon Boys - The Story of Elvis Presley's Band. Ken Burke and Dan Griffin. 2006. Chicago Review Press. pages 45,46. ISBN 1-55652-614-8
Preceded by
"Tomorrow Night" by Lonnie Johnson
Billboard Best Selling Retail Race Records number-one single (Wynonie Harris version)
June 19, 1948
Succeeded by
"Tomorrow Night" by Lonnie Johnson
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