Sunday, June 17, 2007

Jerry Lee Lewis charted with “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” 50 years ago today (6/17/1957)

Last updated 4/15/2020.

Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On

Jerry Lee Lewis

Writer(s): Dave Williams, Roy Hall (see lyrics here)


Released: April 15, 1957


First Charted: June 17, 1957


Peak: 3 US, 5 CB, 5 HR, 12 CW, 12 RB, 8 UK (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, -- UK, 6.0 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, -- video, -- streaming

Awards:

About the Song:

In April 1956, Jerry Lee Lewis was booked for a gig at the Rebel Room in Osceola, Arkansas. When the band ran out of material, Lewis turned to a song that had been recorded four times – one by writer Roy Hall – but had yet to meet with success. RS500 Obviously Lewis – and the crowd – was taken with the song. He performed it 21 times in a row! SJ

When it came time to capture the song in the studio, producer “Cowboy” Jack Clement wisely opted to capture the manic energy of Lewis’ stage presence. As Clement said, “I just simply turned on the machine, mixed it on the fly.” RS500

The song is “as perfect a rock and roll record as one could hope to find” WI thanks to two primary ingredients. On the piano, Lewis blend of “honky-tonk and blues shuffle” MA in “a relentless, pounding boogie rhythm” AMG left listeners’ mouths agape and their toes a-tapping. “Like Lewis himself, [they] had a hard time remaining seated during the performance.” NRR

Meanwhile, the lyrics left some listeners aghast; the words “were rather lascivious and quite shocking coming from a singer from the Bible Belt” SF making the case “that prudes really did have something to fear from rock and roll.” MA Song-licensing organization BMI thought so, initially banning the song, WI but it became a hit after Lewis’ TV debut on July 28, 1957 on The Steve Allen Show. SF The song has become “a testament to the power of charm, its ability to…smuggle…craziness into the homes and hearts of normal law-abiding citizens.” WI


Resources and Related Links:

  • Jerry Lee Lewis’ DMDB Encyclopedia entry
  • AMG All Music Guide review by Cub Koda
  • SJ Bob Shannon and John Javna (1986). Behind the Hits: Inside Stories of Classic Pop and Rock and Roll. New York, NY; Warner Brothers, Inc.
  • MA Dave Marsh (1989). The Heart of Rock and Soul: The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made. New York, NY; New American Library. Pages 16-7.
  • NRR National Recording Registry
  • SJ Bob Shannon and John Javna (1986). Behind the Hits: Inside Stories of Classic Pop and Rock and Roll. New York, NY; Warner Brothers, Inc. Page 210.
  • RS500 RollingStone.com (2011). “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time
  • SF Songfacts
  • WI Paul Williams (1993). Rock and Roll: The Best 100 Singles. New York, NY: Carroll & Graf Publishers, Inc. Pages 33-4.

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