Friday, July 4, 1975

50 years ago: “Sweet Georgia Brown” hit #1

Sweet Georgia Brown

Ben Bernie

Writer(s): Ben Bernie, Kenneth Casey, Maceo Pinkard (see lyrics here)

First Charted: June 27, 1925

Peak: 15 US, 2 GA, 2 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): --

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 0.46 video, 0.29 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

The song that has become adopted in 1952 as the theme song for the Harlem Globetrotters WK was introduced in 1925 by Ben Bernie. He was born Benjamin Anzelevitz in New Jersey in 1891. He was a jazz violinist and vaudeville performer before he started a dance band and became a radio personality. He charted 44 songs from 1923 to 1936 with three chart-toppers – “Sweet Georgia Brown” (1925), “Sleepy Time Gal” (1926), and “Ain’t She Sweet?” (1927).

Bernie reportedly came up with the lyrical concept (although Kenneth Casey is the credited lyricist) after meeting Dr. George Thaddeus Brown, a member of the Georgia State House of Representatives. Brown told Bernie how the Georgia General Assembly had issued a declaration that his daughter, born in 1911, was to be named Georgia after the state. WK

“The chorus lyrics assure us there is no gal has even been made like ‘Sweet Georgia Brown.’ She may have two left feet, but she is really neat. The only men she can’t attract are those she hasn’t met. The chorus ends with ‘Georgia claimed her, Georgia named her, Sweet Georgia Brown.’” TY2

“Sweet Georgia Brown” became one of the most recorded songs during the pre-rock era. TY2 There have been chart versions by Brother Bones (#10, 1949), Bing Crosby (#2, 1932), Isham Jones (#5, 1925), and Ethel Waters (#6, 1925). PM The instrumental version by Brother Bones is the one adopted by the Harlem Globetrotters. WK

Others to record the song included Louis Armstrong, Mel Brooks, Carol Burnett, Cab Calloway, Roberta Flack, Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Goodman, Coleman Hawkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Charles Mingus, Charlie Parker, Oscar Peterson, Tony Sheridan with the Beatles, Nancy Sinatra, and Art Tatum. WK It has also been featured in musicals and movies including Broadway (1942), Some Like It Hot (1959), Bubbling Brown Sugar (1976), Oscar (1991), and Sweet and Low Down (1999). TY2


First posted 4/25/2023.

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