Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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My Ding-a-Ling

Written and first recorded by Dave Bartholomew (1952).
Hit version by Chuck Berry (US #1/&B #42/UK #1 1972).

From the wiki: “‘My Ding-a-Ling’ was originally recorded by Dave Bartholomew in 1952 for King Records. When Bartholomew moved to Imperial Records, he re-recorded the song under the new title, ‘Little Girl Sing Ding-a-Ling.’ (In 1954, The Bees also released a version on Imperial titled ‘Toy Bell.’) Bartholomew’s partnership with Fats Domino on Imperial Records produced some of his greatest successes. In the mid 1950s they co-wrote more than forty hits, including two songs that reached #1 on the Billboard R&B chart, ‘Goin’ Home’ and ‘Ain’t That a Shame’, along with ‘I’m Walkin”, ‘I Hear You Knocking‘ and ‘One Night‘. Bartholomew is a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and The Louisiana Music Hall of Fame.

“Chuck Berry recorded a version called ‘My Tambourine’ in 1968, but the version which topped the charts was recorded live during the Lanchester Arts Festival at the Locarno ballroom in Coventry, UK, in 1972, where Berry – backed by The Roy Young Band – topped a bill that also included Slade and Billy Preston. Boston radio station WMEX disc jockey Jim Connors was credited with a gold record for discovering the song and pushing it to #1 over the airwaves and amongst his peers in the United States.

“The lyrics with their sly tone and innuendo (and the enthusiasm of Berry and the audience) caused many radio stations to refuse to play it. British morality campaigner Mary Whitehouse tried unsuccessfully to get the song banned. ‘One teacher’, Whitehouse wrote to the BBC’s Director General, ‘told us of how she found a class of small boys with their trousers undone, singing the song and giving it the indecent interpretation which—in spite of all the hullabaloo—is so obvious … We trust you will agree with us that it is no part of the function of the BBC to be the vehicle of songs which stimulate this kind of behavior — indeed quite the reverse.’ Some radio stations in the US, in 1972, would refuse to play the song when it was included in the weekly American Top 40 program, even when it reached #1.”

The Bees, “Toy Bell” (1954):

Chuck Berry, “My Tambourine” (1968):

Chuck Berry, “My Ding-a-Ling” (1972):

Chuck Berry, “My Ding-a-Ling” live British TV performance, with additional lyrics (1972):

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3 comments for “My Ding-a-Ling

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