Written and first recorded by James “Wee Willie” Wayne (1951).
Also recorded by Professor Longhair (1951), Louis Jordan (1952), Holy Modal Rounders (1964).
Popular versions by Richard Hayes (US #15 1952), Dr. John (1972), The Clash (1980).
From The Originals: “It’s almost a miracle we actually know this is a James Wayne song, for he was locked away in a madhouse for arson. All the while his royalties went in someone else’s pockets, not to mention the shrewd and obscure label boss Bob Shad, who signed for as many of Wayne’s compositions he could lay hands on. Here’s poor James in his mental institution claiming authorship to anyone he bumps in to.
Written and first recorded (as “Jock-a-mo”) by Sugar Boy & His Cane Cutters (1953).
Hit versions by The Dixie Cups (US #20 1965), Dr. John (US #71 1972), The Neville Brothers (1981), Natasha (UK #10 1982), Belle Stars (UK #35 1982 |US #14 1989), BeauSoleil (1989).
From the wiki: “The song, under the original title ‘Jock-A-Mo’, was written and released as a single in 1953 by James Crawford as ‘Sugar Boy & His Cane Cutters’ that failed to make the charts. The song that tells of a parade collision between two ‘tribes’ of Mardi Gras Indians and the traditional confrontation of a ‘spy boy’ (i.e. a lookout for one band of Indians) encountering the ‘flag boy’ or guidon carrier for another ‘tribe.’ He threatens to ‘set the flag on fire.’ Crawford set phrases chanted by Mardi Gras Indians* to music for the song but himself states that he had no idea what the words meant, and that he originally sang the phrase ‘Chock-a-mo’. But, the title was misheard by Chess Records president Leonard Chess, who misspelled it on the label as ‘Jock-a-mo’ for the record’s release.
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