First recorded by Bo Diddley (1955).
Inspired by “Hoochie Coochie Man” by Muddy Waters (1954).
Popular versions by the Yardbirds (1964), the Yardbirds (1965).
From the wiki: “‘I’m a Man’ is a rhythm and blues song written and recorded by Bo Diddley in 1955 (credited to ‘E[llas] Daniels’, Bo Diddley’s birth name), and was one of the first songs Diddley recorded for Checker Records.
“Unlike his self-titled ‘Bo Diddley’, recorded the same day (March 2, 1955 in Chicago), ‘I’m a Man’ does not use the ‘Bo Diddley beat’. Rather, it was inspired by Muddy Waters’ 1954 song ‘Hoochie Coochie Man’, written by Willie Dixon. After Bo Diddley’s release, Waters recorded an ‘answer song’ to ‘I’m a Man’, in May 1955, titled ‘Mannish Boy’, a play on words on Bo Diddley’s younger age as it related to the primary theme of the song.
“In a Rolling Stone magazine interview, Bo Diddley recounts that the song took a long time to record because of confusion regarding the timing of the ‘M … A … N’ vocal chorus.
“English rock band the Yardbirds recorded a live version of ‘I’m a Man’ for their first UK album Five Live Yardbirds with Eric Clapton (recorded live at the Marquee Club, London) in 1964, that was later included on their second American album, Having a Rave Up with The Yardbirds. In 1965 during their first American tour, the Yardbirds with Jeff Beck on guitar, recorded a studio version of ‘I’m a Man’, that is also included on Having a Rave Up. Their versions feature their signature ‘rave-up’ arrangement, when the beat shifts into double time and the instrumentation builds to a crescendo. Beck added a ‘scratch-picking’ technique to produce a percussive effect during the song’s instrumental section, which critic Cub Koda notes ‘provides the climax on the studio version of ‘I’m a Man’, perhaps the most famous Yardbirds rave-up of all.’
“Bo Diddley’s original ‘I’m a Man’ is ranked #369 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of ‘The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time’. In 2012, the song, along with its self-named A-side song ‘Bo Diddley’, was added to the Library of Congress’s National Recording Registry list of ‘culturally, historically, or aesthetically important’ American sound recordings. In 2018, ‘I’m a Man’ was inducted into the Blues Foundation Blues Hall of Fame as a ‘Classic of Blues Recording’.”
Muddy Waters, “Hoochie Coochie man” (1954):
The Yardbirds, “I’m a Man” live version (1964):
The Yardbirds, “I’m a Man” studio version (1965):