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5/7/10 – The History of “See See Rider” Cat Fight!

Posted: May 7th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Blues, R&B, Rock n' Roll | Tags: , , , , , , , | 11 Comments »

Friday Night Cat Fight Radio Show

History Of

See See Rider Blues”


This week, I trace the history of another blues and rock n’ roll standard, “See See Rider.”  It’s one of those songs that just feels like it’s been around forever, but like every great tune, there’s a story to tell.  Ma Rainey first dropped this on shellac in 1924 with the help of Louis Armstrong’s band.  It became a sensation in 1925 and that lead to many different covers of the tune.  I’m presenting a brilliant version by Bea Booze (1943), a doo wop version by The Orioles (1952), the first rock n’ roll version by Chuck Willis (1957), LaVern Bakers retelling of the tale (1962) and the Animals’ “take no prisoners” take from 1966.  Listen to all six versions in their entirety before making your decision and voting for your favorite.  I will also have a collage that features versions by Leadbelly, Mississippi John Hurt and Elvis Presley. 

Also on this week’s show, we bet on the horse races, hear a killer record from The Calvanes AND pay special birthday tributes to Johnny Maestro and Ricky Nelson. 

So listen, vote AND DIG!

Which One Do You DIG The Most? - "See See Rider"

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11 Comments on “5/7/10 – The History of “See See Rider” Cat Fight!”

  1. 1 Ken said at 11:55 am on May 7th, 2010:

    I grew up in the sixties listening to the animals and I like the up beat version.

  2. 2 The other Ken said at 12:33 pm on May 7th, 2010:

    This is fun stuff, I enjoy the history of a song. The Chuck Willis version is what I remember first but I’ve always been an Animals fan so they get my vote.

  3. 3 Yum Yum said at 1:35 pm on May 7th, 2010:

    The Animals If i could Talk To The Animals i would tell them they did the best rockin version of the song See See Rider !! Yum Yum

  4. 4 RichZ said at 7:55 pm on May 7th, 2010:

    This was almost a 3 way toss up for me, among the Orioles, Chuck Willis, and my eventual vote getter, Wee Bea Booze. It may be the unfamiliarity of the version, as I’ve never heard it before. But I went through and listened to the three renditions in question again. And then Bea and Sonny one more time each, and finally decided to go with the purity of the Bea Booze version.

    For what it’s worth, I find the Animals’ version boring and repetitive (yeah, I know the song is basically repetitive, but somehow, they make it sound more so). Perhaps it’s my built in bias against ’60s music, but there’s Animals’ stuff that overcomes that, so I don’t believe that’s the reason I don’t and never did like their version.

    I never liked the background vocalists in LaVerne’s version all that much, and Ma Rainey just didn’t do anything for me. Not sure why not.

    Still think we need a Big Jay/ Bobby Marchan/Etta & BB (along with many other versions from the likes of ‘Fess, Hollywood Flames, Sleepy Labeef, and even a reggae version by Hubert Lee) catfight with ‘There is Something on Your Mind’.

  5. 5 Steve in Arizona said at 10:00 pm on May 7th, 2010:

    Mississippi John Hurt gets my vote. Oops, can’t vote for him so its Bea Booze for me.

  6. 6 Virginia said at 11:40 pm on May 7th, 2010:

    All you young whippersnappers’ voting for “The Animals” probably weren’t old enough to do the stroll “Chuck Willis” is the man. Wee Bea Boozes’ version was my second choice. Thanks again Matt for all the hard work you do for us for free.

  7. 7 Bruce said at 2:05 am on May 8th, 2010:

    Bea all the way, great vocals with a sweet piano line going on in the background. It’s the one I kept coming back to.

    Chuck Wills did a pretty good job, but I was informed by a rockabilly DJ that men don’t stroll or should ever consider strolling so I had to give this one a pass (I was afraid it would tempt me to stroll)

    The Animals, I agree with Rich, boring. If that guitar riff rolls around one more time….

    Just for the heck of it I listened to a bunch of other versions via sound clips (and there is a ton). The New Orleans style jazz band that backs up Dave Van Ronk on his version gets my vote too.

  8. 8 Scuba Stew said at 1:39 pm on May 9th, 2010:

    I felt Ma Rainey put alot of heart into the song, but my vote goes to Bea Booze. With her vocalizing style and the background accompaniment she had, the overall effect was bluesie, haunting and melodic at the same time.

  9. 9 Bevnut said at 1:17 pm on May 11th, 2010:

    Wee Bea Booze did it for me. She sounded like she meant it. Another great recording that I’d never heard before!

    Juke in the Back – terrific show! Thanks Matt.

  10. 10 The Shadow said at 5:03 pm on May 11th, 2010:

    Though I usually go for original versions, Ma Rainey was a bit too early, even for me. It was an interesting version though. Chuck Willis’ version, I’ve heard too many times to be in consideration. Though I dig LaVerne, this was not her best effort. The Animals, are like Chuck, and LaVerne in this respect, I’ve heard both too many times, and this song wasn’t their best
    That leaves Bea Booze, and the Orioles.
    This was the hard part for me. Though Bea did a great job, The Orioles edged her out by a hair. I love the doo wop version just a bit better. All in all, it was a great cat fight and an interesting history of the song.
    By the way, I love the Juke In The Back. Keep em comin, and KEEP ON PROWLIN!!!!

  11. 11 Crystal said at 11:35 pm on May 11th, 2010:

    My dilema was the same as RichZ but I finally went with the Orioles. As much as I
    like the Animals it didn’t work for me when compared to the others.

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