The year of 1957 was unforgettable for Little Richard. In the US, he had four chart singles and six chart songs, because two of them had flipsides that qualified in their own right. As rock‘n’roll spread like wildfire on the other side of the Atlantic, the Georgia Peach was cleaning up there too.
Richard placed no fewer than seven singles on the UK chart during the course of 1957, making his chart entrance with the fifth of them, “Jenny, Jenny,” on September 14. Another track from his dynamite debut album Here’s Little Richard, it was written by the artist, aka Richard Penniman, and Enotris Johnson.
Like his other gems for the Specialty label, “Jenny, Jenny” featured the great New Orleans sidemen Lee Allen and Alvin “Red” Tyler on horns, plus Earl Palmer, later described by Richard as “probably the greatest session drummer of all time.” Production was by the equally revered Otis “Bumps” Blackwell.
A transatlantic catch-up
When the year began, Richard had precisely one week to his name on the UK bestsellers, with the belated and modest appearance of “Rip It Up.” He’d been electrifying the American scene for the whole of 1956, but now Britain had caught on. He made the UK top ten early in ’57 with “Long Tall Sally,” scored lesser hits with “Tutti Frutti” and “She’s Got It,” then hit the top ten again with “The Girl Can’t Help It” and “Lucille.”
“Jenny, Jenny” debuted in the UK at No.15 and reached its No.11 peak two weeks later. Richard still wasn’t done, appearing again in November with “Keep A Knockin’,” which managed a No.21 peak. They were all part of a year that he would never forget, nor indeed repeat in the UK. Of all of his 1950s singles to make the charts there during that era, a total of 13, more than half of them came in 1957.
“Jenny, Jenny” is on Here’s Little Richard, which can be bought here.
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