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When Little Richard Sang Jerry Lee Lewis

In 1964, one rock ‘n’ roll original covered another, as Richard charted with ‘Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On.’

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Little Richard Whole Lotta Shakin'

Little Richard Is Back, proclaimed the 1964 album by the Georgia Peach. In fact, after “going gospel” in 1960, he had returned to rock ‘n’ roll two years later, touring internationally with a package tour promoted by emerging impresario Don Arden. Then Richard shared a bill at the Star Club in Hamburg with The Beatles, where his existing influence on the Liverpool group was further strengthened.

Whole Lotta Shakin' Little RichardIn 1963, Richard toured with the new Liverpool stars in the UK, then with the Everly Brothers, before starting a series of recording sessions for the Vee-Jay label in March of ’64. These would result in the Little Richard Is Back album, released that summer, and one of the first tracks cut for it gave him a minor chart entry on 12 September 1964, as he acknowledged a fellow rock ‘n’ roll original.

Richard’s version of Jerry Lee Lewis’ 1957 classic ‘Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On’ didn’t make the US pop chart, although its b-side, his reading of ‘Goodnight Irene,’ did bubble under the Hot 100, ranking as high as No. 128. This was during the 14-month period in which Billboard did not publish an R&B chart, but ‘Whole Lotta Shakin’ did feature on rival trade publication Cashbox’s Top 50 In R&B Locations list, appearing for the first time on 12 September 1964 and reaching No. 42.

The album, fully titled Little Richard Is Back (And There’s A Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On!), featured many other interpretations by Little Richard of established numbers. They were drawn both from the world of rock ‘n’ roll (‘Money Honey,’ ‘Short Fat Fannie,’ ‘Blueberry Hill’) and beyond (‘Memories Are Made Of This’). The album didn’t make the chart, but soon Richard was re-recording his own vintage hits for Vee-Jay, for the 1965 album titled Little Richard’s Greatest Hits.

‘Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On’ is on Little Richard Is Back, which can be bought here.


Follow the 50s playlist for the best of the entire decade, from teen pop to rock ‘n’ roll.

Format: UK English


  1. Phil

    October 24, 2016 at 9:59 am

    Richards 1964 Shakin ‘ made I believe #124 (please go to “timo’s page” for little richard on the web.)

  2. Phil

    December 23, 2016 at 9:06 am

    Yes both sides hit regionally . Richard took the Beatles on tour in 1962.
    He first recorded gospel in 1959.
    He went back to gospel after one rock and roll recording session November 24, 1962. He did sing rock on the oct/nov 1962 tour .
    He first recorded for Vee Jay in June of 1964, not March . He cut for Specialty March to May , 1964. A Jazz discography from around 1970 days he cut “Shakin'” for Specialty, in 1964.
    Richard cut “Shakin'” in 1957, 1964, 1966 , 1967. There’s a 1993 live cd out with the song . He sang it on The Mike Douglas Show, in 1970.

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