Roy Hall: Whole Lotta Shakin Goin On (1955)

 |   |  1 min read

Roy Hall: Whole Lotta Shakin Goin On (1955)

The origins of some songs are lost, but often a definitive version will stand out. So it is with Whole Lotta Shakin Goin On which exists in the minds of most as the Jerry Lee Lewis hit in '57.

Most would even think that Lewis wrote it. He didn't, although his whipped-up version is almost a different song than the one which existed previously.

Roy Hall always insisted that he co-wrote it with Dave Williams, although he didn't get around to recording it until late in '55 -- some six months after the singer Big Maybelle cut a version in New York.

In Nick Tosche's biography of Lewis, Hellfire, Hall -- described as "a hard-drinking piano player from Big Stone Gap, Virginia" -- claims he employed Jerry Lee in a club he owned in Nashville called the Musicians Hiideaway. The employment was brief but in that tiime Lewis may well have heard Whole Lotta Shakin. It certainly became a feature of his live act as he toured the South and in May '57 he cut it for Sam Phillips in Sun Studio.

His version was released on April 15 and Jerry Lee took off on a package tour with Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Wanda Jackson.

As Tosches wrote, "Fame lifted her skirt for the final wild son. As the summer passed, hot Southern day upon hot Southern night, the sound of Whole Lotta Shakin Goin On grew louder and more ominous . . . By the end of July, Whole Lotta Shakin Goin On had sold about 1000,000 copies."

What happened to Jerry Lee Lewis' career after that is the stuff of tabloid headlines -- and Roy Hall's career is but a footnote.

Hall's version isn't without interest however. He said he and Williams wrote it when they were drunk down in Florida, that he used a pseudonym when it came to copyright (which accounted for the confusion, the name on it was Sunny David) because he was trying to avoid the taxman, and he signed the papers when he was drunk too.

He sort of sounds it on the song as well.

And although Roy was a piano player this is Whole Lotta Shakin Goin On . . . without piano.

For more one-offs, oddities or songs with an interesting backstory see From the Vaults

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   From the Vaults articles index

Joel Grey: White Room (1969)

Joel Grey: White Room (1969)

Actor Joel Grey won a best supporting actor Academy Award in '72 for his role as the MC in the Liza Minnelli vehicle Cabaret, following his hugely successful portrayal of the character in the... > Read more

Shoes: Tomorrow Night (1978)

Shoes: Tomorrow Night (1978)

In that great alphabet of power pop kicked off by the Beatles and which includes Badfinger, Big Star, Cheap Trick and so on, the Shoes out of Zion, Illinois are perhaps the least known today.... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

GUEST VINYLIST ERIC CROSS shares his passion for surface noise, but preferably the lack of it

GUEST VINYLIST ERIC CROSS shares his passion for surface noise, but preferably the lack of it

It is disturbing to see so many websites dedicated to what can be done with old records. An Adam Ant fruit bowl anyone? It is not hard to imagine how many musical gems have been lost... > Read more

The Cash Box Kings: Hail to the Kings! (Alligator/Southbound)

The Cash Box Kings: Hail to the Kings! (Alligator/Southbound)

Just a consumer service here: this is a stacked thick, 13-song collection of Chicago blues on the Alligator label fronted by singer Oscar Wilson and harmonica honker/singer Joe Nosek who wrote... > Read more