HAMBONE

Latest update on 14/05/2012

Artist: Hambone Kids
Author: traditional
Year: 1952

During an Amateur Hour tv-show. Two of these Chicago school kids were Sammy McGreer (his father provided lyrical bits from Mockingbird) and Dee Clark. They were inspired by another school kid, fresh from Mississippi. Hambone combines dancing while slapping various parts of the body. Known in slavery days as Patting Juba, when blacks were not allowed to keep musical instruments, percussion instruments in particular, for fear of using them as weapon or to communicate over distance.

Covers:

1952:

Red Saunders Orch. [novelty hit for Okeh feat. Dolores Hawkins and the same Hambone Kids (see note)]

1952:

Phil Harris & Belle Sisters

1952:

Frankie Laine & Jo Stafford

1952:

Tennessee Ernie Ford

1955:

Bo Diddley [similar rhythm in Bo Diddley and with same lyrical input from Mockingbird as Red Saunders' version; most of his later hits were based upon this same rhythm; besides, somewhere in the Hambone lyrics a Mr Bo is mentioned]

1956:

Buddy Holly [idem]

1959:

Dee Clark [in Hey Little Girl; one of the original Hambone Kids under her real name Delecta Clark]

1959:

Lonnie Young, Ed Young & G.D. Young [as Oree; Alan Lomax recording in the North Mississippi Hills; danse must have been popular since the early 20th century and is also known as Ida Reed; Lomax probably misunderstood it as Oree]

1960:

Bessie Jones [Alan Lomax recording probably loyal to the original rhythm]

1960:

Rayburn Anthony [for Sun]

1960:

Paul Evans [as Hambone Rock]

1962:

Carl Perkins [as Hambone]

1962:

Shadows [as Bo Diddley]

1963:

Ronnie Hawkins [idem]

1963:

Dick Shawn [parody]

1964:

Animals [as Bo Diddley]

1966:

Bill Haley [as Pancho]

1969:

Napoleon Strickland [as Shimme She Wobble and in '70 as Soft Black Jersey Cow]

2007:

Key Frances

The Young Brothers recording may be younger, but that doesn't make Bo Diddley the original. In their absolute North Mississippi Hill remoteness they almost certainly never heard anything like the Bo Diddley beat, while Bo - with all respect - can't fully claim that beat as his own invention. The rhythm comes straight from African hambone patterns. The name Bo Diddley (alias for Ellas McDaniel) also comes from Africa: the diddley bow is a one-string instrument, also used in the southern United States, sometimes nailed to the wall of a country shack, using the whole building as an echo chamber. Songs as Willie And The Hand Jive (see there), Not Fade Away (see there), Cannonball (Duane Eddy) and Magic Bus (see there) lean heavily on the Bo Diddley beat (see also: Hey Bo Diddley). Bo's comment: "I opened the door and everybody ran through it. I was left holding the door knob." The son clave, at the core of practically all Afro-Cuban music, is also indebted. For the Shave And A Haircut, Two Bits-connection, see: That's It.

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