March 10, 2006

Four Kings (Part 2): Tommy & Freddy's W(h)ammy and Eddie's Dog

"Double Eyed Whammy" (T. Ridgley)
Tommy Ridgley, Ric 978, 1961
(Tune in to HOTG Internet Radio)

"San-Ho-Zay" (King-Thompon)
Freddy King, Federal 12428, 1961
(Tune in to HOTG Internet Radio)

As a fan of blues belter, guitar giant Freddy (a/k/a Freddie) King and a stone New Orleans music freak, I had noticed the similarity of the main riff and the melody line in King’s classic instrumental, “San-Ho-Zay”, to Tommy Ridgley’s song, “Double Eyed Whammy”. Ridgley recorded his swingin’ slice of proto-funk in late 1960; and it was released early in 1961. “San-Ho-Zay” was cut in April, 1961 and charted that July (#4 R&B, #47 Pop). Jeff Hannusch, in his second book on New Orleans R&B, The Soul Of New Orleans, calls King’s side a “cover” of Ridgley’s; but, to put it more accurately, Freddy appears to have appropriated Tommy’s tune, changed it a bit, and re-titled it without giving the writer credit and depriving him of royalties from the hit. That’s the music business. All’s fair unless you’re caught.

But, in the spirit of full disclosure and to spread the blame and/or inspiration a bit further, I think Ridgley probably “borrowed” the riff on “Whammy” from this earlier Eddie Bo release

“Every Dog Got His Day” (Johnson-Douglas)
Eddie Bo, Ric 969, 1960
(Tune in to HOTG Internet Radio)

This was on Bo’s third single for Ric b/w “Tell It Like It Is”. The title is mistakenly shown as “Every Dog Has Its Day” on the Rounder comp listed below. Written in the name of his wife at the time, this single made some noise in the charts and was popular locally, and rightly so. Both “Every Dog” and its flip are rockin’ numbers. Since Bo was also arranging, songwriting, and playing sessions for Ric at the same time Ridgley was recording for the label, recycling that riff on “Double Eyed Whammy” may have been his idea, or at least done with this blessing. Hell, maybe he took it from someone else in the first place. You’ll note that Bo repeats the riff much more here than it is used in the two songs above; and the melody line differs; but there was definitely a Bo contribution in the woodshed on “Whammy” and “San-Ho-Zay”.

Neither Bo nor Ridgley sued King for infringement, though; and the relationship of these three songs makes a good enough story for a post; but, last summer, I ran across another Freddy King single (not to be confused with his “She Put The Whammy On Me”, a different song!):

"Double Eyed Wammy" (F. King - T. Rixby)
Freddy King and His Orchestra, King 6057, 1966

(Tune in to HOTG Internet Radio)

Another kink uncovered! I had to laugh about the lame attempt to even partially credit Tommy Ridgley on the single, showing the co-writer as “T. Rixby” . If Freddy was trying to make things right some five years after his initial rip-off, this was counterproductive, to say the least.

Here King does a rocked-out blues vocal version of “Whammy” that is fairly faithful in the lyrics and melody. But, what’s really strange about his “Wammy” is that King doesn’t use the defining, attention-grabbing riff anywhere in it. Even with his great performance, the song just lacks some punch without those licks, to me.

[Note: Commenter bbb has pointed out another Freddy King/Tommy Ridgley connection that I missed. He says that on the same day (Sept. 14, 1966) that King recorded "Double Eyed Wammy", he cut another Ridgley tune, "Girl From Kookamunga". I now see that King's version of that song was released on King 6080 in 1967. The original tune came out on Ric 984 in 1961. bbb also notes that King is backed on both "Wammy" and "Kookamunga" by Lonnie Mac and his band. Cool. Good work, bbb!]

So, that’s the tale of how two of New Orleans finest songwriters and performers had an influence on two of Mr. Freddy King’s records, not that it did them any good. All four of these songs are outstanding, heard on their own merits; but, I hope the back story gives you a little more insight into and appreciation of those often obscure, convoluted HOTG connections.

“Double Eyed Whammy”, San-Ho-Zay” and “Every Dog Got His (Has Its) Day” can be found on these compilations:
Tommy Ridgley: the New Orleans King Of The Stroll
The Very Best Of Freddy King, Vol. 1
Eddie Bo: Check Mr. Popeye


Anonymous Anonymous said...

super great
double eyed whammy (f.KING)
is Freddy King with Lonnie Mac & his band
the same day(14 september 1966) they recorded an other song by Tommy Ridgley
"the girl from kookamunga "
thank you again for this great blog

12:06 AM, March 11, 2006  
Blogger Dan Phillips said...

Thank you, bbb! I missed his version of "The Girl From Kookamunga", when I was reading the King Records discography. Looks like it wasn't released until 1967. I haven't heard that one; but, of course, I have heard Tommy Ridgley's orginal recording on Ric from 1961. I'll put King's cover on my search list. And, I think I'll add this info to the post. Appreciate it.

9:52 AM, March 11, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. Not only, and as usual, entertaining, but it's bloody interesting as well. This is an example of 'the art of blog'. Thanks from jAKAsso!

10:14 PM, March 11, 2006  
Blogger Larry Grogan said...

Great story/tracking job Dan! I love Freddy King, but now I have to track down the Ridgley stuff.

1:23 PM, March 15, 2006  

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