Thursday, March 3, 2011

LADIES FIRST: "See See Rider" - Ma Rainey > Janis Joplin > Mitch Ryder



LADIES FIRST spotlights classic songs that'she did first'.

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Many folks know "See See Rider" from the mid-'60s hit by Mitch Ryder. But the song had a forty year history before that.


Gertrude "Ma" Rainey did the original in 1924. In the new world of vinyl records, it was the huge popularity of women like Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey that put Blues music on the map and ushered the vinyl revolution.

Here she is backed up by Louis Armstrong and Fletcher Henderson, who were concurrently defining Jazz for the future.

MA RAINEY -"See See Rider" (1924)



This Folk Blues take by Leadbelly changed young Martin Scorcese's life. "If I could have played guitar, really played it," he said, "I never would have become a filmmaker." Scorcese later made the BLUES documentary mini-series to expose new ears to the great legacy.

LEADBELLY -"See See Rider" (1935)



He was initially tipped to it, like many young people at the time, by this R'n'B version by Chuck Willis. The song is sometimes sung as "C.C. Rider" or "Easy Rider", the latter of which is a whole subcategory of other songs to itself.

CHUCK WILLIS -"C.C. Rider" (1957)



One of the queens of Atlantic Records, Lavern Baker did a slide and glide through it.

LAVERN BAKER -"See See Rider" (1963)



As well as some upstart girl from Texas (at 2:45).

JANIS JOPLIN -"See See Rider" (circa 1962-'63)




The most famous version is the medley of "See See Rider" and Little Richard's "Jenny Take A Ride" by Mitch Ryder And The Detroit Wheels, who must've been punning on his surname.

This band was essentially the template for Bruce Springsteen And The E Street Band, who also often covered Mitch's version in concert.

MITCH RYDER & The Detroit Wheels -"Jenny Take A Ride/ C.C. Rider" (1965)



The other most famous version is by The Animals, fronted by Soul belter Eric Burdon, which became a standard in his solo repertoire.

THE ANIMALS -"See See Rider" (1966)



The song has been covered over the decades by John Lee Hooker, Peggy Lee, Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, The Who, The Grateful Dead, and Elvis Costello.


© Tym Stevens



See Also:
-The Real History of Rock and Soul!: A Music Player Checklist

-WOMEN OF ROCK: The 1950s, with 2 Music Players


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