On March 12, 1956 drummer and vocalist, Billy Gayles, recorded “I’m Tore Up” in Cincinnati at the King Records studio backed by Ike Turner and His Rhythm Rockers:
“I’m Tore Up” Billy Gayles 1956
Note the songwriting credits: Ike Turner & Ralph Bass
Nearly five years later on January 18, 1961, guitarist and singer, Freddy King, recorded “I’m Tore Down” in the same location, with Sonny Thompson on piano, Bill Willis on bass, two (possibly three) tenor hornsmen — and drummer, Philip Paul (profiled in depth here):
“I’m Tore Down” Freddy King 1961
Raise your hand if you hear Eric Clapton every time Freddy sings one of those high notes.
Did King (actually, Sonny Thompson) write his song as a playful riposte to Gayles? How likely is that he had simply been unaware of the work of a fellow King recording artist?
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Goodbye 78s: The Slow Death of the 10-Inch Record
Interesting to note that the Gayles song from 1956 had also been issued as a 78, but the same cannot be said for King’s 1961 single.
The song that launched a national dance craze – The Twist – cast an unbelievably long shadow. Even though Hank Ballard’s original version of the song was released on King in 1959, groups were putting out twist songs well into 1962.* I was reminded of this fact recently when listening to Etta James’ version of “Fools Rush In” from 1962, and I noticed that Etta playfully sings at the song’s conclusion, “Open up your heart and let this fool twist on in,” instead of the original lyric “…let this fool rush in.”
One of my favorite Twist songs was recorded in Cincinnati in February 1962 by Lula Reed & Freddy King with Sonny Thompson‘s Orchestra and issued on King subidiary, Federal – “Do the President Twist“:
“John, Jackie and the baby, too – if they can do it, so can you,” sing Lula & Freddy. Could this be the first depiction of a US President embracing the “new” rock music?
*Historical note: “The Twist” enjoys the distinction of being the only single to reach #1 in two different chart runs – September 19, 1960 (for one week) and then again mysteriously on January 13, 1962 (for two weeks).