Everyone knows this rockabilly classic: Jerry Lee Lewis's 1957 "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On."
Was "Shakin'" a tune Jerry Lee created? No. Read on
There's no question, his is the all-time definitive version, but not the first. Roy Hall, an older "country boogie" singer-pianist who'd been recording for years, claimed he co-wrote the song with black musician "Curlee" Williams (Williams may have written it himself).
R&B singer Big Maybelle first recorded "Shakin'" in early 1955, accompanied by a band led by…Quincy Jones. It's pretty different from the hit version.
Hall owned an after-hours club in Nashville. And when a young, unknown Lewis came to town to break into professional music, auditioning around town, Hall hired him to perform at his place and recorded "Shakin'" in November 1955 for Decca Records, a year before Lewis first auditioned at Sun in Memphis.
This is Hall's original. There's little doubt Jerry Lee heard Hall sing it live or heard this record.
Jerry Lee's earlier Nashville visit didn't go so well. The Grand Ole Opry turned him down since they already had Moon Mullican, the Texas musician who'd been playing piano and singing country, boogie-woogie and blues before Jerry Lee was born. Mullican was a huge influence on Jerry's style.
Recalling those auditions for Nashville record producers, Jerry remembered one telling him, "Well, you change your act to (playing) a guitar and you might make it."
Jerry added his terse response: "You can take your guitar, and ram it up your …."
Crude? Sure, but today Lewis's Sun single of "Whole Lotta Shakin" is one of the select group of recordings in the National Recording Registry at the Library of Congress.