GET IN THE RING — Chuck Berry “Memphis, Tennessee” and Me vs Johnny Rivers “Memphis, Tennessee” and My Late-Mom & How She & This Song HAUNT Me!

GET IN THE RING — Chuck Berry “Memphis, Tennessee” and Me vs Johnny Rivers “Memphis, Tennessee” and My Late-Mom & How She & This Song HAUNT Me!
March 4, 2017 | By More


Chuck Berry ‎– Memphis Tennessee / School Days
Label: Chess ‎– CH 9030
Series: Blue Chip Series –
Format: Vinyl, 7″, 45 RPM, Reissue
Country: US
Released: 1972 (originally released in 1959)
Genre: Rock
Style: Rock & Roll



Johnny Rivers ‎– Memphis / It Wouldn’t Happen With Me
Genre: Rock, Pop
Style: Rock & Roll, Pop Rock
Year: 1964

You ask yourself, “WTF is this all about?” Well, let me explain as it is at times creepy, spooky, delirious and kooky…oh wait, that is something else but this is all those things but it is also funny & makes you wonder “Is there such a thing as a Ghost?” No, I’m not talking about that lame boy band/marketing scheme disguised as some Black Sabbath for a new generation. I’m talking about GHOSTS!

For years, my Mom and I had this running argument about whose version of “Memphis, Tennessee” was the best. I thought the original by Chuck Berry was the best whereas she stalked Johnny Rivers so she thought his version was best. Anytime somebody else covered the tune we’d automatically compare it against our argument.

Matter of fact, in 1998 when Izzy Stradlin issued his “117°” solo album, he included a version of “Memphis, Tennessee” that I thought whipped ol’ Johnny Baby’s ass….Johnny Baby was my Moms pet name for Johnny Rivers. I’m sure she was probably screaming it at him when she made it past security and onto a stage in Wichita as he performed on a bill with Paul Revere & The Raiders. This 6 or 7 year old kid that witnessed this was bright red with embarrassment. She appreciated Izzy’s efforts but would not budge in her devotion for Johnny Rivers!

Fast forward to April 11, 2005. We had just had my Mom’s funeral and she had always asked that as we left her funeral that we tune our car stereo’s to her favorite oldies station, 103.7 KEYN, on our way to the post funeral get together. We had just began to exit the funeral home parking lot when a commercial ended and the DJ said “….and now, Johnny Rivers with Memphis, Tennessee!” My Dad, who I was riding with, looked at me with a smirk and said “Well, looks like your Mom got the last word in and won that argument!” While I was pissed, all I could do was smile and laugh! She did win and did get in the last word. Or did she?

Since her funeral, I’d heard Chuck and Johnny’s version on the radio multiple times but fast forward to 2014. My Unkle Bill had passed away and I inherited his MASSIVE collection of LP’s, 78’s and 45’s along with a working 1947 Philco Model 48-1290 Record Player Console. Prior to loading up the collection, I grabbed a random closed box of 45’s up from the floor. I opened the box to discover the first 45rpm in the stack was “Memphis, Tennessee” by Johnny Rivers! Arghhhhhhhh! Dammit, Mom, really!??!

Several times in 2016, I’d attend estate sales, auctions or buy LP collections from individuals only to disover multiple Johnny Rivers LP’s or 45’s with, you guessed it, “MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE”!!! Not one Chuck Berry LP or 45 with it, just Johnny Rivers!


The Beatles recorded five versions of “Memphis, Tennessee” for BBC radio. One version that was recorded on 30 July 1963 for the Pop Go The Beatles radio show was included on Live at the BBC in 1994. Another version that was recorded a few months later on 5 October 1963 for the Saturday Club radio show was included on On Air – Live at the BBC Volume 2 in 2013. The group first performed it for their failed Decca audition on 1 January 1962, with Pete Best on drums.

John Lennon – vocals, rhythm guitar
Paul McCartney – bass
George Harrison – lead guitar
Ringo Starr – drums

The song has been covered by many artists, including The Who (as The High Numbers), Hasil Adkins, The Animals, Paul Anka, Count Basie, Dave Berry, John Cale, Lado Leskovar, Riblja Čorba, Don Covay, The Dave Clark Five, Bo Diddley, Faces, Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs, Fotheringay, Al Green, The Hollies, Jan and Dean, Tom Jones, Sammy Kershaw, Fred Knoblock, Jerry Lee Lewis, Lonnie Mack, Mother McCree’s Uptown Jug Champions (a predecessor of Grateful Dead), Mrs. Miller, Roy Orbison, Buck Owens, Elvis Presley, Johnny Rivers, The Rolling Stones, Del Shannon, Silicon Teens, Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders, The Statler Brothers, Izzy Stradlin, Rod Stewart, Gene Summers, George Thorogood, Ernest Tubb, Conway Twitty, The Ventures, Zippy Kid, Danny and the Fat Boys (Danny Gatton), Hank Williams Jr., Faron Young and most recently Toby Keith on the Clancy’s Tavern (Deluxe Edition) album and Irish singer-songwriter Eleanor McEvoy in her album “Stuff”…..and, YES, I have ALL these versions of the song plus others!!!

In memory of my Mom, Faelieen “Faye” Crafton –
April 13, 1955 to April 10, 2005.

I got THE last word in!!!

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Category: Opinions/Editorials

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