History of the Song: "Sing, Sing, Sing"

Sing, Sing, Sing

"Sing, Sing, Sing (With a Swing)" is a classic Swing recording that was originally written by Louis Prima and covered by artists like Jimmy Dorsey, The Andrews Sisters and taken to new heights by The King of Swing, Benny Goodman.

In early 1936, Louis Prima recorded the first version of "Sing, Sing, Sing" with the New Orleans Gang.  Prima wrote both the music and the lyrics for the song.  It contained all of the Louis Prima trademarks including a fun, bouncy beat and catchy lyrics.

Listen to "Sing, Sing, Sing" by Louis Prima

In July of 1937, Benny Goodman and His Band recorded their instrumental version of the song. The length of standard songs released at that time were about 3 to 4 minutes so they could be recorded on one side of a 10-inch 78-rpm record. Goodman's version of "Sing, Sing, Sing" clocked in at 8 minutes and 43 seconds and it took up both sides of a 12-inch 78.  It's still retained some of Prima's catchy riffs, but overall the Goodman version only slightly resembled the original recording.  The song became "a full out jam session" featuring Benny and his band members.

...and what a band!  In 1937, The Benny Goodman Orchestra included names like: Harry James, Ziggy Elman, Red Ballard and, of course, Gene Krupa on drums. In an interview, band vocalist Helen Ward, who was there for the recording sessions stated that changes in the song just started happening spontaneously. Helen said, "One night Gene just refused to stop drumming when he got to the end of the third chorus, where the tune was supposed to end, so Benny blithely picked up the clarinet and noodled along with him. Then someone else stood up and took it, and it went on from there."  Elements from the song "Christopher Columbus" were also incorporated "Sing, Sing, Sing" and the credits for the Goodman version acknowledge this in the title - "Sing, Sing, Sing" (introducing Christopher Columbus)”.

Listen to: "Sing, Sing, Sing" by Benny Goodman

Benny Goodman played a classic variation of his version of "Sing, Sing, Sing" at his famous 1938 Carnegie Hall Concert that was filled with impromptu solos by band members. That recording is a bit different from the studio cut and is over 12 minutes in length. In my opinion, it may be the best version of them all!

Note: The Gene Krupa drum solo in the Goodman studio release was one of the first commercial recordings to feature an extended drum solo. Also worth noting is the Goodman version was arranged by Jimmy Mundy.

All three of the versions mentioned in this post are played right here on Swing City Radio.

Swing City Radio: Playing Your Big Band and Swing Music Favorites from the 1930's, 40's and Today! - Big Band Radio Station Broadcasting Online from King of Prussia, PA.

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