It was Jerry Lee Lewis’ second single, following his version of Ray Price’s country song “Crazy Arms,” which wasn’t even on it. This music is the first of Lewis’s 4 Top 40 hits, which occurred in the space of about a year and a half. Despite only 4 hits and bad fame, Lewis was so revered as a rock pioneer that he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Popularity first class.
Radio stations found all sorts of reasons not to play that track: it was pretty suggestive, he cursed it (“We-e-ll-a” sounded like “We-hella”), it sounded black (most stations did not) t). t play songs by black artists). This music was written by Roy Hall (under the pseudonym of Sunny David) and Dave “Curly” Williams.
Hall and Williams (a black musician) wrote this music in 1954 while fishing Lake Okeechobee in Florida. After Hall blurts out, “What’s going on?” heard someone mention “We own 21 drums, we own an old bass horn, and they even carry time in a ding-dong”, which became the music’s original opening line.
Webb Pierce helped Hall secure a recording contract with Decca, and in 1955 Hall recorded this song for the label. In 1954 Hall hired Jerry Lee Lewis to play at his club, and once the time came for Lewis to record his second single, he took on Hall’s tune and made him a rock staple.
Hall mentioned he had to cede the music royalties to his ex-wife and spent his final years performing in Nashville. After Roy Hall recorded this track and before Lewis did, variations were recorded by Big Maybelle, The Commodores (no interaction with 1970s Motown band) and Dolores Frederick.