This rock and roll has gotta stop, Junior's head's as hard as rock
September 30, 2009 7:23 PM   Subscribe

Larry Williams is not as famous as many of his contemporaries, but was responsible for a long string of hits beginning with Short Fat Fannie in 1957. He continued to produce such rock and roll staples as Slow Down, Bony Moronie, and She Said Yeah. His songs are probably better known today through other artists' interpretations of his songs. Williams' songs have been covered by: The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, The Replacements, The Beatles, Johnny Winter, The Who, The Plastic Ono Band, Paul McCartney, and The Jam. Also Sha Na Na. And every garage band in the world.

Williams was involved in underworld activity before and during his musical career. A 1960 narcotics trafficking conviction did not help his career and in 1977 he tried to shoot Little Richard. Williams died of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound in 1980.

Short article on Larry Williams and The Beatles.

Wikipedia page.
posted by marxchivist (14 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Seriously, nothing beats Sha Na Na. Seriously.
posted by oddman at 7:32 PM on September 30, 2009

Never heard the original 'til just now. Thanks. Awesome.
posted by Ike_Arumba at 7:44 PM on September 30, 2009

Yeah, here's a guy who'd successfully avoided my radar until this post. Many thanks, marxchivist!

He tried to SHOOT Little Richard? Holy shit!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:20 PM on September 30, 2009

According the the Wikipedia article: "In 1977, Little Richard narrowly escaped being shot by his long-time friend, Williams, over a drug debt. Williams was furious but ended up showing compassion toward his old friend by letting him go.[4] This, along with other factors, led to Richard's return to born again Christianity and the ministry."

In the mid-1960's Williams did some songs with Johnny "Guitar" Watson. Here's a nice version of Mercy, Mercy, Mercy.

A couple more cuts by that duo.
posted by marxchivist at 9:08 PM on September 30, 2009

Williams shows up on John Lennons' jukebox more than most, as does Little Richard. I wonder what Lennon had to say about one of his musical heroes trying to shoot another?
posted by pracowity at 10:25 PM on September 30, 2009

Williams & Watson's "Too Late" is just an amazing blast of furious Northern Soul. Can never hear it enough (along with the entire album)

Also worth checking out is the single Williams & Watson did with LA world psychedelic kings Kaleidoscope.
posted by quartzcity at 11:09 PM on September 30, 2009

Larry and Johnny Previously
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:01 AM on October 1, 2009

Bony Moronie was one of may favorites as a kid. My dad would play it on his jukebox.
posted by DaddyNewt at 12:03 AM on October 1, 2009

I think he ties with Carl Perkins as the only songwriter to have three of his songs covered by the Beatles (if you leave out bootleg recordings).
posted by jonp72 at 7:17 AM on October 1, 2009

Wikipedia cites the Beatles recording three Chuck Berry songs, but I can only think of two: Roll Over Beethoven and Rock and Roll Music.

If you count the BBC Sessions, Berry might the winner since on there we also have Too Much Monkey Business and Sweet Little Sixteen.

But I believe for the purposes of this discussion we're talking about studio albums the Beatles themselves actually released.
posted by marxchivist at 7:55 AM on October 1, 2009

I always get a kick when I look at that cover of Two For The Price of One. And I still miss Johnny Guitar Watson.
posted by y2karl at 9:49 AM on October 1, 2009

Wikipedia cites the Beatles recording three Chuck Berry songs

On their list of songs covered by The Beatles they include "Johnny B. Goode" from the Live at the BBC album, but it has eight Chuck Berry songs: "Too Much Monkey Business," "Carol," "Johnny B. Goode," "Memphis, Tennessee," "Roll Over Beethoven," "Sweet Little Sixteen," "Rock and Roll Music," and "I Got to Find My Baby." They also did Berry's "I'm Talking About You," but it was left off the CD because the sound was subpar. If you count Live at the BBC, Perkins is probably #2 after Berry, since it has four Carl Perkins songs and another Perkins song was left off the CD.

I agree that we should only include their studio albums (plus singles and EPs with non-album tracks).

Chuck Berry's music publisher, Morris Levy, sued Lennon for copyright infringement because "Come Together" nicked a line from Berry's "You Can't Catch Me." (Pretty sketchy since the songs are completely different, but Lennon settled out of court.)
posted by kirkaracha at 1:09 PM on October 1, 2009

Tragically, those times were tough on a lot of musicians. Heard the songs since forever, didn't know the story... certainly never knew of any video. Thanks, Marxchivest.

Here's a thorough Williams discography. Over at AMazon, Aj in Australia recommends (for quality) the UK Ace CD "The Bad Boy Of Rock'n'Roll" (CDCHD 709) and/or the 47 track 2CD set on Ace - "Larry Williams At His Finest" (CDCHD2 1021)

Unrelated- I just found, yesterday, some Left Banke on youtube. Good to see the people you dig & ain't seen showing up ... never too late.
posted by Twang at 12:51 AM on October 2, 2009

Wow, I remember I had a Rush bootleg from 1974 when I was a kid. They played Bad Boy.
posted by not_on_display at 2:31 PM on October 3, 2009

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