Ram Jam – Black Betty

Love the guitar tone in this song but you cannot get it out of your head after one listen.

This is a traditional song that folk singer Leadbelly popularized before his death in 1949. He recorded a lot of songs that otherwise might have been lost, including “Goodnight Irene” and “Midnight Special.” Leadbelly’s version is a cappella and commonly sung by laborers to pass the time while working.

Ram Jam took some heat because some civil rights groups felt the lyrics were disrespectful.

This was Ram Jam’s only hit. The song peaked at #18 in the Billboard 100, #46 in Canada, #7 in the UK, and #8 in New Zealand in 1977.

A remix of “Black Betty” by Ben Liebrand reached number 13 in the UK Singles Chart in 1990. Cover versions of the song also appear on the 2002 album Mr. Jones by Tom Jones and on the 2004 album Tonight Alright by Australian rock band Spiderbait.


From Songfacts

Ram Jam was a short-lived band from New York City, and this was their only hit.  While the lyrics can be deconstructed, Ram Jam’s version is driven by the powerful beat and aggressive tempo, making it one of those songs that gets your heart beating faster. The song is commonly played at sporting events to pump up the crowd.

This was produced by Jerry Kasenetz and Jeff Katz, who were architects of the Bubblegum Sound, producing groups like The Ohio Express and the 1910 Fruitgum Company.

The Australian band Spiderbait recorded this in 2004. It was their first single to reach #1 on the Australian charts. 

A remixed version of this song is used in the 2002 movie Kung Pow: Enter The Fist when the main character fights the villain.

Black Betty

Whoa, Black Betty (Bam-ba-Lam)
Whoa, Black Betty (Bam-ba-Lam)

Black Betty had a child (Bam-ba-Lam)
The damn thing gone wild (Bam-ba-Lam)
She said, “I’m worryin’ outta mind” (Bam-ba-Lam)
The damn thing gone blind (Bam-ba-Lam)
I said “Oh, Black Betty” (Bam-ba-Lam)
Whoa, Black Betty (Bam-ba-Lam)

Oh, Black Betty (Bam-ba-Lam)
Whoa, Black Betty (Bam-ba-Lam)

She really gets me high (Bam-ba-Lam)
You know that’s no lie (Bam-ba-Lam)
She’s so rock steady (Bam-ba-Lam)
And she’s always ready (Bam-ba-Lam)
Whoa, Black Betty (Bam-ba-Lam)
Whoa, Black Betty (Bam-ba-Lam)

Whoa, Black Betty (Bam-ba-Lam)
Whoa, Black Betty (Bam-ba-Lam)

She’s from Birmingham (Bam-ba-Lam)
Way down in Alabam’ (Bam-ba-Lam)
Well, she’s shakin’ that thing (Bam-ba-Lam)
Boy, she makes me sing (Bam-ba-Lam)
Whoa, Black Betty (Bam-ba-Lam)
Whoa, Black Betty


Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

17 thoughts on “Ram Jam – Black Betty”

  1. Yeah, they really put the pop rock influence to it. It didn’t know that they were produced by Kasenetz and Katz but it makes sense. I think the production made this version a hit with the AOR crowd. Just a feeling I have. Today, this wouldn’t fly–especially since it’s produced by white artists. And I get it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The production sounds so big and it’s tight…yea that helped a lot . It is an ear worm also. All I had to do was write about it…not listen to it…and it’s in my head now.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh man what a tune and it’s still played on the radio. I’m surprised at the chart showing as I thought the song would have went higher but goes to show as the song has longevity that’s for sure!

    Liked by 1 person

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