Ian Hunter – Cleveland Rocks

England Rocks was released in 1977 as the A Side of a single put out on the CBS label by Ian Hunter’s album Overnight Angels backed by the B side Wild N’ Free.

The same song with amended words was released in 1979 as Cleveland Rocks, and became a well known song for Hunter.

Ian Hunter had a great band behind him on this song. Mick Ronson on guitar, and the E Street Band’s Gary Tallent on bass, Roy Bittan on keyboards and Max Weinberg on drums.

The song was off of the brilliantly named album You’re Never Alone with a Schizophrenic and it peaked at #35 in the Billboard 100 and #49 in the UK in 1979.

 The song was extremely popular in Cleveland, and on June 19, 1979, Hunter was given the Key to the City by the Mayor.

Hunter’s original recording of Cleveland Rocks begins with a sample of Alan Freed introducing his show. The song was covered in 1997 by The Presidents of the United States of America as the opening theme of the television program The Drew Carey Show

Ian Hunter: “I was watching TV one night when this comedian starts making fun of Cleveland… Cleveland had the coolest rock fans in the country — I wrote ‘Cleveland Rocks’ for them, because they were always so great to me.

Cleveland was the first city in America to embrace Mott the Hoople… The East and West coasts had their heads up their [expletive], but Cleveland was hip to us and Roxy Music and David Bowie right away.”

Ian Hunter: ‘I originally wrote “Cleveland Rocks” for Cleveland. I changed it later to “England Rocks” because I thought it should be a single somewhere and Columbia wouldn’t release it as a single in the US (too regional). “Cleveland Rocks” is Cleveland’s song and that’s the truth.’

From Songfacts

From 1995 to 2004, American comedian Drew Carey starred in The Drew Carey Show, a situation comedy based in Cleveland, Ohio. Instead of an original theme song, Carey used “Cleveland Rocks,” an anthem to the City which was written in the 1970s. By an Englishman.

In a June 2007 interview on The Late Late Show, host Craig Ferguson asked that Englishman, Ian Hunter, if he’d ever lived in Cleveland. Hunter didn’t answer the question directly, but it is common knowledge that after splitting with Mott The Hoople he moved to New York, basing his second solo album around that move.

Alluding to his touring with Mott, Hunter said “They didn’t really like us on the coast much”; by us he meant not just Mott The Hoople but the whole glam rock scene referring in particular to David Bowie and Roxy Music. But “When we went to Cleveland, that was the first time we sold a club out.” He added “Cleveland was kind of like the Poland of America” but he and the rest of the glam rock crowd thought they were cool, and as Cleveland thought they were too, he in turn thought Cleveland was the coolest place.

Hunter’s original version runs to 3 minutes 48 seconds and appears on the album You’re Never Alone With A Schizophrenic; it was produced by him and Mick Ronson. The album was released on Chrysalis, March 27, 1979.

What Hunter didn’t mention on The Late Late Show is that the song was released originally – with slightly different words – as “England Rocks.”

As Hunter toured the States with Mott in the early ’70s, his claim has the ring of truth. Indeed, he has never made any secret of looking back to what he sees as the golden age of rock ‘n’ roll, and rock ‘n’ roll can in some sense be said to have originated in Cleveland. The disk jockey Alan Freed (1921-65) was born in at Johnstown, Pennsylvania less than two hundred miles from Cleveland, and moved to the City in 1949 where in 1951 he began playing rhythm and blues records on his WJW radio show The Moondog House. Freed became known as the father of rock and roll, because although he did not invent the phrase, he appears to have been the first person to use it on public radio.

In April 1983, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation was founded in New York City, and in 1995, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum opened its doors in downtown Cleveland. After his death, Alan Freed was cremated, and his ashes were interred at the Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York, but in March 2002 they were moved to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The later Drew Carey version was recorded by the Presidents Of The United States Of America.

Cleveland Rocks

All this energy callin’ me
Back where it comes from
It’s such a crude attitude
It’s back where it belongs

All the little kids goin’ up on the skits go
Cleveland rocks! Cleveland rocks!
Jumpin’ Jane Jean, and moonin’ James Dean go
Cleveland rocks! Cleveland rocks!
Cleveland rocks! Cleveland rocks!
Cleveland rocks! Cleveland rocks!
Cleveland rocks! Cleveland rocks!

Momma knows, but she don’t care,she’s got her worries too
Seven kids, and a phony affair, and the rent is due

All the little chicks with the crimson lips go
Cleveland rocks! Cleveland rocks!
Livin’ in sin with a safety pin goin’
Cleveland rocks! Cleveland rocks!
Cleveland rocks! Cleveland rocks!
Cleveland rocks! Cleveland rocks!
Cleveland rocks! Cleveland rocks!

I got some records from World War II
I play ’em just like me grand dad do

He was a rocker, and I am too
Now Cleveland rocks, Now Cleveland rocks
Cleveland rocks! Cleveland rocks!
Cleveland rocks! Cleveland rocks!
Cleveland rocks! Cleveland rocks!
Cleveland rocks! Cleveland rocks!
Cleveland rocks! Cleveland rocks!
Cleveland rocks! Cleveland rocks!
Cleveland rocks! Cleveland rocks!
Cleveland rocks! Cleveland rocks!
Cleveland rocks! Cleveland rocks!
Cleveland rocks!
OHIO

Author: badfinger20 (Max)

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

21 thoughts on “Ian Hunter – Cleveland Rocks”

  1. I love this song and album! I was so blessed to see Ian and Mick Ronson play The Fast Lane in Asbury Park in support of it. Some E Streeters also took the stage with him to reprise a few songs together form the record.

    BTW – in listening to the “Cleveland” version, my ears often here him singing “England” I wonder.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You were in a great place to watch some wonderful concerts.
      I know…Ian claims that he wrote Cleveland first but…

      Like

  2. Mott The Hoople were fabulous, anyone who’s not heard All The Young Dudes (Bowie’s song, background vocal and production), Roll Away The Stone, All The Way from Memphis, Honaloochi Boogie (yes, Hunter was using US names before Cleveland) is missing out!

    I also enjoyed the Drew Carey Show & his revamp of Whose Line Is It Anyway (still do). Shame his star has declined since then, he even had a sound-attraction show at Orlando Disney MGM (Hollywood) Studios in his heyday…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve always liked the Mott. The song that first got my attention is a little known song by Hunter in the 80s called “All The Good Ones Are Taken”…from there I became an Ian Hunter fan…I knew the hits from Mott the Hoople.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I didn’t know the tv show one wasn’t the original… I hear one on radio quite a bit but not sure which one. Nice tribute to the city but really not a song I love that much.

    Liked by 1 person

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