Little Richard – Long Tall Sally

I first heard this through the Beatles, but nobody beats Little Richard (Richard Penniman) for this kind of raving song. The Beatles played on the same bill with Richard in Hamburg and Liverpool before they were nationally known. They got to know Billy Preston because he was Richard’s keyboard player.

20 Little Richard covers by The Beatles, Elton John, Clapton, Kinks, CCR,  Queen & more

My dad told me about Little Richard before I ever heard him. He said he had the largest voice he ever heard. He talked about a song called Long Tall Sally. I first heard it…it blew me away. Such a raw emotional power in that voice. He would take us to the edge of the cliff and then at the last-minute pull us back.

So was there a real Long Tall Sally? Yes, there was but she was not a cross-dresser as sometimes reported. Little Richard has said that Sally was a friend of the family who was always drinking whiskey…she would claim to have a cold and would drink hot toddies all day.

He described her as tall and not attractive, with just two teeth and cockeyed. She was having an affair with John, who was married to Mary, who they called “Short Fat Fanny.” John and Mary would get in fights on the weekends, and when he saw her coming, he would duck back into a little alley to avoid her. His voice was one of a kind…and I mean one of a kind. He could sing anything. Richard wrote this while working as a dishwasher at a Greyhound bus station in Macon, Georgia. He also wrote Tutti Frutti and Good Golly Miss Molly while working there. He had help with the song…Enotris Johnson and Robert Blackwell are also listed as the writers.

Long Tall Sally peaked at #6 in the Hot 100 and #1 in the R&B Charts in 1956.

Richard’s producer, Bumps Blackwell, had him record the vocal exceptionally fast in an effort to thwart Pat Boone. Boone’s version of “Tutti Frutti” sold better than Little Richard’s, so Blackwell tried to make it very difficult for Boone to copy. He had Richard work on the line “duck back down the alley” over and over until he could sing it very fast. He figured Boone could never match Richard’s vocal dexterity.

As much as I don’t like Pat Boone’s covers of Little Richards songs…they did help Richard get royalties as the writer.

Long Tall Sally

Gonna tell Aunt Mary ’bout Uncle John
He claim he has the misery but he’s havin’ a lot of fun
Oh baby, yeah baby, woo
Havin’ me some fun tonight, yeah

Well long, tall Sally
She’s built for speed, she got
Everything that Uncle John need, oh baby
Yeah baby, woo baby
Havin’ me some fun tonight, yeah

Well, I saw Uncle John with long tall Sally
He saw Aunt Mary comin’ and he ducked back in the alley oh baby
Yeah baby, woo baby
Havin’ me some fun tonight, yeah, ow

Well, long, tall Sally
She’s built for speed, she got
Everything that Uncle John need, oh baby
Yeah baby, woo baby
Havin’ me some fun tonight, yeah

Well, I saw Uncle John with bald-head Sally
He saw Aunt Mary comin’ and he ducked back in the alley, oh, baby
Yeah baby, woo, baby
Havin’ me some fun tonight, yeah

We gonna have some fun tonight
We gonna have some fun tonight, woo
Have some fun tonight, everything’s all right
Have some fun, have me some fun tonight

Author: Badfinger (Max)

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

37 thoughts on “Little Richard – Long Tall Sally”

  1. This just made my Friday, Max – hands-down one of the best classic rock & roll songs I can think of! As soon as it comes on, you have to move. You just can’t help it!

    Little Richard was the full package: Great songwriter, great voice, great piano player and a great show man. I can only imagine what kind of experience it must have been to see the man live. The name “little” is ironical. There was really nothing small about Little Richard!

    Starting from age eight or nine (while growing up in German), I frequently listened to the radio. One of my favorite shows was a 2-hour oldies program on Sunday evening. The DJ Frank Laufenberg is a well-known music expert, especially when it comes to oldies – to clarify, by that I mean the music of the ’50s and ’60s – kids nowadays probably say that about the ’80s or ’90s! 🙂

    Anyway, Laufenberg introduced me to many great artists, including Little Richard. As such, I’m fairly certain I heard the original of “Long Tall Sally” before I listened to the great cover by The Beatles. I think it’s one of their best classic rock & roll renditions. While I generally prefer John on lead vocals when it comes to rock & roll, Paul does a nice job on “Long Tall Sally.”

    This tune is gonna be stuck in my head now. But, hey, at least it’s a great song.

    Happy Friday!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Glad you liked it! The voice is so powerful…he could have covered any kind of music. His ballads sound good also.

      Paul did a great version of this I will admit. I think his Little Richard voice was a big part of John wanting him in the band. He could mimick him really well.

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  2. Tutti Frutti was originally written with these lyrics, “A wop bop a loo mop a good goddam, Tutti Frutti, good booty, if it don’t fit, don’t force it, you can grease it, make it easy”, and that had to be edited because they were too pornographic. Dorothy La Bostrie was brought in to clean up the lyrics resulting in “Bop bopa-a-lu a whop bam boo Tutti frutti, oh Rudy”.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. one of the real early rock pioneers… never knew the background to it at all though. Shocking…for that era,LOL. I guess Robert Palmer was a big fan…since one of his first albums was ‘Sneakin Sally Through the Alley’.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Whenever I see Pat Boone a smile happens. My father went to school with Pat Boone at some point and they got into this big fight over a girl. From all reports…my dad won.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I wish I would have asked him more about it while he was alive….familly members have filled me in. I knew whenever Boones name came up he let out some choice words.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. An uncle recently told me that…so it was confirmed…. he passed away tonight of Legionnaire’s disease while on vacation….I just found out a few hours ago. He was 92

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      3. Florida….no it can come from a lot of places. Hot Tubs, air conditioners…plus he was 92…he was in great shape for that age but no one else got sick. He was a good guy…wealthy but a really nice guy

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