Bill Doggett – Honky Tonk Popcorn

Download or Listen to Bill Doggett – Honky Tonk Popcorn from the King 45

I hope everyone was excited as I was to get an e mail from the one and only Dick Hyman here in the Flea Market Funk mailbox. He isn’t the first to do so, and I’m hoping to get some great info from members of the Reggie Sadler Revue among others. Stay tuned for that. For now, I’m gonna get to a record that I have had a hard time finding in the field. I managed to dig up the original on several occasions, but never saw this in the crates, unfortunately. When I saw a VG copy show up on a set sale list, well I had to jump quick and get it. Here’s Bill Doggett and “Honky Tonk Popcorn” on King Records from 1969.

William Ballard Dogget aka Bill Doggett was born in Philadelphia, PA in 1916. The son of a church pianist, Doggett originally wanted to play the trumpet. His family couldn’t afford one, and since his mother played piano in the church, he switched over to that. Heralded as a child prodigy at 13, by 15 he had his own band the Five Majors. Moving on to the Jimmy Gorman Orchestra, he would eventually become the band leader with the orchestra. It was very short lived, as financial burdens came calling. He sold it to Lucky Millender, then went on to join him as a player. From here he joined the Ink Spots (my grandfather’s favorite band by far), before going on the back musicians such as Ella Fitzgerald, Johnny Otis, and Lionel Hampton among others on piano. He cut his teeth for real on the live circuit with Louis Jordan, recording such classics as “Saturday Night Fish Fry” and “Blue Light Boogie”. This was around 1949 or so. In the early 50’s he formed another combo and switched over to King Records. His swinging sound produced a number of sides for the Cincinatti label. However, it wasn’t until 1956 when he released “Honky Tonk”, that he would find luck. The side sold over 4 million copies. His follow up records “Leaps and Bounds” and “Slow Walk” touched upon lighter Jazz and R & B, but were not even close success wise. He stayed with King Records until 1960, and went on to record for Sue, Warner Brothers, Columbia, and ABC Paramount. His popularity (and success of Honky Tonk) helped him get on the festival circuit, a place where he played until his death after a heart attack in 1996.

Honky Tonk Popcorn is a reworking of Doggett’s classic by the Godfather of Soul. Don’t get it twisted people, the old one is ok, but this reworking is THE BOMB. It’s heavy, has plenty of Hammond, and when James breaks it down to scream a bit, all hell breaks loose. By the time this record was out, Doggett was in his his sixties, still killing it. This is by far the funkiest cut the man ever put out in his career, and with help from James Brown and company, this 45 rates high on the FMF scale. Even if you didn’t know it was Doggett, it has the signature JB production, the heavy, heavy, drums, and of course the JB style. Go grab yourself a copy kids, because this one is never going to get old. Most notably, the Beatnuts copped this sample for “Are You Ready?” And why wouldn’t they, this side is red hot. I’ll see you Friday. Keep Diggin’!

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