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Huey 'Piano' Smith and his Clowns

Don't You Just Know It

Our 1957 volume contained Huey’s irrepressible breakthrough hit Rockin’ Pneumonia And The Boogie Woogie Flu. Talking to 'Billboard' in 1959, Ace Records owner Johnny Vincent recalled that, when Smith broke, Ace was “operating out of my house and my pocket. We had our records pressed by Plastic Products up in Memphis. They had a truck that would go out with records, so I went up to Memphis and hitch-hiked a ride on that truck to the MOA [Music Operators of America] Convention in Chicago.

We kicked the record off up there. Then we came with ‘Don’t You Just Know It.’ We figured that after one big hit, the second would be a natural but all of a sudden we were sitting with 80,000 pressings in Memphis, and man I thought I was gonna have to eat them. Finally Dick Clark got hold of the record and started playing it. That’s what did it. He broke it for us.”  When Don’t You Just Know It began to break in the early weeks of 1958, Vincent was offered up to $25,000 for the master by the vampiric quasi-major labels, ABC-Paramount and Mercury. According to Vincent, it was selling up to 75,000 copies a week by March.

“I don’t need to sell masters to make money,”  Vincent said at the time. “I make out pretty well selling records. I just quit takin’ offers.” The lead vocalist on this record, as on Rockin’ Pneumonia, was Bobby Marchan, a cross-dresser who had initially fooled Vincent into believing that he was a woman. The real female vocalist is Gerri Hall, who would work with Smith and the Clowns for years. Years later, Hall told John Broven that the Clowns’ bus driver, Rudy Ray Moore, was always saying, “Don’t you know it, honey, don’t you just know it,” and that the Clowns wrote the remainder of the lyrics while traveling between Baltimore and Washington, DC. Coincidentally or not, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins claimed that Smith stole Don’t You Just Know It after seeing him perform it in Baltimore.

After spending some time on the road, Smith soon realized that people assumed the lead singer was Huey Smith, so he hired James Booker to play piano and let Marchan lead the road band, while he stayed in New Orleans.


Various - Blowing The Fuse 1958 - Classics That Rocked The Jukebox

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