Rockin' Pneumonia & the Boogie Woogie Flu: One of Rock & Roll Hall of Fame 500 Songs that Shaped Rock & Roll

Rockin' Pneumonia & the Boogie Woogie Flu
Single: Huey "Piano" Smith
Released: August 1957
Genre: Rock and roll
Songwriters: Johnny Vincent, Huey Smith

Huey Pierce Smith, known as Huey "Piano" Smith, was influential in the development of rock and roll. His piano playing combined boogie-woogie and jazz with rhythm and blues. In 1957, he released "Rockin' Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu."

The song peaked in the US at Number 5 on the Most Played R&B by Jockeys and Number 52 on Billboard's Hot 100. It's sold over one million copies and numbers among the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock & Roll.

Huey "Piano" Smith (1957)

At the peak of his game, Smith epitomized New Orleans R&B. Steve Huey of AllMusic

Huey Smith, born in New Orleans in 1934, began playing the piano at age 15. When he turned 18, Smith signed with Savoy Records. His first known single was "You Made Me Cry." In 1956, Smith recorded a song with his Rhythm Aces for Ace Records. The A-side was "Little Liza Jane," backed with "Everybody's Whalin'."  In 1957, he formed Huey "Piano" Smith and His Clowns. They released "Rockin' Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu Part 1" with  "Part 2" as the instrumental B-side

 Johnny Rivers (1972)

Rockin' Pneumonia - Boogie Woogie Flu
Single: Johnny Rivers
Album: LA Reggae
B-side: Come Home America
Released: September 1972
Genre: Blues-rock, electric blues
Songwriters:  Johnny Vincent, Huey Smith

Johnny Rivers was born in New York City, but his family moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He began playing guitar at age eight. He formed a band and made his first record at Baton Rouge High School. Bruce Elder of Allmusic writes: 

"Rivers was very much a kindred spirit to figures like Buddy Holly and Ronnie Hawkins, with all of the verve and spirit of members of that first wave of rock & rollers. However, he had the misfortune of having been born a little too late to catch that wave and took until the middle of the next decade to find his audience."

Johnny Rivers
Johnny Rivers

Johnny Rivers charted a string of US Billboard hits with covers in the 1960s and 1970s. Chuck Berry's "Memphis," the Four Tops' "Baby I Need Your Lovin'," and the Miracles' "The Tracks of My Tears" were among them. Rivers recorded  Smith's "Rockin' Pneumonia" with some LA Wrecking Crew session musicians. It reached Number 6 on Billboard's Hot 100, Rivers' fifth highest showing, and spent 19 weeks on the chart. It was his third and last Gold record for the next five years until 1977's "Swayin' to the Music (Slow Dancing)." 

Deep Purple (2021)

Many artists have recorded a version of "Rockin' Pneumonia." The Crickets included a cover on their 1960 album, In Style with the CricketsGrateful Dead performed "Rockin' Pneumonia" on their Europe '72 tour at the Strand Lyceum London, England. Professor Longhair taped a version in 1974, but it wasn't released until his 1977 album Rock 'n Roll Gumbo

Deep Purple 2021 album Turning to Crime

Aerosmith contributed a version of the song for the soundtrack to the 1987 movie Less than Zero. At the suggestion of their producer Bob EzrinDeep Purple's 2021 Turning to Crime album is composed entirely of covers. One of those is Smith's "Rockin' Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu."


Popular posts from this blog

The Goldcoast Singers: Plastic Jesus (1962)

Rebel Rebel: David Bowie (1974)

Elton John: Two of Rock & Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock & Roll