Keep A-Knockin'

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"Keep A-Knockin'"
Single by Little Richard
B-side "Can't Believe You Wanna Leave"
Released 1957
Format 7"
Recorded 1957
Label Specialty Records
Writer(s) Perry Bradford or Penniman/Williams/Bert Mays?
Little Richard singles chronology
"Jenny, Jenny"
"Keep A-Knockin'"
"Maybe I'm Right"

"Keep A-Knockin' (but You Can't Come In)" is a popular song from the late 1920s, possibly written by Perry Bradford. Variations were recorded by James "Boodle It" Wiggins in 1928, Lil Johnson in 1935,[1] Milton Brown in 1936 and Louis Jordan in 1939.[2] (According to Rolling Stone,[3] Jordan had gotten it from James Wiggins and Kokomo Arnold.)

An answer song titled "I Hear You Knocking," written by Dave Bartholomew and Pearl King, having a similar melody but slower tempo, was published in 1955 and first recorded by Smiley Lewis, reaching #2 on the Billboard R&B singles chart. It became a more mainstream #2 hit when sung by Gale Storm that same year.[4]

The most well-known rendition of the song is the rhythm and blues/rock and roll recording by Little Richard[5] in September 1957, which reached #2 on the U.S. R&B charts and #8 on the U.S. pop charts. Rolling Stone magazine later ranked this version in their Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list, placing it at #442.[6]

The song, an eight-bar blues, concerns a lover at the door who won't be admitted, in some versions because someone else is already there but in most others because the knocking lover has behaved badly. A similar lyrical theme appears in "Open the Door, Richard," but from the viewpoint of the one knocking.

The song "Somethin' Else" recorded by Eddie Cochran and written by his brother Bob Cochran and Sharon Sheeley, was recorded with a drum beat identical to "Keep A-Knockin'". Cochran was a huge fan of Little Richard.[7] The drums were played by Earl Palmer on the session.

The drum introduction played by Charles Connor on the Little Richard recording inspired the drum introduction John Bonham played for the song "Rock and Roll" by Led Zeppelin, recorded in their album Led Zeppelin IV.

Little Richard played the song on an episode of Full House. He recorded a version of the song with different lyrics as an introduction for the NBC show Friday Night Videos. The song was also featured in the theatrical trailer for Home Alone.

Cover versions after Little Richard[edit]


  1. ^ Blueslyrics
  2. ^ Louis Jordan
  3. ^ Rolling Stone
  4. ^ Amazon
  5. ^ Little Richard interviewed on the Pop Chronicles (1969)
  6. ^ Mixlyrics
  7. ^ Cochran, Bobby (2003). Three Steps to Heaven: The Eddie Cochran Story (1st ed.). Milwaukee: Hal Leonard. p. 145. ISBN 0-634-03252-6. 

External links[edit]