"My Bucket's Got a Hole in It" is a song widely attributed to Clarence Williams who obtained a copyright of this old, rural folk ditty in 1933. The song became popular performed by Hank Williams for MGM and reached #4 on the country chart in 1949. However, a rendering (1927) by Tom Gates and his Orchestra (on Gennett 6184) as "The Bucket's Got A Hole In It" gives credit to musicians Lee Blevins and Victor Sells as authors. This version predates the C. Williams copyright. Hank Williams "could have been given this ditty to record, [but] he may have been familiar with this ditty from previous recordings or had heard it while growing up in Alabama." The original melody evolved from the second theme of "Long Lost Blues" published in 1914 by J. Paul Wyer and H. Alf Kelley. The "Long Lost Blues" theme was a variation of "Bucket's Got a Hole in It", a motif that appears in several versions of "Keep A-Knockin". This tune later became the basis for several versions of the song, "You Can't Come In" recorded by multiple artists. However, "Bucket's Got a Hole in It" has also been attributed to Buddy Bolden, which would date it before 1906.
Tom Gates and his Orchestra performed the earliest known recording of this song on July 25, 1927 (Gennett 6198-A Champion 15307) in St. Paul, Minnesota as "The Bucket's Got a Hole in It." Band members included the composers, Lee N. Blevins on trombone and Victor Sells on trumpet. Also playing were Earl Clark, Frank Cloustier (Piano, Director), Bob Gates, Tom Gates, Tracy "Pug" Mama, Nevin Simmons (Alto Sax/Vocals), and Harold Stoddard. Even in this early recording, the melody had already been used by the New Orleans Rhythm Kings in their She's Crying For Me Blues ('25 - Victor), also by Louis Dumaine's Jazzola Eight in '27 as To-Wa-Bac-A-Wa-Yale Blues.
Washboard Sam, aka Robert Brown, released a version of this song on Bluebird B-7906 known as "Bucket's Got A Hole In It." This recording was made in 1937 as one of "several historic blues recording sessions [that] took place on the top floor of the Leland Hotel located in downtown Aurora, Illinois. Lester Melrose, a freelance A&R man, and record producer, put together those recording sessions for the Bluebird label. Melrose brought together a small group of artists from St. Louis, and some of Chicago’s finest blues artists of the time, and over the course of the next 20 months, recorded over 300 tracks." Featured in this series of recordings are the performers Tampa Red, Washboard Sam, Big Bill Broonzy, Walter Davis, John Lee “Sonny Boy” Williamson, Big Joe Williams, Henry Townsend, Robert Lee McCoy, Speckled Red, Merlene Johnson, Addie “Sweet Peas” Spivey, Bill “Jazz” Gillum and One Arm Slim, amongst many others.