See You Later, Alligator
|"See You Later, Alligator"|
|Single by Bill Haley & His Comets|
|Released||February 1, 1956|
|Recorded||December 12, 1955|
|Genre||Rock and Roll|
"See You Later, Alligator" is the title of an iconic rock and roll song of the 1950s written and first recorded by Robert Charles Guidry, known as Bobby Charles. The song was a Top Ten hit for Bill Haley and the Comets in 1956 in the U.S.
Originally entitled "Later Alligator", the song, based on a 12-bar blues chord structure (141541), was written by Louisiana songwriter Robert Charles Guidry and first recorded by him under his professional name "Bobby Charles" in 1955. His recording was released on Chess Records under the title "Later Alligator" as 1609 in November, 1955 backed with "On Bended Knee". Guidry, a Cajun musician, adopted a New Orleans-influenced blues style for the recording. The melody of the song was borrowed from bluesman Guitar Slim's "Later for You Baby" which was recorded in 1954. Guidry also wrote "Walking to New Orleans", which was recorded by Fats Domino.
Bill Haley Recording
The most famous recording of the song, however, was that created on December 12, 1955 by Bill Haley & His Comets at a recording session for Decca Records. Unlike most of Haley's recordings for Decca, which were created at the Pythian Temple studio in New York City, "Alligator" and its flip-side, "The Paper Boy (On Main Street U.S.A.)", were recorded at the Decca Building in New York. The song was featured in Rock Around the Clock, a musical film Haley and the Comets began shooting in January 1956. Regarding the claim that Decca records released this disk on February 1, 1956 in both 45 and 78 formats, Billboard had already listed the song as debuting on 14 January 1956 on the Best Sellers in Stores chart at #25 and on the Top 100 at #56. The Decca single peaked at no. 6 on the Billboard and CashBox pop singles chart in 1956.
Haley's arrangement of the song is faster-paced than Guidry's original, and in particular the addition of a two-four beat changed the song from a rhythm and blues "shuffle" to rock and roll. The song also has a more light-hearted beat than the original, starting out with a high-pitched, childlike voice (belonging to Haley's lead guitarist, Franny Beecher) reciting the title of the song. The ending of the song was virtually identical to the conclusion of Haley's earlier hit, "Shake, Rattle and Roll".
Bill Haley's recording of "See You Later, Alligator" popularized a catchphrase already in use at the time, and Princess Margaret of the United Kingdom was quoted as saying it (this is related in a biography of the Princess published in the early 1960s). It would become Haley's third and final million-selling single, although it did not hit the top of the American charts.
Haley and the Comets re-recorded the song several more times: in 1964 for Guest Star Records, a drastically rearranged version for Mexico's Orfeon Records in 1966, and once more in 1968 for Sweden's Sonet Records. It was also a staple of the band's live act. Several post-Haley incarnations of The Comets have also recorded versions of the song. Guidry, under his Bobby Charles pseudonym, re-recorded the song in the 1990s.
On Broadway, "See You Later Alligator" was sung by Robert Britton Lyons, portraying Carl Perkins, in the musical Million Dollar Quartet, which opened in New York in April, 2010. Robert Britton Lyons also covered the song in the Million Dollar Quartet original Broadway cast recording (copyright 2010 by MDQ Merchandising, LLC).
Dr. Feelgood also recorded a version based on this original in 1986. The song was also recorded by Roy Hall and Otto Bash in 1956. Wayne Gibson with the Dynamic Sounds featuring Jimmy Page on lead guitar released the song as a single in August, 1964. Freddie and the Dreamers also recorded the song in 1964. Sha Na Na recorded the song for their syndicated TV show in 1978. Mud, The Shakers, Orion, Millie Small, James Last, Col Joye & The Joy Boys, Rood Adeo & Nighthawks at the Diner, Rock House, Horst Jankowski, and Johnny Earle have also recorded the song. 
In 1967, Bob Dylan and The Band recorded a parody of the song entitled "See You Later, Allen Ginsberg," which will be released on The Bootleg Series Vol. 11: The Basement Tapes Complete in November 2014.
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- According to John Swenson's book Bill Haley and the biography Sound and Glory by John W. Haley and John von Hoelle, Haley's December 1955 recording session of "See You Later Alligator" coincided with a major change in his recording practises. Up until this point, it had been policy for Haley to use a session musician to play drums on recording sessions (usually Billy Gussak but also Cliff Leeman and David "Panama" Francis although this last musician is disputed); this despite his hiring of talented and popular drummers to perform on stage with the Comets. In the fall of 1955, Haley hired Ralph Jones as his stage drummer but continued to use session musicians on record; according to Swenson and Haley/von Hoelle, Jones successfully lobbied to be also allowed to record with the group on "See You Later Alligator" and the practise of using session drummers was dropped thereafter (though Haley would return to it in the 1970s).
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