Tweedlee Dee

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"Tweedle Dee" by LaVern Baker
For the Alice Through the Looking Glass Character, see Tweedledum and Tweedledee.

"Tweedlee Dee" (also "Tweedly Dee" or "Tweedle Dee") is a rhythm and blues novelty song with a Latin-influenced riff written by Winfield Scott[1] for LaVern Baker and recorded by her at Atlantic Records' studio in New York City in 1954. It was her first hit,[2] reaching #4 on Billboard's R&B chart and #14 on its Pop chart. It was also Winfield Scott's first successful song.[3]

The arrangement and vocal style of the song was an attempt to adapt the black vocal style to one that would satisfy the tastes of the white record-buying market, featuring a light tone and a frisky rhythm beat.

Cover version[edit]

Although Baker had closely approached a pop style in this recording, a cover of the song was quickly recorded by Georgia Gibbs on the Mercury Records label. Because a major label like Mercury had a superior distribution system, Atlantic's independent label could not compete. The white cover version used not only the lyrics but closely imitated the style and arrangement of the original and became a Gold Record for Gibbs, thus ruining any chance of Baker's recording becoming a pop hit.[4]

It was common at that time for major record companies to cover R&B hits generally appealing to blacks with their own more polished arrangements aimed at the wider white audience, a practice not forbidden by United States copyright law. According to Atlantic's engineer, Tom Dowd, Mercury hired the same arranger, the same musicians and tried to hire the same engineer.[2]

Baker attempted to get her congressman to introduce legislation to prevent the copying of arrangements but was unsuccessful.[5]

Numerous performances of the song have been released by artists ranging from Elvis Presley (a 1955 live performance first released commercially in the 1980s), Teresa Brewer also in 1955, Ike & Tina Turner, Alma Cogan and Little Jimmy Osmond to Bill Haley & His Comets (recorded in 1979 for Haley's final album, Everyone Can Rock and Roll). Presley also recorded a number of Scott's compositions in the 1960s. The Crests recorded a cover version for their 1960 album The Crests Sing All Biggies.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Interview with Winfield Scott". www.elvis.com.au. Retrieved 2006-11-20. 
  2. ^ a b Jim Dawson, & Steve Propes (1992). What Was the First Rock'n'Roll Record. Boston & London: Faber & Faber. pp. 164–169. ISBN 0-571-12939-0. 
  3. ^ "Winfield Scott". Retrieved 2006-11-13. 
  4. ^ Shaw, Arnold (1978). Honkers and Shouters. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company. pp. 174–176. ISBN 0-02-061740-2. 
  5. ^ Elijah Wald, How The Beatles Destroyed Rock'n'Roll, 2009, pp.176-177