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 and Dorothy Collins 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