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Back Door Man

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"Back Door Man"
Back Door Man single cover.jpg
Single by Howlin' Wolf
A-side"Wang Dang Doodle"
Released1961 (1961)
RecordedJune 1960
StudioChess, Chicago
Songwriter(s)Willie Dixon
Producer(s)Leonard Chess, Phil Chess, Willie Dixon
Howlin' Wolf singles chronology
"Back Door Man"
"Down in the Bottom"

"Back Door Man" is a blues song written by Willie Dixon and recorded by Howlin' Wolf in 1960. It was released in 1961 by Chess Records as the B-side to Wolf's "Wang Dang Doodle".[1] The song is considered a classic of Chicago blues.


In Southern culture, the phrase "back-door man" refers to a man having an affair with a married woman, using the back door as an exit before the husband comes home.[2] "When everybody trying to sleep, I'm somewhere making my midnight creep / Every morning the rooster crow, something tell me I got to go / I am a back door man," Wolf sings. The promiscuous "back-door man" is a theme of many blues songs, including those by Charley Patton, Lightnin' Hopkins, Blind Willie McTell and Sara Martin: "every sensible woman got a back-door man," Martin sang in "Strange Loving Blues" (1925).[3]

Recording and releases

"Back Door Man" was recorded in Chicago in June 1960. Accompanying Howlin' Wolf on vocals is Otis Spann on piano, Hubert Sumlin on guitar, Willie Dixon on double bass, and Fred Below on drums.[4] Both Freddie King and Freddy Robinson have been suggested as the second guitarist.[4][2] The song is included on the 1962 Wolf compilation album Howlin' Wolf.[4] He re-recorded the song in November 1968 for The Howlin' Wolf Album.

The Doors version

"Back Door Man"
Song by the Doors
from the album The Doors
ReleasedJanuary 4, 1967 (1967-01-04)
RecordedAugust 1966
Songwriter(s)Willie Dixon
Producer(s)Paul A. Rothchild

The Doors recorded a blues rock version of the "Back Door Man" which appears on their self-titled debut album. Doors' drummer John Densmore described it as a song that is "deeply sexual and got everyone moving."[6] Jim Morrison provides the vocal, backed by Ray Manzarek on keyboards, Robby Krieger on guitar, and John Densmore on drums.[7] A live recording appears on the Doors' Absolutely Live (1970).

Other versions

The song has also been recorded by Guy Mitchell, John Hammond (Jr.), Chicken Shack, Blues Project, Shadows of Knight, Bob Weir, Sam Gopal, T-Model Ford, Quicksilver Messenger Service, and Soul Asylum (fronted by Iggy Pop, at the opening of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame). Frank Marino, of the band Mahogany Rush, recorded it on Mahogany Rush Live. The song's author, Willie Dixon, recorded it for his 1970 album I Am the Blues. In 1984, "Back Door Man" was also covered by Viktor Lazlo. Eric Burdon performed it during his tour with ex-Doors guitarist Robby Krieger in 1990 and 1991.


  1. ^ Chess Records catalog no. 1777
  2. ^ a b Segrest, James; & Hoffman, Mark (2005). Moanin' at Midnight: The Life and Times of Howlin' Wolf. Thunder's Mouth Press. pp. 174, 369. ISBN 1-56025-683-4.
  3. ^ Oliver, Paul (1990). Blues Fell This Morning: Meaning in the Blues. Cambridge University Press. p. 87. ISBN 0-521-37793-5.
  4. ^ a b c Shurman, Dick (1991). Howlin' Wolf: The Chess Box (Box set booklet). Howlin' Wolf. Chess/MCA Records. pp. 27, 29. CHD3-9332.
  5. ^ Davis, Stephen (2004). Jim Morrison: Life, Death, Legend. Gotham Books. ISBN 1-59240-064-7.
  6. ^ Densmore, John (1991). Riders on the Storm: My Life with Jim Morrison and the Doors. Dell Publishing. p. 77. ISBN 0-385-30447-1.
  7. ^ The Doors (Album notes). The Doors. New York City: Elektra Records. 1967. Back cover. ELK-4007.CS1 maint: others (link)

External links