Good Rocking Tonight

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For the television show, see Good Rockin' Tonite.
"Good Rocking Tonight"
Song by Roy Brown
Released 1947
Recorded June 1947
Genre Jump blues
Writer Roy Brown
Composer Roy Brown
Language English

"Good Rocking Tonight" was originally a jump blues song released in 1947 by its writer, Roy Brown[1] and was covered by many other recording artists. The song includes the memorable refrain, "Well I heard the news, there's good rocking tonight!" The song anticipated elements of rock and roll music.[2]

Original version[edit]

Brown had first offered his song to Wynonie Harris, who turned it down. He then approached Cecil Gant later that night, but after hearing Brown sing, Gant made a 2:30 AM phone call to Jules Braun, the president of DeLuxe Records. After Roy Brown sang his song over the phone, Braun asked Brown to sing it a second time. He then told Gant, "Give him fifty dollars and don't let him out of your sight."[3]

Five weeks later, Brown recorded the song for DeLuxe Records. Only after Brown's record had gained traction in New Orleans did Harris decide to cover it. Harris's version was even more energetic than Brown's original version, featuring black gospel style handclapping. This may have contributed to the composition's greater success on the national R&B chart. Brown's original recording hit #13 of the Billboard R&B chart, but Harris' record became a #1 R&B hit and remained on the chart for half a year.[4] Brown's single would re-enter the chart in 1949, peaking at #11.

Harris had a reputation for carousing, and sometimes forgot lyrics. His "Good Rockin'" recording session largely followed Brown's original lyrics, but by the end, he replaced the last section with a series of raucous "hoy hoy hoy!" interjections, a commonly used expression in jump blues tunes of the time, going back to 1945's "The Honeydripper" by Joe Liggins.[citation needed]

The song is a primer of sorts on the popular black music of the era, making lyrical reference to Sweet Lorraine, Sioux City Sue, Sweet Georgia Brown, Caldonia, Elder Brown, and Deacon Jones. All of these characters had figured prominently in previous hit songs. The song has also been credited with being the most successful record to that point to use the word "rock" not as a euphemism for sex, but as a descriptive for the musical style, a connection which would become even clearer in 1954 when a version of "Good Rockin' Tonight" became Elvis Presley's second-ever single.

While Brown missed out on the biggest hit version of his song, its success kicked off his own career, which included two #1 R&B hits. In 1949, he released "Rockin' at Midnight", a sequel to "Good Rockin' Tonight." It reached #2 on the R&B chart, where it remained for a month.[5]


Elvis Presley version[edit]

"Good Rockin' Tonight"
Single by Elvis Presley
from the album A Date with Elvis
B-side "I Don't Care If the Sun Don't Shine"
Released September 1954[6]
Format Single
Recorded September 10, 1954[6]
Genre Rockabilly
Length 2:14
Label Sun
Writer(s) Roy Brown
Producer(s) Sam Phillips
Elvis Presley singles chronology
"That's All Right"
"Good Rockin' Tonight" (1954) "Milkcow Blues Boogie"
"Rockin' at Midnight"
Single by The Honeydrippers
from the album The Honeydrippers: Volume One
Released 1984
Format Single
Recorded March 1984, Atlantic Studios, New York, NY
Genre Rock and roll, rockabilly
Length 6:00

Es Paranza/Atlantic Records

Writer(s) Roy Brown
Producer(s) Nugetre and The Fabulous Brill Brothers (Robert Plant & Phil Carson)

In 1954, "Good Rockin' Tonight" was the second Sun Records release by Elvis Presley, along with "I Don't Care if the Sun Don't Shine" on the flip side.[7][8] Presley and his bandmates hewed closer to the original Roy Brown version, but omitted the lyrics' by-then-dated roster of names in favor of a simpler, more energetic "We're gonna rock, rock, rock!" Described as "a flat-out rocker" country radio programmers blanched, and older audiences were somewhat mystified. A live show broadcast from Houston DJ Bill Collie's club documented that the crowd "barely responded" to the song. "Blue Moon of Kentucky", the uptempo version of the Bill Monroe classic, has "the fans go stark raving nuts with joy". Both sides of this second record featuring "Elvis Presley, Scotty and Bill" "stiffed".."[9]

The song was used for the biopic Elvis, which starred Jonathan Rhys-Meyers as Presley; it was used for a montage sequence where he is performing at the Louisiana Hayride in 1954.

Charts and certifications[edit]

Sales and certifications[edit]

Region Certification Sales/shipments
United States (RIAA)[10] Gold 500,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone


Other versions[edit]

  • Link Wray in 1965 under the name "Good Rockin' Tonight".
  • A Gene Summers cover version of "Good Rocking Tonight" was included on a French compilation album The Big Beat Show issued by Big Beat Records (BBR1000) in 1981.
  • Contraband, an all-star hard rock group recorded their version of the song for their debut self-titled album in 1991.
  • Wes Paul Gerrard features this song heavily in his live performances, often opening up with it in his second set. He will record the song in his new Manchester to Memphis album which he is recording at Sun Studio, Memphis, Tennessee in May 2010.


  1. ^ Nick Tosches, Country: The Twisted Roots of Rock 'n' Roll (Da Capo Press, 1996), 51.
  2. ^ "Morgan Wright's The Dawn of Rock 'n Roll". 1954-05-02. Retrieved 2012-03-04. 
  3. ^ Lauterbach, Preston, The Chitlin' Circuit and the Road to Rock N Roll, W.W. Norton, 2011, pg. 142-143
  4. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 246. 
  5. ^ Roy Brown's "Good Rockin' Tonight" Retrieved July 2, 2012.
  6. ^ a b Jorgensen, Ernst (July 1998). Elvis Presley: A Life in Music. New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-18572-3. OCLC 38168234. 
  7. ^ [1][dead link]
  8. ^ Gary Dowell, Isaiah Evans, James L. Halperin, Kim Jones, and Ivy Press, Heritage Music and Entertainment Dallas Signature Auction Catalog #634 (Heritage Capital Corporation, 2006), 167.
  9. ^ The Blue Moon Boys - The Story of Elvis Presley's Band. Ken Burke and Dan Griffin. 2006. Chicago Review Press. pages 45,46. ISBN 1-55652-614-8
  10. ^ "American single certifications – Elvis Presley – Good Rocking Tonight". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH
  11. ^ Barker, Derek (2009). Liner notes to Bruce Springsteen's Jukebox: The Songs that Inspired the Man [CD]. Chrome Dreams.
  12. ^ Jerry Lee Lewis, The 20 Most Requested Retrieved July 1, 2012.
Preceded by
"Tomorrow Night" by Lonnie Johnson
Billboard Best Selling Retail Race Records number-one single (Wynonie Harris version)
June 19, 1948
Succeeded by
"Tomorrow Night" by Lonnie Johnson