Hello Mary Lou

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"Hello Mary Lou"
Ricky Nelson - Hello Mary Lou.jpg
Single by Ricky Nelson
A-side "Travelin' Man"
Released 1961
Genre Rockabilly[1]
Length 2:17
Label Imperial Records #5741
Songwriter(s) Gene Pitney, Cayet Mangiaracina
Ricky Nelson singles chronology
"You Are the Only One"
"Hello Mary Lou"
"A Wonder Like You/Everlovin'"

"You Are the Only One"
"Hello Mary Lou"
"A Wonder Like You/Everlovin'"

"Hello Mary Lou" is a song written by U.S. singer Gene Pitney[2][3][4] first recorded by Johnny Duncan in 1960,[5] and later by Ricky Nelson in 1961.

Nelson's version, issued as the B-side of his No. 1 hit "Travelin' Man", (Imperial 5741), reached No. 9 on the Billboard music charts on May 28, 1961. In the United Kingdom, where it was released as an A-side (with "Travelin' Man" as the B-side), it reached No. 2. It was also a hit in much of Europe, particularly Norway, where it spent 14 weeks at No. 1. In New Zealand, the song reached No. 4.[6]

A 1991 reissue following the song's use in a TV advert gave the song a second chart run, peaking at No. 45 in the UK Singles Chart.

The song features an influential guitar solo by James Burton, often cited by later guitarists such as Brian May. Piano is by Ray Johnson, who had succeeded Gene Garf as Nelson's regular session pianist in November 1959.[7] Other musicians on the record include Joe Osborn on bass and Ritchie Frost on drums.[8]

The song appears on Nelson's sixth album Rick Is 21.

Plagiarism controversy[edit]

Hello Mary Lou was not strictly an original composition. Pitney reworked a version of an earlier song 'Merry, Merry Lou', recorded by a band called The Sparks in 1957, which was covered later that year by Bill Haley & His Comets, as 'Mary Mary Lou'. The composer of the track was Cayet Mangiaracina, band member of The Sparks, who would later become ordained as a Catholic priest. When Hello Mary Lou was released, the recording company Decca sued for plagiarism of this song and won. Furthermore, Mangiaracina was awarded writer co-credits for Hello Mary Lou as composer of the original song.[9]

Cover versions[edit]

The song was also recorded, in French, by Petula Clark as "Bye Bye Mon Amour" and was covered by LMP on their album A Century of Song as their selection for 1961.


  1. ^ Corp, Hal Leonard (1 April 2004). "Rockabilly: Guitar Play-Along". Hal Leonard Corporation. Retrieved 18 November 2017 – via Google Books. 
  2. ^ "Hello Mary Lou Goodbye Heart (Legal Title)". Repertoire.bmi.com. Retrieved 2012-08-05. [permanent dead link]
  3. ^ Lee Jensen (19 Oct 2011). "Rock and Roll Heaven: How a Priest Helped Write "Hello, Mary Lou"". Yahoo Inc. Archived from the original on 12 April 2013. Retrieved 2 March 2013. 
  4. ^ Don Ellzey (2013). "Ponchatoula priest shares special part in Rock 'n Roll history". actionnews17.com/. Retrieved 2 March 2013. 
  5. ^ "Freddy and His Go-Cart by Johnny Duncan". Secondhandsongs.com. Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  6. ^ "flavour of new zealand - Lever hit parades". Flavourofnz.co.nz. Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  7. ^ "Ray Johnson". Rockabilly.nl. Retrieved 2 March 2013. 
  8. ^ "Rick Is 21 : Rick Nelson Records". Rickynelson.co.uk. Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  9. ^ "Original versions of Merry, Merry Lou written by Cayet Mangiaracina - SecondHandSongs". secondhandsongs.com. Retrieved 26 January 2017. 
  10. ^ "Allmusic - The Many Sides of Gene Pitney". 
  11. ^ "Bobby Lewis - Chart history - Billboard". billboard.com. Retrieved 26 January 2017. 

External links[edit]