Hit the Road Jack

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This article is about the single by Ray Charles. For the album by Big Youth, see Hit the Road Jack (album). For the television series, see Hit the Road Jack (TV series).
"Hit the Road Jack"
Single by Ray Charles
B-side "The Danger Zone"
Released August 28, 1961
Format 7" single, 45rpm
Genre Rhythm and blues
Length 2:00
Label ABC-Paramount
Writer(s) Percy Mayfield
Ray Charles singles chronology
"Hit the Road Jack"
""I'm Gonna Move to the Outskirts of Town""

"Hit the Road Jack" is a song written by rhythm and bluesman Percy Mayfield and first recorded in 1960 as an a cappella demo sent to Art Rupe. It became famous after it was recorded by singer-songwriter-pianist Ray Charles with The Raelettes vocalist Margie Hendricks.

Ray Charles' recording hit number one for two weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, beginning on Monday, October 9, 1961. "Hit the Road Jack" also got a Grammy Award for Best Rhythm and Blues Recording. The song was also number one on the R&B Sides chart for five weeks, thereby becoming Ray Charles' sixth number one on that chart. The song is ranked #387 on the Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Notable recordings[edit]

References in popular culture[edit]

  • The Buffalo Bill episode "Hit the Road, Newdell" includes a dream sequence where Dabney Coleman's character lipsyncs the Ray Charles version of the song. This musical sequence was deleted from the DVD release because producers were unable to secure rights to include the song.[1]
  • In the Two and a Half Men episode "A Bottle of Wine and a Jackhammer", Charlie plays the piece in delight on his piano as Alan moves out of his house.
  • It was the theme song from the sitcom Unhappily Ever After from season 1 to 5.
  • The song is featured in the 1964 short film Scorpio Rising.
  • Ray Charles' version is played over the PA during Chicago Bulls games when an opponent fouls out of the game.
  • It plays during the closing credits of 1989 film The Dream Team.
  • During the late 1980s and early 1990s, Kentucky Fried Chicken released a series of TV commercials that used a rerecorded version of the song, re-titled "Cross the Road Jack"; additionally, the line "and don't you come back no more" was also changed to "Kentucky Fried Chicken's got more".
  • The song is referenced in the hook of British singer Conor Maynard's single "R U Crazy".
  • In the movie The Fisher King, radio DJ Jack Lucas uses it as the closing theme for his phone in show.
  • Rough Copy sang "Hit the Road Jack" on the fifth live show of the tenth series of The X Factor.
  • EastEnders actor Scott Maslen and professional dancer Natalie Lowe danced a Jive to this song in the 8th series of Strictly Come Dancing in week 7, scoring 39 points out of 40 from the judges.
  • The song is referenced and sampled on Kid Rock's 2001 hit,"Forever".


Chart (1961) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[2] 3
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[3] 13
France (SNEP)[4] 42
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[5] 6
US Billboard Hot 100[6] 1
US Hot R&B Sides (Billboard)[6] 1
Chart (2011) Peak
France (SNEP)[7] 90


  1. ^ Weinberg, Scott (October 11, 2005). "Buffalo Bill - The Complete First and Second Seasons". DVD Talk. Retrieved December 10, 2013. 
  2. ^ Kent, David (2005). Australian Chart Book (1940–1969). Turramurra: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-44439-5. 
  3. ^ "Ultratop.be – Ray Charles – Hit the Road Jack" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved March 8, 2014.
  4. ^ "Accès direct à ces Artistes: Ray Charles" (select "Ray Charles" and then click "Go") (in French). InfoDisc. Retrieved March 8, 2014. 
  5. ^ "Archive Chart: 1961-11-11" UK Singles Chart. Retrieved March 8, 2014.
  6. ^ a b "Ray Charles – Awards". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved March 8, 2014. 
  7. ^ "Lescharts.com – Ray Charles – Hit the Road Jack" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved March 8, 2014.

External links[edit]