Junco Partner

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"Junco Partner" is an American blues song first recorded by James Waynes in 1951.[1] It has been recorded and revised by many other artists over several decades, including Louis Jordan, Dr. John, Professor Longhair, James Booker, and The Clash.[2] It has been covered in various genres of music including blues, folk, rock, reggae, and dub.

Early recordings[edit]

Singer James Waynes made the first recording of "Junco Partner" in 1951, for Bob Shad's record label "Sittin' in with...".[1] The song is credited to Shad and "Robert Ellen" (a pseudonym Shad used on some recordings),[3] though it was directly inspired by the Willie Hall song "Junker's Blues".[4] According to musician Mac Rebennack ("Dr. John"), James Waynes' recording made the song popular, although it was already widely known among musicians in New Orleans and elsewhere as "the anthem of the dopers, the whores, the pimps, the cons. It was a song they sang in Angola, the state prison farm, and the rhythm was even known as the 'jailbird beat'."[5] In 1952, several artists covered the song, including Richard Hayes with the Eddie Sauter Orchestra,[6] and Louis Jordan & His Tympany Five for Decca.[7]

Fully credited to himself, Chuck Berry's 1961 "The Man and the Donkey" is based on the "Junco Partner" melody [8] with a story based on a traditional West African tale heard on other songs such as Willie Dixon's Signifying Monkey (1947) or Oscar Brown, Jr.'s Signifying Monkey (1960).

Later versions[edit]

Roland Stone, a white R&B singer from New Orleans, recorded two versions with rewritten lyrics, the first in 1959 as "Preacher's Daughter",[9] and the second in 1961 as "Down the Road". The Holy Modal Rounders recorded the song as "Junko Partner" in 1965.[10]

The 1970s produced several widely known covers. In 1972, Dr. John covered the song for his Dr. John's Gumbo album.[11] In 1976, Professor Longhair covered it for his Rock 'n' Roll Gumbo album,[12] and James Booker did the same for his homonymous album, "Junco Partner".[13] It was Richard Hayes' version that caught the ear of Joe Strummer, who recorded it with the London-based band The 101'ers.[14] He later recorded it again, this time in Kingston, Jamaica, with The Clash for their triple hit album Sandinista!, released in 1980, which included two versions: a reggae version, "Junco Partner", and a dub version, "Version Pardner".[15]

Bob Dylan's 1986 album, Knocked Out Loaded, took its title from a "Junco Partner" lyric.[16] Carlos del Junco covered the song for his Big Boy album, released in 1999.[17] The Hindu Love Gods, with Warren Zevon as lead singer and three members of R.E.M., also released their recording of this song under the title "Junko Pardner."[18]


  1. ^ a b Profile of James "Wee Willie" Wayne at Black Cat Rockabilly. Retrieved 4 April 2013
  2. ^ "A List of Junco Partner Covers". Secondhandsongs.com. Retrieved 30 December 2013. 
  3. ^ List of recordings of "Junco Partner" at The Grateful Dead Family Discography. Retrieved 21 November 2013
  4. ^ Williamson, Nigel (April 30, 2007). The Rough Guide to Blues 1 (Rough Guide Reference). Rough Guides; 1 edition. p. 27. ISBN 978-1843535195. 
  5. ^ Liner notes to Dr. John's Gumbo, reprinted at barewires blog. Retrieved 4 April 2013
  6. ^ Strother, Rex. "Richard Hayes". Saxony Records. 
  7. ^ Jurek, Thom. "A Review of Louis Jordan: Complete Decca Recordings, 1950-1952". Allmusic.com. Retrieved 11 December 2013. 
  8. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "A Review of Chuck Berry's You Never Can Tell: The Complete Chess Recordings 1960-1966". Allmusic.com. 
  9. ^ "Roland Stone". Article based on an Obituary. 
  10. ^ Mason, Stewart. "A Review of The Holy Modal Rounders 2". Allmusic.com. Retrieved 11 December 2013. 
  11. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "A Review of Dr. John's Gumbo". Allmusic.com. Retrieved 11 December 2013. 
  12. ^ Iyengar, Vik. "A Review of Rock 'n' Roll Gumbo". Allmusic.com. Retrieved 11 December 2013. 
  13. ^ Gottlieb, Bob. "A Review of James Booker's Junco Partner". Allmusic.com. Retrieved 11 December 2013. 
  14. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "A Review of Elgin Avenue Breakdown". Allmusic.com. Retrieved 11 December 2013. 
  15. ^ Gray, Marcus (November 1, 2004). The Clash: Return of the Last Gang in Town - 2nd Edition. Hal Leonard November 1, 2004. pp. 113, 342, 350. ISBN 978-0634082405. 
  16. ^ Heylin, Clinton (April 29, 2003). Bob Dylan: Behind the Shades Revisited. Harper Entertainment. p. 594. ISBN 978-0060525699. 
  17. ^ "Carlos Del Junco's Big Boy Track Listing". Allmusic.com. Retrieved 11 December 2013. 
  18. ^ Fetherston, Daniel. "A Review of The Hindu Love Gods". Allmusic.com. Retrieved 11 December 2013. 

See also[edit]