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|Single by Little Richard|
|B-side||"Can't Believe You Wanna Leave"|
|Format||Seven-inch 45 rpm record|
|Genre||Rock and roll|
|Label||Specialty (no. 611)|
|Little Richard singles chronology|
"Keep A-Knockin' (But You Can't Come In)" is a popular song that has been recorded by a variety of musicians over the years. The lyrics concern a lover at the door who won't be admitted—in some versions because someone else is already there, but in most others because the knocking lover has behaved badly.
Early versions are sometimes credited to Perry Bradford and J. Mayo Williams. Variations were recorded by James "Boodle It" Wiggins in 1928, Lil Johnson in 1935, Milton Brown in 1936 and Louis Jordan in 1939. A similar lyrical theme appears in "Open the Door, Richard" from 1946, but from the viewpoint of the one knocking.
In 1957, when Little Richard recorded it as an uptempo rock and roll song "Keep A-Knockin'" reached number two on the U.S. R&B charts and number eight on the U.S. pop charts. His version is usually credited to Penniman (Richard's legal name), Williams, and Mays. Little Richard played the song on an episode of Full House. He recorded a version of the song with different lyrics as an introduction for the NBC show Friday Night Videos. The song was also featured in the theatrical trailer for Home Alone. The song was used in the film Christine when Dennis is trying to break into the car, but is then scared off by the song that suddenly starts playing from the car radio.
Recognition and influence
Rolling Stone magazine later ranked "Keep A-Knockin'" at number 442 in its list of the "500 Greatest Songs of All Time". An answer song titled "I Hear You Knocking", written by Dave Bartholomew and Pearl King, was recorded by Smiley Lewis in 1955. The drum part on Little Richard's song, played by Charles Connor, also inspired later songs. Eddie Cochran's "Somethin' Else" features an identical drum beat, played by Earl Palmer. The drum introduction on the Little Richard recording was used by John Bonham for introduction to the Led Zeppelin song "Rock and Roll".
Other recorded renditions
- The Blasters have a version on their 1982 live album Over There (Live At The Venue, London).
- Blue Angel (band) (featuring Cyndi Lauper) (1980)
- The Everly Brothers on their 1958 eponymous debut album The Everly Brothers.
- Artful Dodger on their 1976 album Honor Among Thieves.
- Flamin' Groovies recorded it for their second LP Flamingo in 1970.
- Fleetwood Mac recorded a live version in February 1970, released as Live in Boston in February 1985.
- Bobby Fuller recorded it in 1965 at PJ's, but it would go unreleased until 1991 on Live at PJ's Plus!.
- The Crickets released their version on their 1973 album Bubblegum, Pop, Ballads & Boogie.
- Hurriganes recorded it for their debut 1973 album Rock 'n' Roll All Night Long.
- Mississippi John Hurt had a posthumous release in 1967 on the album The Immortal Mississippi John Hurt .
- Lindisfarne recorded it as part of a medley with "It'll Be Me" for their 1987 album C'mon Everybody.
- Liquorice John Death, a pseudonym for Procol Harum recorded it in 1970, and issued it on the album Ain't Nothin' to Get Excited About in 1997.
- Mott The Hoople had a live version recorded in September 1970, on their 1971 release Wildlife.
- The Rivieras released it on their debut 1964 album Let's Have A Party.
- The Rockers, a one-off project comprising Roy Wood, Phil Lynott, Chas Hodges and John Coghlan, recorded it as part of a medley, We Are The Boys (Who Make All The Noise), as a single in 1983.
- Suzi Quatro recorded a version for her second LP Quatro in 1974.
- The Outlaws, an early band with Ritchie Blackmore of Deep Purple, released it as a single in April 1964.
- The Sonics recorded it for their 1965 debut album Here Are The Sonics, but it wasn't included until the 1998 reissue as a bonus track.
- Roger Taylor of the band Queen, recorded it as a single in 1997.
- The Trashmen had a bootleg recording made in 1965 and released in 2002 as Teen Trot, initially on Sundazed Records.
- The Woodentops included it on their 2002 album Wooden Foot Cops on the Highway.
- Breaux Brothers recorded it in Dallas, TX in 1937.
Other notable artists known to have recorded it include Johnny Rivers (1965), Alvin Lee (1974), Doug Sahm (1983), Wet Willie (1972), Alan Price (1980), Shakin' Stevens (1983) and Cliff Richards (2016).
- Little Richard interviewed on the Pop Chronicles (1969)
- Whitburn, Joel (1988). Top R&B Singles 1942–1988. Record Research, Inc. p. 260. ISBN 0-89820-068-7.
- "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". Rolling Stone (963). December 9, 2004. Retrieved August 4, 2014.
- Cochran, Bobby (2003). Three Steps to Heaven: The Eddie Cochran Story (1st ed.). Milwaukee: Hal Leonard. p. 145. ISBN 0-634-03252-6.
- "Keep A Knockin' Cover Versions".