Mannish Boy

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"Manish Boy"
Muddywaters Mannish Boy.jpg
Single by Muddy Waters
B-side "Young Fashioned Ways"
Released June 1955 (1955-06)[1]
Format 7" 45 RPM, 10" 78 RPM
Recorded May 24, 1955 in Chicago, Illinois[1]
Genre Chicago blues
Length 2:55
Label Chess[2]
Writer(s) McKinley Morganfield, Mel London, Ellas McDaniel
Producer(s) Leonard Chess, Phil Chess
Muddy Waters singles chronology
"I'm Ready"
"Mannish Boy"
"Trouble No More"/ "Sugar Sweet"

"Mannish Boy" (or "Manish Boy") is a blues standard by Muddy Waters first recorded in 1955. It is both an arrangement of and an "answer song" to Bo Diddley's "I'm a Man",[2] which was in turn inspired by Waters' and Willie Dixon's "Hoochie Coochie Man", in first release it was titled "Manish Boy."[3]

"Mannish Boy" features a repeating stop-time figure on one chord throughout the song and is credited to Waters, Mel London, and Bo Diddley.

Muddy Waters versions[edit]

The original version of "Mannish Boy" was recorded in Chicago on May 24, 1955, under the title "Manish Boy." Accompanying Muddy Waters were Jimmy Rogers on guitar, Junior Wells on harmonica, Fred Below on drums, and an un-identified female chorus. The original version was the only recording done by Muddy Waters between January 1953 and June 1957 that did not feature Little Walter on harmonica (who was on tour supporting his then-number one hit "My Babe" and thus unavailable for the recording session) and was one of few studio recordings with Junior Wells.[1]

Muddy Waters recorded several versions of "Mannish Boy" during his career. In 1968, he recorded it for the Electric Mud album in Marshall Chess' attempt to attract the rock market. After he left Chess, he recorded it for the 1977 Hard Again album which was produced by Johnny Winter. The song also was included on the live album Muddy "Mississippi" Waters - Live (1979). He also performed it at The Band's farewell concert The Last Waltz, and the performance was included in the documentary film of the concert as well as on the film's soundtrack of the same title.

Mannish Boy was also featured on the film soundtracks of Risky Business[4] and Goodfellas.

Charts and accolades[edit]

The song reached #5 during a stay of six weeks in the Billboard R&B chart.[5] The song was Muddy Waters' only chart appearance on the UK Singles Chart, peaking at #51 in 1988.[6]

In 1986, Muddy Waters' original "Mannish Boy" was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame "Classics of Blues Recordings" category.[7] It was also included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's list of the "500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll".[8] "Mannish Boy" is ranked #229 in Rolling Stone magazine's list of the "500 Greatest Songs of All Time".[9]

Cover versions[edit]

A cover by Jimi Hendrix appears on the compilation album Blues.

Paul Butterfield covered the song in 1986 on his album The Legendary Paul Butterfield Rides Again.

The song was covered by Hindu Love Gods in their album of the same name.

A version of the song appears on The Bocephus Box, a three-CD box set by Hank Williams, Jr., released in 2000.

Elliott Murphy covered "Mannish Boy" in 2005 on Murphy gets Muddy.

The Rolling Stones have often incorporated this song, among other blues standards, into their live set, and it can be heard on the albums Love You Live and Rarities 1971-2003.

Wolfmother did a cover of the song for their special edition version of Cosmic Egg.

Black Stone Cherry performed a heavier version along with "Hoochie Coochie Man" in October 2009 at Rockaplast in Germany.

The song was further rearranged in the 2003 Martin Scorsese documentary film series titled The Blues. In the fifth film, titled Godfathers and Sons and directed by Marc Levin, Mannish Boy was redone by The ElectriK Mud Kats[10] (a.k.a. The Electric Mud Band, Muddy Waters' backing group from his album Electric Mud) with vocals by hip hop artists Chuck D, Common & Kyle Jason.

Roger Daltrey performed a cover of the song on Jools Holland's New Years show on December 31, 2010.

A version of the song recorded by Erykah Badu was featured in an H&M TV advert in spring 2011.[11]

Aerosmith performed the song on The Howard Stern Show on January 13, 1995.

A version of the song performed by Jeff Garlin appeared in the 2003 movie Daddy Day Care.

A version of the song performed by "The Mannish Boys" was featured during the credits at the end of the 2007 movie, What Love Is.

A version of the song performed by John Mayer was the opening song for the 2014 Budweiser Made in America Festival.

Big Country performed versions of the song at the Country Club Convention, Glen Pavilion, Pittencrieff Park, Dunfermline on Aug. 31,1991 and at Biskuithalle Bonn, on Sept. 06, 1991


  1. ^ a b c George R. White; Robert L. Campbell; Tom Kelly. "The Chess Label Part II (1953–1955)". Robert Campbell. Clemson, South Carolina: Clemson University. Retrieved March 7, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b Gilliland, John (1969). "Show 4 - The Tribal Drum: The rise of rhythm and blues. [Part 2]" (audio). Pop Chronicles. 
  3. ^ Herzhaft, Gerard (1992). Encyclopedia of the Blues. University of Arkansas Press. p. 454. ISBN 1-55728-252-8. 
  4. ^ "Risky Business". AllMusic. 
  5. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1988). Top R&B Singles 1942-1988. Record Research. p. 435. ISBN 0-89820-068-7. 
  6. ^ "Muddy Waters". The Official Charts Company. Retrieved March 7, 2011. 
  7. ^ "Blues Hall of Fame - Inductees". Blues Foundation. 1986. Retrieved October 30, 2009. 
  8. ^ "500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll (Artists W-Z)". Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on February 8, 2009. 
  9. ^ Jann S. Wenner, ed. (December 9, 2004). "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". Rolling Stone. United States: Jann S. Wenner (963). Archived from the original on June 25, 2008. 
  10. ^ "The Blues . The Songs & the Artists . Discography . Godfathers and Sons". PBS. Retrieved 2014-06-13. 
  11. ^ Archived August 7, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.

External links[edit]