Messin' with the Kid

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"Messin' with the Kid"
Messin' with the Kid single cover.jpg
Single by Junior Wells
B-side "Universal Rock"
Released 1960 (1960)
Format 7-inch 45 rpm record
Recorded October 17, 1960
Studio Universal Studios, Chicago
Genre Blues
Length 2:12
Label Chief (no. C-7021)
Songwriter(s) Mel London
Producer(s) Mel London
Junior Wells singles chronology
"Galloping Horses a Lazy Mule"
"Messin' with the Kid"
"I'm a Stranger"

"Messin' with the Kid" is a rhythm and blues-influenced blues song originally recorded by Junior Wells in 1960. Chief Records owner/songwriter/producer Mel London is credited as the songwriter. Considered a blues standard,[1] it is Junior Wells's best-known song.[2] "Messin' with the Kid" was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame and has been recorded by a variety of blues and other artists.

Original song[edit]

"Messin' with the Kid" is an up-tempo twelve-bar blues which alternates between Afro-Cuban- and Little Richard-style rhythmic accompaniment. According to Junior Wells, the title was inspired by his young daughter Gina. Mel London arrived early at Wells' home to pick him up for a scheduled recording session: "'Where's you Daddy at? Get him up'. 'No, you said you were goin' to be here at nine o'clock. It's not nine o'clock.... You're not goin' to be messin' with the kid'".[2] "The Kid" was a nickname for Wells. Later in the studio, they needed another song for the session: " thing led to another and ... it took us five minutes, maybe ten minutes and we had it".[2]

What's this you hear goin' all around town
The people are sayin' you're gonna to put The Kid down
Well oh lord, well look at what you did
You can call it what you wanna, but I call it messin' with The Kid

Wells sang the song, but unlike most of his early singles, he does not play harmonica. The backup is provided by Earl Hooker (and possibly Lacey Gibson) on guitar, Johnny "Big Moose" Walker on piano, Jack Myers on bass, Fred Below on drums, Jarrett Gibson on tenor saxophone, and Donald Hankins on baritone saxophone.

In 1966, Wells recorded a second version of "Messin' with the Kid". It features a different rhythm arrangement and includes a harmonica solo by Wells with backup by Buddy Guy on guitar along with Myers and Below. The song was released on the 1966 blues compilation Chicago|The Blues|Today! Vol. 1.[3] Wells and Guy used a similar arrangement for "Snatch It Back and Hold It" on their influential Hoodoo Man Blues album (1965). The duo later recorded several live versions of the song, including in 1977 for Live in Montreux.

Recognition and legacy[edit]

In 1998, the Blues Foundation inducted "Messin' with the Kid" into the Blues Hall of Fame as a "Classic of Blues Recordings – Singles or Album Tracks".[4] In a 1998 press release, the Foundation noted:

‘Messin’ With the Kid’ also foreshadowed where Junior was about to take the Blues. On Chicago’s West Side, his contemporaries Buddy Guy, Otis Rush and Magic Sam Maghett were incorporating the emotional dynamism of Soul music into the Delta-bred sounds upon which they were raised. While in the South Side’s watering holes, Junior began fusing old-school Blues with the funky beat of modern R&B. Together these men defined the sound of electric Blues’ second generation.[4]

"Messin' with the Kid" has been recorded by various artists, including the Downchild Blues Band on their 1971 debut "Bootleg", Rory Gallagher from Live in Europe (1972), Todd Rundgren (with Woody's Truck Stop) from Something/Anything (1972), Johnny Winter from White, Hot and Blue (1978), the Blues Brothers on their first album Briefcase Full of Blues (1978), Luther Allison from South Side Safari (1983), AC/DC during the rehearsals for the Flick of the Switch/Monsters of Rock Tour (1983), and Freddie King on Texas Flyer: 1974–1976 (2010).

Several artists have recorded songs based on "Messin' with the Kid", including Earl Hooker, who recorded an instrumental titled "Rockin' with the Kid" (1961 Chief 7031). Steppenwolf's "Tighten Up Your Wig" is essentially "Messin' with the Kid" with new lyrics. Also in 1961, Muddy Waters recorded an answer song, "Messin' with the Man" (Chess 1796). Blues singer Eddie C. Campbell recorded a Christmas novelty song, titled "Santa's Messin' With The Kid" (1977 from King of the Jungle), in which Santa is "messing with" the wife of the Kid, until "The Kid ran him out o' town":

Santa come' once a year we all know, didn't use my chimney had a key to my do'
Oh, Lord, look what Santa did, (he's messin' with me)
Call it Merry Christmas?, I say Santa's messin' with The Kid


  1. ^ Herzhaft, Gerard (1992). "Messin' with the Kid". Encyclopedia of the Blues. Fayetteville, Arkansas: University of Arkansas Press. p. 462. ISBN 1-55728-252-8. 
  2. ^ a b c Danchin, Sebastian (2001). Earl Hooker: Blues Master. Jackson, Mississippi: University Press of Mississippi. pp. 132–33. ISBN 1-57806-306-X. 
  3. ^ Vanguard Records 79216, 1966
  4. ^ a b Blues Foundation (November 10, 2016). "1998 Hall of Fame Inductees: Messing with the Kid – Junior Wells (Chief, 1960)". The Blues Foundation. Retrieved February 8, 2017.