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My Ding-a-Ling

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"My Ding-a-Ling"
Single by Chuck Berry
from the album The London Chuck Berry Sessions
ReleasedJuly 1972 (1972-07)
RecordedFebruary 3, 1972 at the Lanchester Arts Festival in Coventry, England
Length4:18 / 11:33 (Full Version)
LabelChess 2131
Songwriter(s)Dave Bartholomew
Producer(s)Esmond Edwards
Chuck Berry singles chronology
"My Ding-a-Ling"
"Reelin' and Rockin'"

"My Ding-a-Ling" is a novelty song written and recorded by Dave Bartholomew. It was covered by Chuck Berry in 1972 and became his only number-one Billboard Hot 100 single in the United States.[1] Later that year, a longer version was included on the album The London Chuck Berry Sessions. Guitarist Onnie McIntyre and drummer Robbie McIntosh, who later formed the Average White Band, played on the single, along with Nic Potter of Van der Graaf Generator on bass.

"My Ding-a-Ling" was originally recorded by Dave Bartholomew in 1952 for King Records. When Bartholomew moved to Imperial Records, he re-recorded the song under the new title, "Little Girl Sing Ting-a-Ling". In 1954, the Bees on Imperial released a version entitled "Toy Bell". Doug Clark and the Hot Nuts recorded it in 1961,[2] and it was part of their live act for many years. Berry recorded a version called "My Tambourine" in 1968, but the version which topped the charts was recorded live during the Lanchester Arts Festival at the Locarno ballroom in Coventry, England, on 3 February 1972 by the Pye Mobile Recording Unit, engineered by Alan Perkins, where Berry – backed by the Roy Young Band – topped a bill that also included Slade, George Carlin, Billy Preston and Pink Floyd. Boston radio station WMEX disc jockey Jim Connors was credited with a gold record for discovering the song and pushing it to #1 over the airwaves and amongst his peers in the United States. Billboard ranked it as the No. 15 song for 1972.

The song is based on the melody of the 19th-century folk song "Little Brown Jug". Bartholomew's 1952 version contains a Shave and a Haircut motif.


The song tells of how the singer received a toy consisting of "silver bells hanging on a string" from his grandmother, who calls them his "ding-a-ling". According to the song, he plays with it in school, and holds on to it in dangerous situations like falling after climbing the garden wall, and swimming across a creek infested with snapping turtles. From the second verse onward, the lyrics consistently exercise the double entendre in that a penis could just as easily be substituted for the toy bells and the song would still make sense.[3]

Critical reception[edit]

The lyrics with their sly tone and innuendo (and the enthusiasm of Berry and the audience) caused many radio stations to refuse to play it. British morality campaigner Mary Whitehouse tried unsuccessfully to get the song banned.[4] Whitehouse wrote to the BBC's Director General, claiming that "...one teacher told us of how she found a class of small boys with their trousers undone, singing the song and giving it the indecent interpretation which—in spite of all the hullabaloo—is so obvious ... We trust you will agree with us that it is no part of the function of the BBC to be the vehicle of songs which stimulate this kind of behaviour—indeed quite the reverse."[5]

In Icons of Rock, Scott Schinder calls the song "a sophomoric, double-entendre-laden ode to masturbation".[6] Robert Christgau remarked that the song "permitted a lot of twelve-year-olds new insight into the moribund concept of 'dirty'".[7]


For a re-run of American Top 40, some stations, such as WOGL in Philadelphia, replaced the song with an optional extra when it aired a rerun of a November 18, 1972 broadcast of AT40 (where it ranked at #14)[8] on December 6, 2008. Among other stations, most Clear Channel-owned radio stations to whom the AT40 1970s rebroadcasts were contracted did not air the rebroadcast that same weekend, although it was because they were playing Christmas music and not because of the controversy. Even back in 1972, some stations would refuse to play the song on AT40, even when it reached number one.

The controversy was lampooned in The Simpsons episode "Lisa's Pony", in which a Springfield Elementary School student attempts to sing the song during the school's talent show. He barely finishes the first line of the refrain before an irate Principal Skinner pushes him off the stage, angrily proclaiming "This act is over!"[9][10]



Region Certification Certified units/sales
United States (RIAA)[22] Gold 1,000,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.


  1. ^ "Chuck Berry Chart History". Billboard.com. Eldridge Industries. Retrieved January 23, 2018.
  2. ^ "Nuts to You". YouTube. Archived from the original on 2020-06-27.
  3. ^ Burke, Lucy; Crowley, Tony; Girvin, Alan (2000). The Routledge Language and Cultural Theory Reader. Psychology Press. p. 213. ISBN 978-0-415-18681-0.
  4. ^ Coleman, Sarah (February 2002). "Morals Campaigner Mary Whitehouse". World Press Review. Retrieved 13 May 2012.
  5. ^ Ben Thompson (ed.) Ban This Filth!: Letters from the Mary Whitehouse Archive, London: Faber, 2012 cited by "Ban This Filth!: Letters from the Mary Whitehouse Archive by Ben Thompson – review", The Guardian, 26 October 2012
  6. ^ Schinder, Scott (2008). Icons of Rock: An Encyclopedia of the Legends Who Changed Music Forever. Greenwood Press. p. 68. ISBN 978-0313338458. my ding a ling.
  7. ^ Christgau, Robert (1988). "Chuck Berry". In Anthony Decurtis; James Henke (eds.). The RollingStone : The Definitive History of the Most Important Artists and Their Music. New York: Random House. pp. 60–66. ISBN 0679737286.
  8. ^ "CASEY KASEM'S AMERICAN TOP 40 - 11/18/72". oldradioshows.com. Archived from the original on 2009-01-04. Retrieved 2008-11-21.
  9. ^ Jean, Al (2003). The Simpsons season 3 DVD commentary for the episode "Lisa's Pony" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
  10. ^ Reiss, Mike (2003). The Simpsons season 3 DVD commentary for the episode "Lisa's Pony" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
  11. ^ "RPM Top 100 Singles - October 21, 1972" (PDF).
  12. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Berry, Chuck – My Ding-a-Ling" (in German). GfK Entertainment charts. To see peak chart position, click "TITEL VON Berry, Chuck"
  13. ^ "Chuck Berry – My Ding-A-Ling" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  14. ^ "flavour of new zealand - search listener". Flavourofnz.co.nz. Retrieved 30 March 2019.
  15. ^ "Chuck Berry – My Ding-A-Ling". VG-lista.
  16. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  17. ^ a b "Chuck Berry: Charts & Awards – Billboard Singles". AllMusic. United States: Rovi Corporation. Retrieved March 28, 2011.
  18. ^ "Cash Box Top 100 10/28/72". Tropicalglen.com. Retrieved 30 March 2019.
  19. ^ 1972 in British music#Best-selling singles
  20. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1972/Top 100 Songs of 1972". Musicoutfitters.com. Retrieved 30 March 2019.
  21. ^ "Cash Box YE Pop Singles - 1972". Tropicalglen.com. Archived from the original on 28 September 2018. Retrieved 30 March 2019.
  22. ^ "American single certifications – Chuck Berry – Ding-a-Ling". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved July 8, 2024.


  • The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (5th edition), Billboard Books, 2003, ISBN 978-0823076772
  • Guterman, Jimmy and O'Donnell, Owen. The Worst Rock-and-Roll Records of All Time, New York: Citadel, 1991, ISBN 978-0806512310

External links[edit]