Shake Your Moneymaker (song)

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"Shake Your Moneymaker"
Shake Your Moneymaker single cover.jpg
Single by Elmore James
A-side"Look on Yonder Wall"
ReleasedDecember 1961 (1961-12)
Format7-inch 45 rpm record
RecordedJune–September 1961
StudioJ&M Studios, New Orleans, Louisiana
Songwriter(s)Elmore James
Producer(s)Bobby Robinson
Elmore James singles chronology
"Done Somebody Wrong"
"Shake Your Moneymaker"
"Stranger Blues"

"Shake Your Moneymaker" or "Shake Your Money Maker" is a song recorded by Elmore James in 1961 that has become a blues standard.[1] Inspired by earlier songs, it has been interpreted and recorded by several blues and other artists. "Shake Your Moneymaker" is included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's list of the "500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll".[2]

Earlier songs[edit]

In 1958, Chicago blues singer and harmonica player Shakey Jake Harris recorded "Roll Your Moneymaker" with a band including Magic Sam on guitar and Willie Dixon on bass.[3] The song, a twelve-bar blues with breaks, featured the chorus "roll your moneymaker". Elmore James biographer Steve Franz notes, "Chicago blues lore [has it that] drummer/vocalist James Bannister was the author of a tune known as 'Roll Your Moneymaker', but never recorded it" (Bannister had played with J. T. Brown and Magic Sam).[4] He adds that the rhythm guitar figure in James' "Shake Your Moneymaker" was inspired by "Got the Blues Can't Be Satisfied", recorded by Mississippi John Hurt in 1928.[5][4]

Blues historian Gerard Herzhaft suggests that "Shake Your Moneymaker" is a variation on songs that have been traced back to Charlie Patton (1929 "Shake It and Break It"[6]) and Bukka White (1937 "Shake 'Em on Down"[7]).[1] However, the song has been also identified as an Elmore James "original".[8]

Elmore James song[edit]

"Shake Your Moneymaker" is an up-tempo twelve-bar blues featuring slide guitar. James frequently repeats the phrase "shake your money maker" throughout the song, but provides little context for the lyric. Just as "rock and roll" was once a musical euphemism for sex, so "moneymaker" was a euphemism for a woman's sexual parts; and the song is a pimp's exhortation to a woman to go out and earn some money "on the game".[citation needed]

The tune became one of James' most well-known songs and a popular dance number. Activist and author James Meredith described witnessing James "working the crowd into a frenzy at Mr. P's, a humble Mississippi juke joint" with the song.[9] Franz adds "Sometimes the band would play it for thirty minutes or longer without stopping, and the crowd would continue to beg for more when it was over".[4]

James recorded the song at Cosimo Matassa's J&M Studios in New Orleans, Louisiana during a "candlelight" or non-union session in the summer of 1961.[4] According to drummer and harp player Sam Myers, James was having problems with the union, so the session took place at night with the lights dimmed so as not to attract the attention of the musician's local.[4] James had assembled a Mississippi version of his backing band, the Broomdusters, for the recordings: Johnny "Big Moose" Walker on piano, Sammy Lee Bully on bass, and King Mose Taylor on drums. After one false start, the second take provided the master used for the single. Although several songs were recorded during the session, only "Shake Your Moneymaker", together with "Look on Yonder Wall", was released at the time.

Recordings by other artists[edit]

"Shake Your Moneymaker" is included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's list of the "500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll".[10] A number of artists have recorded the song:[11]

In addition, the 2006 Ludacris dirty rap song "Money Maker" uses the refrain "shake your money maker".


  1. ^ a b Herzhaft, Gerard (1992). "Shake Your Moneymaker". Encyclopedia of the Blues. Fayetteville, Arkansas: University of Arkansas Press. p. 470. ISBN 1-55728-252-8.
  2. ^ "500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll". Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. 1995. Archived from the original on 2007-05-02. Retrieved March 4, 2011.
  3. ^ Artistic Records 1502
  4. ^ a b c d e Franz, Steve (2003). The Amazing Secret History of Elmore James. Walsworth Publishing. pp. 115–17. ISBN 0-9718038-1-1.
  5. ^ OKeh Records 8724
  6. ^ Paramount Records 12869
  7. ^ Vocalion Records 03711
  8. ^ Morris, Chris; Haig, Diana (1992). Elmore James: King of the Slide Guitar (Box set booklet). Elmore James. Nashville, Tennessee: Capricorn Records. p. 13. 9 42006–2.
  9. ^ Gioia, Ted (2008). Delta Blues (Norton Paperback 2009 ed.). New York City: W. W. Norton. p. 314. ISBN 978-0-393-33750-1.
  10. ^ "500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll". Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. 1995. Archived from the original on 2007-05-02. Retrieved March 4, 2011.
  11. ^ "Song search results for Shake Your Moneymaker". AllMusic. Retrieved December 28, 2015.
  12. ^ Butterfield's version provided Doors guitarist Robby Krieger with the idea for the riff of the band's song "Break On Through (To the Other Side)"."The Story of "Break on Through" by The Doors". YouTube. 2009-06-27. Retrieved 2015-11-23.
  13. ^ "Jackhammer Blues - Rick Derringer | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. 2000-05-09. Retrieved 2015-11-23.