Sweet Georgia Brown

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"Sweet Georgia Brown"
Brown, circular label of a 'Custome Made Record' Co. 33RPM platter showing the "Sweet Georgia Bown" title
1949 version record label
Brother Bones and His Shadows
Single by Ben Bernie and His Hotel Roosevelt Orchestra
B-side"Yearning Just For You"
PublishedMarch 20, 1925 (1925-03-20) Jerome H. Remick & co., New York[1]
ReleasedJune 1925 (1925-06)
RecordedMarch 19, 1925 (1925-03-19), take 575W[2]
Studio799 Seventh Avenue, Room no. 2, New York, New York City[2]
LabelVocalion 15002[3]
Songwriter(s)Ben Bernie, Maceo Pinkard, Kenneth Casey[2]
Producer(s)Arthur Lange, arranger
Performance by Ben Bernie and his orchestra from 1925
Performance by the Dixieland Band of the United States Army Field Band's Jazz Ambassadors from 2017

"Sweet Georgia Brown" is a jazz standard composed in 1925 by Ben Bernie and Maceo Pinkard, with lyrics by Kenneth Casey.


Reportedly, Bernie came up with the concept for the song's lyrics – although he is not the credited lyricist – after meeting Dr. George Thaddeus Brown in New York City. Dr. Brown, a longtime member of the Georgia House of Representatives, told Bernie about his daughter, Georgia Brown, and how subsequent to her birth on August 11, 1911, the Georgia General Assembly had issued a declaration that she was to be named Georgia after the state. This anecdote would be directly referenced by the song's lyric: "Georgia claimed her – Georgia named her".

The tune was first recorded on March 19, 1925, by bandleader Bernie, resulting in five weeks at number one for Ben Bernie and his Hotel Roosevelt Orchestra.[4]

One of the most popular versions[citation needed] of "Sweet Georgia Brown" was recorded in 1949 by Brother Bones and His Shadows and later adopted as the theme song of the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team in 1952.[citation needed]


Bing Crosby recorded the song on April 23, 1932, with Isham Jones and his Orchestra[5] and it is assessed as reaching No. 2 in the charts of the day.[6]

The version used by the Harlem Globetrotters is a 1949 instrumental by Brother Bones[7] and His Shadows with whistling and bones by Brother Bones. It was adopted as the Globetrotters theme in 1952.

Sheet music cover, 1925

Tony Sheridan recorded it in December 1961 with his studio backing group, The Beat Brothers, and it was issued on his 1962 album My Bonnie. He rerecorded the song in 1964 for his next album, A Little Bit of Tony Sheridan this time backed by The Bobby Patrick Big Six but still credited to The Beat Brothers.[8] The Beatles, with Roy Young, as a backup band recorded it again for Tony Sheridan on May 24, 1962, in Hamburg, Germany, using the original lyrics. This was released in Germany, on Sheridan's EP Ya Ya in 1962 [9] and in Greece as the b-side of the single Skinny Minny.[10] This recording was rereleased as a single in 1964 during the wave of Beatlemania with Sheridan having re-recorded the vocals with tamer lyrics and the additional verse: "In Liverpool she even dares/to criticize the Beatles' hair/With their whole fan-club standing there/oh Sweet Georgia Brown". This version can be heard on the German compilation album The Beatles' First! and its numerous reissues. The song was edited as a single for the American market with added guitar and drum parts.

Roberta Flack recorded "Sweet Georgia Brown" for her 1994 album Roberta: as Flack feared the song might be perceived as demeaning to women her version featured newly-added lyrics - written by Flack with her producers Jerry Barnes and Katreese Barnes - meant to establish Georgia Brown as (Roberta Flack quote:) "a strong woman who is gorgeous, sexy, strong and intelligent" rather than a pass-around girl.[11] "Sweet Georgia Brown" has become a staple of Flack's live shows, the singer having stated that the lyric changes "cost me $25,000 so I sing [the song] whenever I have the chance."[12]

Other recordings[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Catalog of Copyright Entries, 1925 Musical Compositions For the Year 1925 New Series Vol 20 Part 3. Library of Congress. Copyright Office. 1925.
  2. ^ a b c "Brunswick matrix 573W-576W. Sweet Georgia Brown / Ben Bernie ; Hotel Roosevelt Orchestra -". Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved March 24, 2022.
  3. ^ "Vocalion (USA) 78rpm numerical listing discography: 15000 - 15499". 78 Discography. Retrieved March 24, 2022.
  4. ^ CD liner notes: Chart-Toppers of the Twenties, 1998 ASV Ltd.
  5. ^ "A Bing Crosby Discography". Bing magazine. International Club Crosby. Retrieved April 23, 2017.
  6. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1986). Joel Whitburn's Pop Memories 1890-1954. Wisconsin, US: Record Research Inc. p. 103. ISBN 0-89820-083-0.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Gioia, Ted (2012). The Jazz Standards: A Guide to the Repertoire. New York City: Oxford University Press. p. 415. ISBN 978-0-19-993739-4.
  8. ^ "The Bobby Patrick Big Six".
  9. ^ "Sweet Georgia Brown". October 12, 2017.
  10. ^ "Tony Sheridan and the Beat Brothers – Ya Ya Part 1 (1963, Vinyl)". Discogs.
  11. ^ Craig Rosen (August 27, 1994). "Roberta Flack Celebrates 25 Years on Atlantic". Billboard. 106 (35): 12, 125.
  12. ^ Donna Larcen (July 17, 1998). "Flack Soothes With Her Songs". Hartford Courant. p. A4.
  13. ^ Matt Dennis (May 26, 1956). "Gale Storm Gains New Fame as Singing Star". Windsor Star. p. 9.
  14. ^ "The Return of the 5000 Lb. Man, Allmusic Review". AllMusic.