Sweet Georgia Brown

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"Sweet Georgia Brown"
Sweet Georgia Brown Tempo Lable Recorded by Brother Bones and His Shadows.PNG
Later recording by Brother Bones and His Shadows (1949)
Song by Ben Bernie
Written 1925
Released 1925 (1925)
Composer(s) Ben Bernie, Maceo Pinkard
Lyricist(s) Kenneth Casey

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

Reportedly Ben Bernie came up with the concept for the song's lyrics – although he is not the accredited lyricist – after meeting Dr. George Thaddeus Brown in New York City: Dr. Brown, a longtime member of the State House of Representatives for Georgia, told Bernie about Dr. Brown's daughter Georgia Brown and how subsequent to the baby girl's birth on August 11, 1911 the Georgia General Assembly had issued a declaration that she was to be named Georgia after the state, an anecdote which 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 Ben Bernie, resulting in a five-week number one for Ben Bernie and his Hotel Roosevelt Orchestra.[1]

One of the most popular versions 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.


  • Of the many early recordings of the tune, the vocal version by Ethel Waters in the 1920s, and instrumental version by Stéphane Grappelli and Django Reinhardt in the 1930s, are particularly notable. (Grappelli also recorded the song often during his later solo career and usually closed his concerts with it.) Ethel Waters also starred in the 1943 film Cabin in the Sky, in which Lena Horne plays a character named Georgia Brown.
  • Shortly after the song debuted in 1925, the California Ramblers recorded their own instrumental version of "Sweet Georgia Brown" as well.
  • Bing Crosby recorded the song on April 23, 1932 with Isham Jones and his Orchestra[2] and it is assessed as reaching the No. 2 spot in the charts of the day.[3]
  • Earl Hines and his orchestra recorded a big band version, arranged by bassist Quinn Wilson, on 12 September 1934.
  • Cab Calloway has recorded an abstracted version featuring mostly scat singing
  • Harry James recorded a version in 1939 on Brunswick 8327.
  • George Formby included a version on his "Swing it George" medley in 1939.
  • Ella Fitzgerald sang and recorded this song many times; a rendition can be found on her Verve release Whisper Not.
  • The version used by the Globetrotters is a 1949 instrumental by Brother Bones and His Shadows, featuring whistling and bones by Brother Bones. It was adopted as the Globetrotters theme around 1950, and today is inextricably associated with the team.
  • A notable performance of this song was that of Anita O'Day at the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival, captured in Bert Stern's film Jazz on a Summer's Day.[4]
  • Ray Charles on his 1961 album Dedicated to You.
  • Damita Jo recorded a version in 1961.
  • The song was covered by The Beatles while working as a backup band for singer Tony Sheridan. Two versions exist; the first was recorded on May 24, 1962 in Hamburg, Germany, using the original lyrics.[5] The second (but the first version released) was released in 1964 during the wave of Beatlemania, with Sheridan having re-recorded the vocals with notably more tame lyrics featuring the added verse "in Liverpool she even dares / to criticise the Beatles' hair / with their whole fan-club standing there / oh Sweet Georgia Brown." Recently, bootleggers have utilized the two recordings to produce an instrumental featuring only the Beatles' instruments and backup vocals, entirely eliminating Sheridan.[6] Roy Young played the piano.
  • Trini Lopez included a sing-a-long version on his Reprise Records album The Sing Along World of Trini Lopez (Reprise 6183).
  • Sergio Franchi recorded his version on the RCA Red Seal album Women in My Life (1963).
  • Nancy Sinatra recorded the song for her 1966 studio album Sugar.
  • Jerry Lee Lewis recorded a version on his album There Must Be More to Love Than This.
  • The progressive rock band Gentle Giant covered the song on their live album Playing the Fool, released in 1977.
  • Oscar Peterson, Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen, and Ray Brown performed the song live at the 1977 Montreux Jazz Festival.
  • In the 1983 remake of To Be or Not to Be, Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft, in character as Frederick and Anna Bronski, perform a version of the song in Polish.
  • On the Captain Beefheart bootleg album Captain Hook, an instrumental version, atypical of Beefheart's style.
  • In the musical Bubbling Brown Sugar which ran on Broadway from March 2, 1976, and closed on December 31, 1977, where it was sung by Vivian Reed.
  • The Count Basie Band recorded "Sweet Georgia Brown" on their Prime Time album in 1977.
  • Roberta Flack included a version in her 1994 Roberta album.
  • Dixie Carter once sang an inebriated version of "Sweet Georgia Brown" in an episode of Designing Women.
  • Guitarist John Lowery, better known as John 5, did a modern-bluegrass variation cover of "Sweet Georgia Brown" on his 2004 debut record, Vertigo.
  • Merle Haggard and Johnny Gimble recorded a country version on Gimble's album Celebrating With Friends in honor of Gimble's 80th birthday.
  • Mike Owings and Jacob Daniel Brown ; son of original singer for the southern rock band from Jacksonville,Florida Molly Hatchet form a southern rock band in Atlanta,Georgia in 2010 called Sweet Georgia Brown.
  • Nat King Cole and his original trio recorded an instrumental version in the late 1940s one evening after a concert at the Copacabana and later went Carlos Gastel in order to get it recorded.
  • Pierre Courbois wrote a song called "SEVEN" (in 7/4) on the "Sweet Georgia Brown" Chords (1990) and was playing and recording it with his Quintet.

In animated cartoons[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ CD liner notes: Chart-Toppers of the Twenties, 1998 ASV Ltd.
  2. ^ "A Bing Crosby Discography". BING magazine. International Club Crosby. Retrieved April 23, 2017. 
  3. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1986). Joel Whitburn's Pop Memories 1890-1954. Wisconsin, USA: Record Research Inc. p. 103. ISBN 0-89820-083-0. 
  4. ^ “” (November 23, 2006). "Anita O'Day". YouTube. Retrieved August 27, 2010. 
  5. ^ Craig Cross, Beatles-Discography.com, iUniverse, 2004, p. 46. ISBN 978-0-595-31487-4.
  6. ^ "Polydor NH 52-906". Dmbeatles.com. Retrieved August 27, 2010. 

External links[edit]