White Lightning (George Jones song)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
"White Lightning"
Single by George Jones
from the album White Lightning and Other Favorites
B-side "Window Up Above"
Released February 9, 1959
Genre Rock and roll, rockabilly, country
Length 2:48
Label Mercury
Writer(s) J. P. Richardson
George Jones singles chronology
"If I Don't Love You (Grits Ain't Groceries)"
"White Lightning"
"Who Shot Sam"

"White Lightning" is a song written by the rockabilly artist J. P. Richardson, best known by his stage name, The Big Bopper. The song was recorded by American country music artist George Jones and released as a single in February 1959. On April 13, 1959, Jones' version was the first Number One single of his career. The song has since been covered by numerous artists.


In his 1997 autobiography, I Lived To Tell It All, Jones mentions the fact that the recording process of "White Lightning" was rather extremely lengthy and further elaborates on why it lasted so long. Jones arrived for the recording session under the influence of a great deal of alcohol and it took him approximately 80 takes just to record his vocals to the record producer's satisfaction. This is probably understandable since his life-long friend the Big Bopper – whose song he was recording – had been killed during the preceding week on "the day the music died". To make matters worse, Buddy Killen, who played the upright bass on the recording, was reported as having severely blistered fingers from having to play his bass part 80 times. Killen not only threatened to quit the session, but also threatened to physically harm Jones for the painful consequences of Jones' drinking.[1]


Jones' version of "White Lightning" was then released as a single, and reached Number One in April 1959, two months after the songwriter, rockabilly artist J. P. Richardson, was killed in the tragic plane crash along with fellow rockabilly artists Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens.

Cover versions[edit]

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1959) Peak
U.S. Billboard Hot C&W Sides[2] 1
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 73
Preceded by
"When It's Springtime in Alaska (It's Forty Below)"
by Johnny Horton
Billboard Hot C&W Sides
number one single

April 13-May 11, 1959
Succeeded by
"The Battle of New Orleans"
by Johnny Horton


  1. ^ Jones, George (1997). I Lived To Tell It All. Dell, Inc. 
  2. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book Of Top 40 Country Hits: 1944-2006, Second edition. Record Research. p. 179. 

External links[edit]