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Jambalaya (On the Bayou)


“Jambalaya (On the Bayou)” (backed with "Workin' on a Building") was the second single John Fogerty released as The Blue Ridge Rangers. The song was recorded at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley and engineered by Skip Shimmin and Russ Gary. Fogerty plays all the instruments by himself. The 45 RPM single was released in October 1972. It peaked at #16 in the USA, #5 in Canada, #9 in Belgium and #14 in the Netherlands and Sweden. The song also appears on The Blue Ridge Rangers album which came out in April 1973.

The song was officially written by Hank Williams. His version came out on July 19, 1952. Creedence Clearwater Revival already played the song in the hotel parties in 1971-1972 as Shit-Kicker 3. Tony Joe White liked the way Fogerty came in with "well, Jaambalie" and proposed John to cover the Hank Williams classic.  Fogerty wanted to capture a sound that reminded more the Bob Wills way, as opposed to Hank Williams style, which is more soft and low. (John Fogerty promotional interview, 1973.)

Collector's notes

The single was released with different cover sleeves in Belgium, Brazil, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Singapore, Spain and Sweden. The US release had no picture sleeve.

A soupcan and an armpatch promoting the "Jambalaya" single and the forthcoming Blue Ridge Rangers album were released in 1972-1973. (Peter Koers)

Live versions

John Fogerty performed "Jambalaya (On the Bayou)" live in a public concert for the first time at New Orleans Jazz Festival on April 24, 1998. He then played it regularly during the subsequent tours in 1998-2006. The frequency of plays started to decrease gradually in 2007-2008, and in 2009-2012 he only played the song three times. One of them took place in an unannounced performance at Tipitina's, New Orleans, on April 22, 2011. 

He also played "Jamabalaya" in a concert in Lucca, Italy, on July 26, 2011. It was broadcast live by Italian radio RAI. It's the one and only time Fogerty has played the song live on the radio or television. 

Critical reception

""You're The Reason" and "Jambalaya" are country & western rather than old timey, bluegrass or straight country. He plays them harder than the originals, especially the latter." -Jon Landau, The Rolling Stone, July 5th, 1973.

"It's good 'n' country, but ends up nothing more than a poor man's Creedence and that's no good. Is it?" -The Melody Maker, November 23rd, 1972. 

"We don't need a re-hash of this old rock 'n' roll number, ieven if it's given a country flavour by John fogerty. So we must offer credit for his bass, guitar, drum and piano work. Why pick on this song to show off his form?" -The New Musical Express, December 23rd, 1972. 

"He shows his prowess with a drum kit - Doug Clifford is hardly missed! He almost screams the chorus, to perfection." -Matt Loewen

"'Jambalaya' --- is played perfectly - not a guitar lick out of place, not a climactic point missed." -George Starostin.

Fans' views

"JCF's fine tribute to The Man, Hank Williams. JCF's live version of "Jambalaya" on 1998 Premonition Tour was absolutely great."

"He can make that ole Hank's song rock. Leaves ya speechless and stunned."

"It's joyous and contains lot of rootsy guitar playing."

"The best Hank Williams remake ever."

Thanks to Max.

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Written by Hank Williams.

Recorded at Studio C, Fantasy Studios, Berkeley, CA, USA, in 1972.

Appears on Jambalaya (On the Bayou) b/w Workin' on a Building single and The Blue Ridge Rangers album.

Released in October 1972 (single) and April 1973 (album).