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Kansas City by Wilbert Harrison

Kansas City song performed by Wilbert Harrison, a rock and roll hit in 1959

R&B

Here is one of the great early rock and roll hits, the Kansas City song. It was written in 1952 by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller and was originally titled “K.C. Lovin.” Little Willie Littlefield recorded it in 1952, and there have been hundreds of covers and recordings, but Wilbert Harrison’s version in 1959 was #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. It sold more than one million copies and earned in RIAA gold record. Soon after Harrison’s release, there were versions by Hank Ballard & The Midnighters, Rockin’ Ronald & The Rebels, and Little Richard (in a medley). Other notable versions are by The Beatles, James Brown, Fats Domino, Bill Haley & His Comets, Brenda Lee, Peggy Lee, Trini Lopez, Muddy Waters, Tom Jones, Jay and The Americans, The Everly Brothers, Dean Reed, and Sammy Davis, Jr., just to name a few. The list of those who didn’t play or record the Kansas City song is probably shorter. It was the recording of by Harrison that was given a Grammy Hall of Fame Award and is on the list of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s “500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.”
Harrison was born in Charlotte, North Carolina, and was an R&B singer, pianist, guitarist, and harmonica player. Harrison recorded on Bobby Robinson’s Fire and Fury record labels and performed for many years. In 1970, he had charting success with “Let’s Work Together (Part 1)” and “My Heart is Yours.” Robinson was an independent record producer, who founded a number of record labels, and worked such artists as The Shirelles, Gladys Knight & The Pips, Dave “Baby” Cortez, Elmore James, King Curtis, and Lee Dorsey, just to name a few.

The lyrics are fun, as the singer feels he needs to go urgently to Kansas City to find a new girlfriend. Now, as to the type of girlfriend he’s looking for, we’ll leave that up to your imagination:

“Goin’ to Kansas City, Kansas City here I come
Goin’ to Kansas City, Kansas City here I come
They got some crazy lil’ women there and I’m gonna get me one

I’m gonna be stand on the corner, 12th street & Vine
Gonna be stand on the corner, 12th street & Vine
With my Kansas City baby and a bottle o’ Kansas City wine
Well I might take a train, I might take a plane
But I have to walk…I’m goin’ just the same
Goin’ to Kansas City, Kansas City here I come
They got some crazy lil’ women there and I’m gonna get me one

…Ah but ya know ya…

Now if I stay with that woman, I know I’m gonna die
Gotta find a brand new baby…that’s the reason why
I’m goin’ to Kansas City, Kansas City here I come

They got some crazy lil’ women there and I’m gonna get me one
They got some crazy lil’ women there and I’m gonna get me one
They got some crazy lil’ women there and I’m gonna get me one”

For More Golden Oldies Music

The Daily Doo Wop Rec Room has daily featured doo wop music, rock and roll hits, R&B, or rockabilly songs that were hits during the first era of rock and roll (that is, from about 1952 until the British invasion in 1964). After a song is featured, it then goes into the juke box. You are welcome to listen to any of the 40+ selections there. Every weekend, there is a Golden Oldies Juke Box Saturday Night, and the juke box is full of song requests from the 1950s and 1960s.

Please click here for the Daily Doo Wop YouTube channel, to which you can subscribe. Thank you for stopping by The Daily Doo Wop. Hope you enjoyed “Kansas City” by Wilbert Harrison

1 Comment

  1. Seth Peterson says:

    Great song. I remember dancing to it back in the day. Keep those golden oldies coming!

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