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The Robins Riot in Cell Block No 9

The Robins Riot in Cell Block No 9

R&B

This is one of the doo wop era’s story songs. It’s July 2, 1953, and a prisoner serving time for armed robbery wakes up to a riot among the inmates. It spreads from cell block to cell block, with threats, dynamite, and tear gas. It all ends on July 4, with no Independence Day for the prisoners. “Riot in Cell Block #9,” which was written by famous team of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller and sung by The Robins. It is a classic recording from 1954 and went to #1 on the R&B Chart. Numerous artists have covered the song, including versions by The Grateful Dead, The Beach Boys, Johnny Winter, Dr. Feelgood, The Blues Brothers, Johnny Cash, and, not surprisingly, The Coasters.

The Robins, who were from Los Angeles, influenced musicians in many genres, including R&B and doo-wop. In the initial group were Ty Terrell, Billy Richards, Roy Richards, and Bobby Nunn. Carl Gardner and Grady Chapman joined them in 1954. Then, in 1956, Garner and Nunn left to go to New York and helped to form The Coasters. There were a number of “bird groups” at the time besides The Robins, including The Orioles, The Ravens, The Crows, The Flamingos, The Wrens, The Falcons, and The Penguins.

Here are the lyrics to “Riot in Cell Block #9” by The Robins.

On July the second, 1953
I was servin’ time for armed robbery
At four o’clock in the mornin’, I was sleepin’ in my cell
I heard the whistle blow then I heard somebody yell

Up in cellblock number nine

The trouble started down in cellblock number four
And spread like fire across the prison floor
I said, “okay boys, get ready to run
Here come the warden with a tommy gun”

Up in cellblock number nine

The warden said, “come out with your hands up in the air
If you don’t stop this riot, you’re all gonna get the chair”
Scarface Jones…

The warden said, “come out with your hands up in the air
If you don’t stop this riot, you’re all gonna get the chair”
Scarface Jones said, “it’s too late to quit
Pass the dynamite ’cause the fuse is lit”

Up in cellblock number nine

In the forty-seventh hour the tear gas got our men
We are all back in our cells but every now and then

Up in cellblock number nine

For another song by The Robins: “Smokey Joe’s Café.

For More Golden Oldies Music

The Daily Doo Wop Rec Room has daily featured doo wop, rock and roll, 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 “Riot in Cell Block No 9” by The Robins.

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2 Comments

  1. […] For another song by The Robins: “Riot in Cell Block No 9.” […]

  2. […] For another song by The Robins: “Riot in Cell Block No 9.” […]

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