Johnny Rivers’ songs have touched many people’s lives. He made it his goal to make people happy with his music. Some of his famous songs include “Swayin’ to the Music,” “Memphis Tennessee,” “I’ll Make Believe,” and “Poor Side of Town.”
Song “Memphis Tennessee”
The Johnny Rivers song “Memphis Tennessee” was a hit in 1964. It was a cover of Chuck Berry’s song of the same name. It also happened to be one of the best rock and roll songs of all time.
“Memphis” was a fairly simple guitar line, but it is a rousing tune. When Chuck Berry recorded it in St. Louis in 1958, it became a staple of rock bands of the late 50s and early 60s.
However, the version that came from Elvis Presley wasn’t exactly the same as the one that Rivers released in 1964. He thought it was a good idea to record it and release it as a single.
“Memphis” had a Beatle-like feel. In addition to Johnny Rivers, the song was covered by Dave Berry and the Cruisers, and AC/DC. There were even some Beatles versions of the song.
Another well-known version was done by the Allman Brothers Band. But the most popular and technically impressive version was recorded by the British group Aerosmith. They played the song with Philip Lynott on a center stage extension.
According to legend, this was the first time the song was performed in public. In fact, Johnny Rivers claimed that he had been playing “Memphis” for years as a struggling musician.
Elvis Presley had played an acetate of the song for Rivers. When he found out about the cover, he was either angry or gracious.
The most interesting part of this story is that Elvis never really got to see his buddy Rivers again. He barred him from his house. And Johnny Rivers continued to make money with songwriting and producing.
In fact, he had several hits in the 70s. Some of his more popular covers were the “Midnight Special,” a ditty written by Lead Belly and Norman Wilson. Other notable hits include “Summer Rain,” and “Swayin’ to the Music.”
Considering that “Memphis” was a well-received cover, it seems odd that Elvis would feel compelled to put his own version out. That said, Rivers had no trouble getting his song onto the Billboard charts in 1964, reaching number two.
Song “Poor Side”
“Poor Side of Town” was a number one hit for singer/guitarist Johnny Rivers in 1966. It is also a pretty good example of a sixties’ soul song. In addition to being a catchy tune, the lyrics are quite clever. The lyric about “a poor boy sandwich” is a bit of a stretch.
For a while, the song was released on Rivers’ Changes album. In the early 1970s, he started a band called Jimmy Rivers. He augmented it with Jim Gordon and Larry Knechtel. They later became The 5th Dimension.
While Rivers isn’t quite as prolific a songwriter as Elvis Presley, his oeuvre is still impressive. As a matter of fact, he’s had twenty-nine singles in the Billboard Hot 100 over a thirteen-year period. And he’s still touring. Whether he’s at Whiskey A Go-Go or at a swanky club in London, his music is as infectious as his personality.
It’s not the only record Rivers was proud of. He also had a few novelty songs that he was happy to see get a little airplay. One of the more entertaining was the ’70s rocker “Secret Agent Man.” But perhaps the best-known record is his cover of the Four Tops’ “Baby It’s You.” This was a rockabilly number that went to #3 in early 1967.
Other hits include “The Seventh Song,” “Rockin’ Pneumonia – Boogie Woogie Flu,” and “Summertime in the South.” These days, he’s a popular figure overseas as well. If he’s not on tour, he’s usually playing his Gibson ES-335.
“Poor Side of Town” is a fun little ditty that’s just as likely to be played in a lounge as it is on a dancefloor. And while the lyrics aren’t quite as edgy as his ’70s contemporaries, he does a decent job of making them work. When he’s not on tour, Rivers spends his free time promoting his singles through independent distributors. So, if you’re into blues, pop, or anything else, you should definitely check out this guy. Hopefully, he’ll be around for a long time. Until then, here’s a song you won’t forget. o.m.
Song “I’ll Make Believe”
The Johnny Rivers song “I’ll Make Believe” has been a cult hit for decades. It became the third million seller in the pop charts, and has been re-discovered many times on TV and radio.
In 1960, a teenaged Rivers met with the guitarist James Burton. They toured together for several months and then went on to record his first album. After the record, he changed his last name to Rivers.
A year later, Rivers was back in the studio with his former bandmate, Eddie Rubin, as a duo. By the early ’70s, he had developed a new group of artists for Soul City Records. These artists toured and recorded for a series of budget-priced albums that were distributed through mail-order companies.
Rivers eventually settled in Nashville. He remained there for twelve years. While there, he performed regularly and released several songs.
A couple of years later, he moved to Los Angeles. This was a move that paid off. His first single was a regional hit, and he was a member of Gazzarri’s nightclub in Hollywood. Soon he was working as a producer. Eventually, he formed his own record label and put on his own show.
At one point, he had four singles on the country-tinged singles chart. He was also featured on a British television series. But he began to doubt his singing career.
He thought that he was never going to be successful in the music business. In the late ’60s, he decided to concentrate on writing and producing. Although his style was influenced by the country music of the 1950s and 1960s, his songs strayed from the jukebox ballads of his era.
In addition to his writing, he produced a number of albums. Some of his most popular live tracks include Maybellene and the Mountain of Love.
He later teamed up with Ricky Nelson for a series of albums. The best-known of these is the Rick Is 21 album, in which “I’ll Make Believe” was included.
Jimmy Webb wrote a version of the song, which was popular and helped put him on the map as a composer. However, it didn’t go as far as Rivers’.
Song “Swayin’ to the Music”
The Johnny Rivers song “Swayin’ to the Music” is a very popular one. This song was written by Jack Tempchin and was recorded by Rivers, Ray Stevens, Lisa Hartman, and many others. It became a big hit in the US and Canada in 1979. In addition, this song is often heard in movie soundtracks. Originally titled “Slow Dancing,” this song was released in April 1977 as a single under the name “Slow Dancing.” When it was first released, Rivers recorded it for his own label, Soul City. However, when he later released his album, Hold On, the song was left off.
After “Slow Dancing” became a hit, it was covered by many artists. For example, in 2008, Gloria Loring recorded the song for her album A Playlist. Ian Gomm also recorded it for his 1980 album What a Blow. The Funky Kings had a minor hit with the song in 1976.
GIPHY App Key not set. Please check settings