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Originally titled "Rock-In Robin," this was the only Top-40 hit for Bobby Day, whose sound was a hybrid of Pop and R&B. His innocent, upbeat songs were a great fit for Michael Jackson, who's 1972 recording of "Rockin' Robin" also went to #2 in the US. Also in 1972, Michael's group The Jackson Five went to #13 with Bobby Day's "Little Bitty Pretty One." Day's version of "Rockin' Robin" was a #1 R&B hit.
Bobby Day wrote this song with Leon René, a songwriter and record executive who also wrote "Little Bitty Pretty One" and "Over and Over" with Day. The songwriting credits get confusing, as René used pseudonyms. On "Rockin' Robin," he is credited as either Jimmy or Jesse Thomas. Day sometimes credited under his real name, the very appropriate Robert Byrd. Another name that sometimes shows up on the credits is Michael Mc Ginnis, which might be another name Day used.
Musicians on this track included Barney Kessel on guitar and Earl Palmer on drums. That famous piccolo part was played by Plas Johnson, who was better known as a saxophone player - he did the Pink Panther theme. These guys were some of the first call Los Angeles area studio musicians who played on hundreds of sessions and built a reputation for their skill and proficiency. Later on, musicians like Hal Blaine, Glen Campbell and Carol Kaye were added to mix.
The background singing was by Day's former group, the Hollywood Flames ("Buzz-Buzz-Buzz" in 1958), who decided to change their names to the Satellites just prior to recording this.
In the '60s and '70s, this was widely covered by many popular artists, including Chuck Berry, Gene Vincent, The Hollies, Cliff Richard and The Spinners. In 1980, the song was also featured on The Muppets, with their house band The Electric Mayhem performing it in a tree with some feathered friends.
The B-side of this single was a song called "Over And Over," which in 1965 became a US #1 hit for The Dave Clark Five
when they covered it.
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