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This was originally recorded by Shorty Long in 1964 as "Devil With The Blue Dress." Long was signed to a Motown label that specialized in Soul recordings, and this was his first single on the label. Long wrote the song with Motown producer Mickey Stevenson. Long's version was kind of Bluesy and didn't have the typical Motown sound. Unfortunately for Long, it failed to chart and his only hit was the 1968 novelty song "Here Comes The Judge." Long died in a boating accident in 1969 at age 29.
The song describes a particularly attractive woman who is highly accessorized and has caught the eye of the singer.
The "Fe Fe Fi Fi Fo Fo Fum" refrain is based on the fairy tale Jack And The Beanstalk, where the giant says, "Fe Fi Fo Fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman."
Mitch Ryder's version was a medley with "Good Golly Miss Molly
," and was much faster than Long's original. Ryder, who was a white Soul singer from Detroit (one of the few places where Long's original version got some airplay), also had a hit with "Jenny Take A Ride," which was a combination of Little Richard's "Jenny Jenny" and the classic Blues song "C.C. Rider
Ryder attributes the success of this song to the band's efforts to create a live sound which captured a lot of energy. A big fan was Bruce Springsteen, who later did his own medley of "Devil With A Blue Dress"/"Good Golly Miss Molly."
According to Ryder, he was born William Levise Jr., and his band was originally called The Rivieras. It was a name conflict with the group of "California Sun
" fame, so Ryder found a new name flipping through a Manhattan phone book - he became "Mitch Ryder" and his band was "The Detroit Wheels." Their success in America was short lived, but they retained a big following in Germany, where they could do 2 1/2 hour sets without even playing their American hits.
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