Rockin' Robin

Album: Rockin' Robin (1958)
Charted: 29 2
  • songfacts ®
  • Lyrics
  • 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.
  • This song was written by 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. Bobby Day is also sometimes credited as a co-writer on the song 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.

    "We sort of had a little deal on this song," Day explained. He says that René pitched him the song, and Day recorded it using the musician from his former group, the Hollywood Flames. That group had a #11 hit with "Buzz-Buzz-Buzz" earlier in 1958. The changed their names to the Satellites just prior to recording "Rockin' Robin."
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • For songwriters, this one is a case study on compact choruses and vocal hooks. The song runs just 2:33, but packs in four choruses, each of which is followed by the vocal hook - the "tweedly deedly dee... tweet, tweet" part that also starts the song. The instrumentation varies throughout, which keeps those choruses from getting too repetitive. Also the verses are really pre-chorus lines ("He rocks in the treetop..."), so the song never slows down.
  • 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.
  • This was featured in the 1986 film Stand By Me, starring Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, and Jerry O'Connell.
  • Along with "Little Bitty Pretty One," this song is in the public domain, since the copyright was not renewed. This is rare, since income-generating copyrights are usually monitored closely by the publishers who own them - often corporations that have acquired the rights. This means you can perform "Rockin' Robin," use it in your movie, create a karaoke version, or put it in a commercial and not have to pay royalties as long as you created an original recording.
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Comments: 9

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn this day in 1958 {October 20th} Billboard Magazine posted it's first 'Hot R&B Sides' chart...
    And the first number record on the chart was "Rockin'- Robin" by Bobby Day...
    And the rest of the Top 10:
    At #2. "Tears On My Pillow" by Little Anthony and the Imperials
    #3. "It's All In The Game" by Tommy Edwards
    #4. "Win Your Love For Me" by Sam Cooke
    #5. "Topsy II" by Cozy Cole
    #6. "Down The Aisle Of Love" by The Quin-Tones
    #7. "Hold It" by Bill Doggett
    #8. "It Don't Hurt Anymore" by Nappy Brown
    #9. "The Ten Commandments of Love" by Harvey and the Moon Glows
    #10. "I'm Gonna Get My Baby" by Jimmy Reed
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn August 9, 1958, Bobby Day performed "Rock-In Robin" on the ABC-TV program 'Dick Clark' s Saturday Night Beech-Nut Show'...
    At the time the song was in it's first week on Billboard's Top 100 chart at position #35, a little over nine weeks later it would peak at #2* {for 2 weeks} and it spent 21 weeks on the Top 100...
    And on the same 'Beech-Nut' show he also performed the record's B-side, "Over and Over", it also made the Top 100, peaked at #41 on August 25th and stayed on the chart for 11 weeks...
    He had four other Top 100 records; "Little Bitty Pretty One" {#57 in 1957}, "The Bluebird, The Buzzard, and The Oriole" {#54 in 1959}, "That's All I Want" {#98 in 1959}, and "Gotta New Girl" {#82 in 1959}...
    Mr. Day, born Robert James Byrd, passed away at the age of 60 on July 27th, 1990...
    May he R.I.P.
    *The two weeks that "Rock-In Robin" was at #2, the #1 record for both those weeks was "It's All In The Game" by Tommy Edwards.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn January 7th 1958, the Hollywood Frames performed "Buzz-Buzz-Buzz" on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
    At the time the song was at #14 on Billboard's Top 100 chart; and five days later on January 12th, 1958 it peaked at #11 {for 1 week} and spent 17 weeks on the Top 100...
    It also reached #11 {for 1 week} on Billboard's R&B Best Sellers chart...
    Lead singer Bobby Day, as a solo artist, would entered the Top 100 later in 1958 with "Rock-In' Robin"*; it would peak at #2 {for 2 weeks}...
    {See below posts}
    * This is the way Billboard spelled the title of the song in their magazine.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyConcerning the next post below; the two weeks that Bobby Day's "Rockin' Robin" was at #2 on the Top 100, the #1 record for both those weeks was "It's All in the Game" by Tommy Edwards...
    And for Michael Jackson's two week stay at #2, the #1 record for both those weeks was "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" by Roberta Flack...
    On the R&B Singles chart; Michael was at #2 for one week; and the #1 record for that week was "In the Rain" by the Dramatics.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn December 18th, 1958 Bobby Day performed "Rockin' Robin" on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
    Four months earlier on Aug. 4th it entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; it peaked at #2 (for 2 weeks) & spent 21 weeks on the Top 100...
    And on October 13th, 1958 it reached #1 (for 2 weeks) on Billboard's Hot R&B Singles chart...
    Michael Jackson covered it in 1972 as "Rock-in Robin"; he peaked at #2 on both the Top 100 & R&B charts...
    In 1964 the Rivieras released their version, they peaked at #96...
    Mr. Day also performed "The Bluebird, The Buzzard, and The Oriole" on 'AB' that day; it reached #54 on the Top 100...
    RIP Mr. Day (1930-1990) & Mr. Jackson (1958-2009).
  • Keith from Patterson, LaRockin Robin was not written by Bobby Day, Bobby purchased the song from Ray King who was the writter. Ray King and the Kingmen (Rock a Billy Hall of Fame) Ray sold him the song and Bobby had the rights, but he was not the writer.
  • Steve Dotstar from Los Angeles, CaThis chick about drove me nuts playing this original record on a jukebox over and over
    in a retro's 50's joint. she worked there as a waitress!
  • Frank from Valley Stream, NyI think he should've used his real name on the
    label of this 45. Bobby Day's real name was
    Robert Byrd. Get it Robin - Byrd.
  • Jon from Oakridge, OrDay's version is the best.
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