Work with Me, Annie

Album: Work with Me, Annie (1954)

Songfacts®:

  • Recognized by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of the "500 songs that shaped Rock and Roll," this can be considered one of the first Rock songs, with a big bass beat, driving electric guitar and sexually suggestive lyrics. The band was known as The Royales when they wrote it, but changed their name when the song was released to avoid confusion with a Doo Wop group called The 5 Royales.
  • The band had an R&B hit with a song called "Get It," with gave them the idea of using "Work With Me" in a song. "Annie" sings very well, and made for a great title. So good, that she showed up on later songs "Annie Had A Baby" and "Annies's Aunt Fanny."
  • It's not always easy to tell if a song is about dancing or sex, and that's the case with this song. It was a handy device that showed up over and over in Rock history. Hank Ballard went on to write perhaps the most famous dancing song ever recorded: "The Twist."
  • In 1955, Etta James recorded "Roll With Me Henry," which was an answer song using the same melody. Her version was also released with the sanitized title "The Wallflower," and Georgia Gibbs reworked it as "Dance With Me Henry." Hank Ballard & the Midnighters then released an answer song to the answer song called "Henry's Got Flat Feet (Can't Dance No More)."
  • The "Annie" lyrics were extremely sexually explicit for the period. Such lines as "Annie, please don't cheat, give me all my meat," caused some factions of the recording industry to call for R&B to be banned all together. Peter Potter, host of CBS's Juke Box Jury said, "All R&B records are dirty and as bad for kids as dope."
    Because the record was in such demand and received so much publicity, attempts to restrict it failed and instead it crossed over to become a favorite with white teenagers and shot to #1 on the Billboard R&B charts staying at the peak position for 7 weeks.

Comments: 5

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn May 13th 1961, Hank Ballard and the Midnighters appeared at the Keil Auditorium in St. Louis, Missouri...
    At the time the group's song "The Continental Walk" was at #35 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; the following week it would peak at #33 {for 1 week} and it spent 8 weeks on the Top 100...
    It reached #12 on Billboard's R&B Singles chart...
    Between 1953 and 1969 the group had twenty-two songs on Billboard's R&B Singles chart; fourteen made the Top 10 with three reaching #1; "Work With Me, Annie" in 1954, "Annie Had a Baby" in 1954, and "Let's Go, Let's Go, Let's Go" in 1960...
    They just missed having five #1 records when "Sexy Ways" in 1954 and "Finger Poppin' Time" in 1960 both peaked at #2 on the R&B Singles chart...
    Hank Ballard, born John Henry Kendricks, passed away on March 2nd, 2003 at the age of 75...
    May he R.I.P.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn March 4th 2003 at a concert at the Jacksonville Coliseum in Jacksonville, FL Bruce Springsteen performed "Let's Go, Let's Go, Let's Go"*...
    He dedicated it to Hank Ballard, who had passed away two days earlier on March 2nd, 2003 at the age of 75...
    *Hank's original version entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart on Sept. 19th, 1960; and on Nov. 21st, 1960 it peaked at #6 {for 1 week} and spent 16 weeks on the Top 100...
    And on Nov. 7th, 1960 it reached #1 {for 1 week} on Billboard's R&B Singles chart...
    May Mr. Ballard, born John Henry Kendricks, R.I.P.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn September 19th 1960, "Let's Go, Let's Go, Let's Go" by Hank Ballard and the Midnighters entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #87; at the time Hank & the boys had two other records on the Top 100, "The Twist" at #28 and "Finger Poppin' Time" was at #19...
    As a result they became the first group to have three records on the Top 100 all at the same...
    And at the time the #1 record was a covered version of "The Twist" by Chubby Checker...
    R.I.P. Mr. Ballard, born John Henry Kendricks, {1927 - 2003}.
  • Nick from London, United KingdomThe Midnighters - Work With Me Annie
    (Ballard)
    Hank Ballard (b. Al 1927-2003)
    Recorded in Cincinnati Jan 1954 - Federal 12169 (Billboard R&B #1)
    The Royals were a Detroit-based group with a repertoire consisting predominantly of ballads like their original version of the Gladys Knight & the Pips hit Every Beat Of My Heart. Lead vocalist Hank Ballard (John Kendricks) came up with a racy little number titled Get It which squeezed into the top ten in August 1953 and from then on they would record mainly in the uptempo style with a new name, the Midnighters. Federal's A&R head, Ralph Bass had an idea for a song with the hook 'work with me' and he and Hank worked up lyrics that left nothing to the imagination. Very little risqué stuff ever got any radio play but despite this, Work With Me Annie managed to hit the top spot in February 1954 merely through jukebox sales. What's more it leaped over into the pop charts and created an almighty stir in the process, even more so than the Crows' Gee, which was out at the same time. Nobody in the music business batted an eyelid about off-colour lyrics until white teenagers started buying black music in their droves. A campaign was started by New York DJs to get 'dirty' records off the airwaves which largely achieved its objective. 1954 was the peak year for risqué R&B but the future was very much Moon in June. (Celebrated R&B commentator Marv Goldberg credits Work With Me Annie as having more to do with introducing white teenagers to R&B than any other song.)
  • John from Nashville, Tn"Work With Me Annie" was banned by some radio stations in the US due to its sexual content. "Work" was ghetto slang for sexual intercourse. When somebody was asked "Did you get any work last night?", it didn't mean that he or she worked in a fast food joint at night.
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