Real Ugly Woman

Album: The Best of Jimmy Witherspoon (1951)
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Songfacts®:

  • This was the second song the songwriting team of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller got produced. The year was 1951, a mere month after their first sale, "That's What the Good Book Says." Leiber and Stoller gave the song to Jimmy Witherspoon, who loved it and promised to do it live. The performance was at a concert at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California. The concert was a Blues Jamboree put together by promoter Gene Norman, with artists including Wynonie Harris and Helen Humes. By sheer good luck, the concert was taped the night Witherspoon sang "Real Ugly Woman," and the tape was later made into a record.
  • Jimmy Witherspoon was just getting successful in his singing career at the time of this song. Riding high off his first hit, "Ain't Nobody's Business" in 1949, he had two more hits in 1950. These were "No Rollin' Blues" and "Big Fine Girl." Jimmy Witherspoon's singing style was that of a "blues shouter," a now outdated technique. Since it originated before the time of microphones, a singer had to be very loud to be heard over the band's instruments. Another notable blues shouter was Big Joe Turner, of whom songwriter (and Brill Building alumnus) Doc Pomus said, "Rock and roll would have never happened without him."

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