Poor Side Of Town

Album: Greatest Hits (1966)
Charted: 1
  • songfacts ®
  • Lyrics
  • This is Johnny Rivers' only American chart topper. He co-wrote it with Lou Adler. Marty Paich, who arranged for Mel Torme and Ray Charles, did the string arrangement.
  • Johnny Rivers: "I had this tune I'd been working on, and I kept playing it for Lou. It took me about 6 months to finish. We cut it with Larry Knechtel, Joe Osborn and Hal Blaine. I did my vocal performances live with the band. I sat and played my guitar and sang. There weren't any overdubs. So we said it could use some singers and maybe some strings. That's the time we got together with (arranger) Marty Paich."
  • This was a change of direction for Johnny Rivers, who had tired of the upbeat Go-Go sound that provided him with his early hits. However, he found his record company reluctant to tamper with a winning formula. He recalls, "Al Bennett and those guys were goin' Man. don't start comin' out with ballads. You're gonna kill your career. You got a good thing goin' with this funky trio rock sound, stay with that." (above 2 courtesy: Quotes from www.johnnyrivers.com)
  • This was covered by Eels on his 2006 live album Eels With Strings: Live At Town Hall. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Edward Pearce - Ashford, Kent, England, for all above
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Comments: 9

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn February 8, 1969, a video of Al Wilson performed his covered version of "The Poor Side of Town" was aired on the Dick Clark ABC-TV Saturday-afternoon program, 'American Bandstand'...
    At the time the song was at #82 on Billboard's Top 100 chart, the two previous weeks it was at #75, that was also it's peak position on the chart, and it spent four weeks on the Top 100...
    Johnny Rivers' original version of "The Poor Side of Town" peaked at #1 {for 1 week} on November 6th, 1966...
    Country singer Joe Stampley covered the song in 1983, his version peaked at #12 on Billboard's Hot Country Singles chart...
    Between 1968 and 1976 Al Wilson had eight records on the Top 100 chart, one made the Top 10, "Show and Tell", it peaked at #1 {for 1 week} on January 13th, 1974...
    Mr. Wilson, born Allen LaMar Wilson, passed away at the age of 68 on April 21st, 2008...
    May he R.I.P.
  • Doug from MaineThe background vocals were by The Blossoms: Darlene Love, Fanita James, and Jean King. The only one of the three (so far) with her own Wikipedia page is Darlene Love, who is also an actress. She played Det. Roger Murtaugh's (Danny Glover) wife in the "Lethal Weapon" series with Mel Gibson.
    "Poor Side of Town" is probably my favorite Johnny Rivers song. Great little guitar riff at the end of the verses. I gotta learn that one.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn August 27th 1966, Johnny Rivers performed "Poor Side of Town" on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
    Two weeks later on September 11th, 1966 it entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #90; and on November 6th, 1966 it peaked at #1 {for 1 week} and spent 15 weeks on the Top 100...
    And on November 21st, 1966 it reached #1 {for 1 week} on the Canadian RPM 100 Singles chart...
    It was the song that replaced the Monkees' "Last Train to Clarksville" at the top of the Top 100 chart...
    Between 1964 and 1978 he had twenty-nine Top 100 records; nine made the Top 10, his next biggest hit was his debut record, "Memphis", it peaked at #2 {for 2 weeks} on July 5th, 1964...
    In 1969 Al Wilson covered “Poor Side of Town”; his version stayed on the Top 100 for 4 weeks, peaking at #75…
    Mr. Rivers, born John Henry Ramistella, will celebrated his 72nd birthday in three months on November 7th {2014}.
  • Susan from Atlanta, GaI wish more Johnny Rivers songs were features on this site, such as "Summer Rain" and "Rockin' Pneumonia" and "Baby I Need Your Lovin'".
    I was a fan of both Johnny Rivers and Jimmy Webb long before I ever knew of their connection to one another. I have always felt sad that Johnny never released any Jimmy Webb songs as singles, and until seeing Matthew's comments, I wasn't even aware he had ever recorded any of them. Must go check them out. (Thanks, Matthew.)
  • Matthew from Toronto, OnThe only hit song composed by Rivers himself, as far as I know. Gorgeous arrangement, wistful lyrics, great vocal performance by Rivers who sings each and every word ever so clearly. A tremendous one-time effort; too bad he couldn't follow it up with another personal compostion. Stylistically, his arrangement of "Baby I Need Your Lovin'," which comes right after, was very much in the same vein. Rivers turned to Jimmy Webb for material down the line, and recorded several titles, but surprisingly never released any of them as singles.
  • Ricky from Newport Beach, CaJust a great song. Professionally arranged! Marty Paich clearly had the touch. The harmony of the strings and vocals is marvelous...it takes you directly to the love the singer has for the girl and represents her feelings. Always loved this song...very emotional.
  • Wayne from Salem, VaI'm 48 and soon to be 49. I love oldies from my youth. And Johnny Rivers did some good ones. If this song doesn't take you back to the 1960's. Then I don't know what will. A very good song.
  • Mrcleaveland from Cleveland,Gorgeous background harmonies.
  • Ian from Chicago, IlGreat song. One of my all time favorites! Very emotional. It takes me back everytime.
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