Saturday Night Fish Fry

Album: Let The Good Times Roll (1949)
Charted: 21


  • Fish fries - open parties with lots of food, drink, music and revelry - were a New Orleans tradition in the black community. On Saturday nights, a red kerosene lamp would indicate which houses were hosting.

    In this song, Louis Jordan sings about hitting up a particularly festive fish fry on Rampart Street, where everyone is dancing and having a good time to the sounds of a grand piano. But then the place gets busted; Jordan tries hiding under a bathtub but is discovered and goes to jail. It was a great time while it lasted, but he never wants to go through that again.
  • This song was written by Ellis "Slow" Walsh, who recorded it with his band Eddie Williams and His Brown Buddies. Jordan restructured the song in his jump blues style and released it as a single, with his name added to the writing credits along with Walsh. It's not clear if Walsh asked Jordan to record it, but as the co-writer, Walsh had a lot to gain because Jordan was a huge star and his group was rather obscure.

    Jordan's version vaulted to #1 on the R&B chart October 8, 1949, where it stayed for 12 weeks. During this run, Jordan played a number of successful shows, including a stint at the Apollo Theater in New York with a young singer named Ruth Brown.
  • This was the follow-up to another food-themed single for Jordan: "Beans and Corn Bread." That one was also a #1 R&B hit.
  • Personnel on this track were:

    Piano: Bill Doggett
    Tenor sax: Josh Jackson
    Alto sax: Jordan
    Trumpets: Aaron Izenhall, Bob Mitchell, Hal Mitchell
    Guitar: Ham Jackson
    Bass: Billy Hadnott
    Drums: Christopher Columbus
  • Singles were issued on 78 RPM records at the time, which didn't leave a lot of room. This song had to be split into two sides to fit, so the A-side of the single (running 3:12) held the first part of the song, with the remaining 2:48 on the B-side.
  • This isn't the first time Jordan sang about cops busting a party. In his 1945 song "They Raided The House," he escapes arrest because he's drunk on the corner when the cops raid the place.

Comments: 1

  • Graham from player Bill Doggett had a huge hit with the instrumental "Honky Tonk" in 1956.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Rick Astley

Rick AstleySongwriter Interviews

Rick Astley on "Never Gonna Give You Up," "Cry For Help," and his remarkable resurgence that gave him another #1 UK album.

Richie Wise (Kiss producer, Dust)

Richie Wise (Kiss producer, Dust)Songwriter Interviews

Richie talks about producing the first two Kiss albums, recording "Brother Louie," and the newfound appreciation of his rock band, Dust.

Christmas Songs

Christmas SongsFact or Fiction

Rudolf, Bob Dylan and the Singing Dogs all show up in this Fact or Fiction for seasonal favorites.

Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake & Palmer

Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake & PalmerSongwriter Interviews

Greg talks about writing songs of "universal truth" for King Crimson and ELP, and tells us about his most memorable stage moment (it involves fireworks).

Marvin Gaye

Marvin GayeFact or Fiction

Did Marvin try out with the Detroit Lions? Did he fake crazy to get out of military service? And what about the cross-dressing?

Jonathan Edwards - "Sunshine"

Jonathan Edwards - "Sunshine"They're Playing My Song

"How much does it cost? I'll buy it?" Another songwriter told Jonathan to change these lyrics. Good thing he ignored this advice.