This was originally recorded by Shorty Long in 1964 as "Devil With The Blue Dress." Long was signed to a Motown label that specialized in Soul recordings, and this was his first single on the label. Long wrote the song with Motown producer Mickey Stevenson. Long's version was kind of Bluesy and didn't have the typical Motown sound. Unfortunately for Long, it failed to chart and his only hit was the 1968 novelty song "Here Comes The Judge." Long died in a boating accident in 1969 at age 29.
The song describes a particularly attractive woman who is highly accessorized and has caught the eye of the singer.
The "Fe Fe Fi Fi Fo Fo Fum" refrain is based on the fairy tale Jack And The Beanstalk, where the giant says, "Fe Fi Fo Fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman."
Mitch Ryder's version was a medley with "Good Golly Miss Molly," and was much faster than Long's original. Ryder, who was a white Soul singer from Detroit (one of the few places where Long's original version got some airplay), also had a hit with "Jenny Take A Ride," which was a combination of Little Richard's "Jenny Jenny" and the classic Blues song "C.C. Rider."
Ryder attributes the success of this song to the band's efforts to create a live sound which captured a lot of energy. A big fan was Bruce Springsteen, who later did his own medley of "Devil With A Blue Dress"/"Good Golly Miss Molly."
According to Ryder, he was born William Levise Jr., and his band was originally called The Rivieras. It was a name conflict with the group of "California Sun" fame, so Ryder found a new name flipping through a Manhattan phone book - he became "Mitch Ryder" and his band was "The Detroit Wheels." Their success in America was short lived, but they retained a big following in Germany, where they could do 2 1/2 hour sets without even playing their American hits.
Joe from 49417I was a little surprised that no one mentioned that this great song was featured in the Whoopi Goldberg episode of "Moonlghting".
Jennifur Sun from RamonaI was really surprised to find out that Mitch wasn't black, I swear I always thought he was. This is a great Rocker, and The Animals do a good version of this song as well although it is a little bit different.
Rotunda from Tulsa, OkOh yes--this is what we used to call a "gut-busting rocker. I still love this song & Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels' hits. In '66 when this song came out, I was in college and loved dancing in the college bars to this song. And dancing to this song, for a 490 pound girl, ain't so easy. I was like a locomotive in motion! Or a hippo on a caffeine fix!!! Anyway, those were wild times. I also loved their earlier Top Ten hit, "Jenny Take A Ride" which is even wilder & more of a "party song." Check it out. Despite my heft, I did love to dance & especially to Mitch Ryder songs. Then, in my senior year in college, they had another big hit, "Sock It To Me, Baby" another rouser that I partied to. In my last year of college, I was known at local college bars as " The Hefty Heifer" which I didn't really mind. Now, in 2013, I'm down in weight to a svelt (??) 310 pounds and still love this song. Rock on, Mitch Ryder & you Detroit Wheels wherever you are!
Matthew from Toronto, OnOne of the most exciting songs I ever heard on the radio. Still gets me jumping whenever it comes on. Seemed to have a very long playing time by radio standards of the time. Took the idea of putting 2 songs together (that Ryder had already tried successfully before) and perfected the technique. The idea got a little stale by the time he put "Too Many Fish in the Sea" with "Three Little Fishes," but it worked like a charm here.
Joe from Reading Pa, PaThe original version of Ryder's hit is very rare and included a verse of "Devil" following the "Jenny" section, and some extra guitar during the outro. It is available on Disc 3 of the "Red, White and Rock" boxed CD set. The poorly edited shorter version is what is commonly available and heard on the radio, and is a real insult to the original which had a huge impact on the rock scene of its day.
Rich from Tampa, FlThere was an episode of Law and Order in which Angie Harmon's character was grilling a suspect and threatening to put him away for life if he didn't come clean. The bad guy called her a devil. She replied, "You should see me in a blue dress."
Rick from Graysville, MoGreat soul shouter,had a hot band behind him.Had a great song on the radio a few years after his 60's popularity had died out called "Rock'n Roll" I believe,great song
David from Flushing, MiFee Fee Fi Fi Fo Fo Fum actually appeared in the Coaster's "Charley Brown" written by Leiber-Stoller in 1958. "Fee Fee Fi Fi Fo Fo Fum, I smell smoke in the auditorium".