The Name Game

Album: The Name Game (1964)
Charted: 3
  • songfacts ®
  • Lyrics
  • This song was written by soul singer Shirley Ellis and her manager, Lincoln Chase. In it, Shirley proves that she can rhyme any name using just a few simple rules ("Shirley - Shirley, Shirley bo Birley Bonana fanna fo Firley Fee fy mo Mirley, Shirley!"). Shirley used to amaze audiences by taking name game requests. Shirley usually had the good sense to ignore requests for "Chuck."
  • Ellis had another novelty hit a few months later with "The Clapping Song," which had a similar theme. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Martijn - Helmond, Netherlands, for above 2
  • This song was also known as the "Banana Song." Shirley said for a magazine interview that this song was based on a children's game she used to play.
  • This has been featured on several movies including Flawless and The Money Pit. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Daniel - Salem, OR, for above 2
  • A Season 2 episode of the TV show American Horror Story was named after this song, which featured a memorable scene where a delusional Jessica Lange performs it in what becomes a big production number.
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Comments: 18

  • Mikol from NyMy mother (who was an entertainer who went under the name LISA YORK) was one of the three backup singers on "The Name Game" by Shirley Ellis. She was a session singer who never did the TV circuit with Ms Ellis. But she mentioned this to me many times.
  • Moanin' Lisa from Chillicothe Mo.In 1964, this was one funky & huge hit for Shirley Ellis. Loved it. I recall that Ellis had another big hit released called "The Nitty Gritty" and it sounded like it was a "live" recording. This hit, "The Name Game" was popular at my high school with a lot of kids doing the rhyming. Some boys were always trying to rhyme "Chuck" in study halls & getting into trouble for it. Whatever happened to Shirley Ellis? She had a great voice.
  • Nadira Chase from Bronx NyI'm the granddaughter of Lincoln Chase and I wanted to clear up a few errors mentioned. He was never married to Shirley Ellis. His only wife was Monica Chase And he never co wrote anything. He totally wrote the name game the nitty gritty and all others. Shirley was his artist and singer only.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn January 4th 1964, Shirley Ellis performed "The Nitty Gritty" on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
    At the time the song was at #9 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; and the very next day on January 5th, 1965 it peaked at #8 {for 2 weeks} and spent 14 weeks on the Top 100...
    It reached #4 on Billboard's R&B Singles chart...
    Her next charted record was "(That's) What the Nitty Gritty Is"; it stayed on the Top 100 for six weeks, peaking at #72 {it’s on You Tube}...
    In 1969 Gladys Knight and the Pips covered "The Nitty Gritty"; their version reached #2* {for 2 weeks} on Billboard's R&B Singles chart and #19 on the Top 100...
    * The two weeks it was at #2, the #1 record for both those weeks was "Share Your Love With Me" by Aretha Franklin.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn January 24th 1965, "The Name Game" by Shirley Ellis peaked at #3 (for 2 weeks) and spent 14 weeks on the Top 100 (and 5 of those 14 weeks were on the Top 10)...
    It reached #4 on Billboard's R&B Singles chart...
    Though she only had six records to make the Top 100 chart, half of them were Top 10 hits; this one plus, "The Nitty Gritty" (#8 in 1965) and "The Clapping Song" (#8 in 1965)...
    As stated above Lincoln Chase co-wrote the song, he also composed Elvis' "Such A Night" and LaVern Baker's "Jim Dandy"...
    R.I.P. Ms. Ellis (1929 - 2005).
  • Jeff from Boston, MaShirley Ellis was NEVER married to Lincoln Chase. He was her manager, producer and songwriting partner. Shirley was married to Alphonso Elliston.
  • Melissa from Fairborn, OhThe song lasts 3 minutes, and the full version of the song lasts 4 and a half minutes.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyIn 1982 Stacy Lattisaw recorded "Attack of the Name Game"; it peaked at No. 70...

  • Don Ludden from Lincoln, NeShirley Ellis and Lincoln Chase are married. They also wrote "The Nitty Gritty".
  • Madison from Norway, MeRumplestiltskin!!!!
  • Mary from Jackson, TnShe would probably deny resquests for Tucker as well.
  • Howard from Minneapolis, MnOops. I mean who ever financed it had to have been on narcotics. Ellis wrote and recorded it.
  • Howard from Minneapolis, MnThis is my pick as the number 1 worst song of all time. Every time I hear it, my blood pressure goes through the roof. Who ever wrote this had to have been on a regemine of serious narcotics, and Ellis, why the hell she ever recorded it is WAAAAYYYY beond me.
  • Jake from Burke, VaHello, my name is Jake. Jake, Jake Bo Bake, Bonanna Fanna Fo Fake, Fee Fi Mo Make, Jake!
  • Annabelle from Eugene, OrHere's what it would be if my daughter's name was Taylor. ... Taylor taylor bo Baylor, Bonana Fanna Fo Faylor, Fee Fi Mo Maylor ... Tay-lor!
  • Joshua from Twin Cities, MnWould she take requests for Mitch?
  • Annabelle from Eugene, OrWhy in the world would Shirley Shirley Bo Birley ignore requests for Chuck? Would she get a bad reaction?
  • Annabelle from Eugene, OrHere's what it would be if my daughter's name was River. ... River River bo Biver, Bonana Fanna Fo Fiver, Fee Fi Mo Miver ... Ri-ver!
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