There Goes My Baby

Album: Greatest Hits (1959)
Charted: 2


  • This is the hit from the summer of 1959 which put the Drifters back on the charts after a long career slump, but it was with an entirely new set of musicians. In 1958 the group's manager George Treadwell, who owned the name, fired the group and replaced them with members of a group called The Crowns and added Ben E. King as lead singer. Their first session was produced by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, who were known as a songwriting team but were also well known producers. The took a very unorthodox approach to the record, which worked and gave the new Drifters their first hit. Stoller explained, "We slapped on soaring strings, and exotic baion beat, kettledrums, timpani and every other god-damn sound we could think of."
  • This was a very chaotic recording, with the tympani out of tune and Ben E. King's vocals coming in too soon at the beginning. With all the instrumentation going on, Leiber said that the first time he heard it on the radio, he thought he was picking up two stations.

    This production anarchy didn't sit well with Jerry Wexler at Atlantic Records, which was The Drifters' label, and the song marked the first dark cloud on the horizon between Leiber and Stoller and the label. As given in Hound Dog: The Leiber & Stoller Autobiography, Wexler hated the song as soon as he heard it, saying, "I'd never release s--t like this. It's dog meat! You're wasting our money on an overpriced production that sounds like a radio caught between two stations." Protip: Jerry Wexler was later caught in an audit showing that he owed Leiber and Stoller $18,000. He welshed.
  • The writing credits on this song are split five ways between Leiber and Stoller, Ben E. King (listed under his real name Benjamin Nelson, Drifters manager George Treadwell, and Lover Patterson, who helped give King his start in the business and wrote some songs with the singer. Exactly who came up with what contributions to the song remains unclear.
  • "There Goes My Baby" went on to score #2 on the Hot 100 and #1 on the R&B chart. It is also ranked #193 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
  • This song pioneered the idea of having a full orchestra backing with strings accompaniment to enhance the emotional impact of R&B music. To this point, most R&B records were produced with the same instrumentation the groups would have on live performances. Thus it formed a bridge between doo-wop, which was dying at the time, and soul music, which had yet to peak.

    Speaking of soul music and 1959, this was also the year when Tamla Records was founded on January 12. Doesn't ring a bell? You know that company better as the name it was incorporated under in 1970: Motown Record Corporation.
  • Donna Summer took this to #21 US in 1984 with her cover. It was her last her last US Top 40 until "This Time I Know It's For Real" in 1989.

Comments: 1

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn May 29th 1959, the Drifters appeared in concert* at Herndon Stadium at Atlanta, Georgia...
    Two days later on June 1st "There Goes My Baby", with Ben E. King singing lead, entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #98; eleven weeks later on August 17th, 1959 it would peak at #2 {for 1 week} and it stayed on the chart for 19 weeks...
    The week that "There Goes My Baby" was at #2 on the Top 100, the #1 record for that week was "A Big Hunk O' Love" by Elvis...
    And on July 21st, 1959 it reached #1 {for 1 week} on Billboard's R&B Singles chart...
    Between 1954 and 1966 the super group had thirty-six Top 100 records; five made the Top 10 with one reaching #1, "Save the Last Dance for Me" for three non-consecutive weeks on October 17th, 1960...
    * Many rock historians consider this to be the first rock 'n roll outdoor music festival; other acts on the bill with the Drifters were Ray Charles, B.B. King, and Jimmy Reed.
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