Farmer John

Album: Farmer John Live! (1964)

Songfacts®:

  • There's no mystery to the lyrics in "Farmer John." It's about being in love with Farmer John's daughter and wanting to marry her. The enduring appeal of the song is in the catchy chorus and the wild enthusiasm of the performance, where a group of girls interject hoots, hollers and ad-libs to liven things up.
  • The song was written in 1959 by Don "Sugarcane" Harris and Dewey Terry, who worked under the name Don and Dewey. They released a rather tame version of the song as a single, but it didn't go very far. The duo had little success with their own recordings, but many of the songs they wrote went on to be hits with other bands. Their "I'm Leaving It Up to You," for instance, was a #1 for Dale & Grace.

    As for "Farmer John," the Premiers added some raw garage-rock attitude to the song and made it a hit.
  • The Premiers were a Mexican-American band out of East Los Angeles. They formed in 1962, consisting of brothers Lawrence and John Perez (guitar and drums, respectively) and their neighbors George Delgado (guitar) and Frank Zuniga (bass). The mother of the Perez brothers encouraged their ambitions and got them an audition with record producer Billy Cardenas.

    It was Cardenas who recommended that the band cover "Farmer John," but he wanted them to infuse it with the sound coming out of East L.A. at that time, often referred to as the "East Side Sound." "Louie Louie" was popular at that time, so the band tilted the sound that way, as well, and you can hear a distinct resemblance between the two.
  • One of the standout aspects of the Premiers' version is the raucous live atmosphere. They worked to boost that feeling by claiming on the back of the record that it was recorded live at the Rhythm Room in Fullerton, California. The truth of the matter, though, is that it was recorded at Stereo Masters Studios in Hollywood, with some of the ladies from a band named the Chevelles Car Club yelling and screaming as a recording of the song was played.
  • Before the song kicks off, the guy announcing the band asks, "Has anyone seen Kosher Pickle Harry?" The crowd yells that they have not, and the man continues, "If you see him tell him that Herbert is looking for him." What this was meant to be about is unknown, but probably just some messing around.
  • The Premiers never again troubled the charts; Farmer John Live was their only album.
  • A group called the Tidal Waves took this song to #123 in 1966. Neil Young did an ass-stomping version of this song (minus the fake crowd noise) for his 1990 album Ragged Glory.
  • The B-side to the Premiers "Farmer John" single was "Duffy's Blues."

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