Harlem Shuffle

Album: Dirty Work (1986)
Charted: 13 5


  • The Harlem Shuffle is a dance that was popular in the '50s and '60s originating in Harlem ballrooms. Harlem is a section of New York City with a large black population. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • This was originally recorded by the R&B duo Bob and Earl in 1969. Their version, which was produced by Barry White, hit #7 in the UK. Keith Richards wanted to record this for quite a while. He would put the original version on demo tapes for Mick Jagger. The Bob and Earl version was sampled on the House Of Pain hit "Jump Around."
  • In 1964, The Stones released a cover of The Valentinos' "It's All Over Now." Bobby Womack, who wrote that song and sang lead on the original, sang backup on this and other songs on Dirty Work.
  • Backup singers included Womack, Tom Waits, Don Covay, and Patti Scialfa, who would later marry Bruce Springsteen.
  • Keith Richards said of this song in 1986: "I've been trying to get Harlem Shuffle on an album, without actually telling Mick, for 5 or 6 years. I thought that was a natural number for him to sing - it was made for him. I've been giving him cassettes with Harlem Shuffle stuffed in the middle somewhere for a long time, but I never got any real response. One night we were in the studio and Woody and I started plunking away at it. We were amazed at how simple the song was - about 2 chords. The band was just warming up on it, jamming, when Mick walked in and started singing. We realized, YEAH. And we did it in 2 takes. So it paid off eventually, though it cost me a fortune in cassettes."
  • Two extended versions were released as 12-inch singles, the "London Mix" and "NY Mix."
  • The video was one of the first to combine live action with animation. It opens with a cartoon featuring some cats going to a club, where the Rolling Stones are playing. The cartoon cats show up throughout the video. Ralph Bakshi and John Kricfalusi did the animation. Both artists pioneered adult animation and specialized in cats: Bakshi worked on Fritz the Cat, which was the first cartoon movie to get an X rating, and Kricfalusi drew for the raunchy cartoon Ren and Stimpy.
  • The Rolling Stones played the song live for the first time in nearly three decades during their gig at East Rutherford New Jersey's MetLife Stadium on August 5, 2019.

    "Has anyone crossed two rivers to get here tonight?" Jagger asked the crowd prior to playing the tune. "Anybody here from Queens? Anyone from Manhattan? Westchester? Staten Island? The Bronx? Hartford? Anyone here from New Jersey? We're going to do a song sort of locally, vaguely, based. It's called 'Harlem Shuffle.'"

    The Stones' previous performance of the song was during their August 25, 1990 concert at Wembley Stadium.

Comments: 15

  • Northernsoul from London, EnglandNo search results for BOB AND EARL on this website, WTF?? Come on guys, somebody make the effort to post a page on this great soul duo
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn December 15th 1963 "Harlem Shuffle" by Bob and Earl entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; eventually it peaked at #44 and spent 11 weeks on the Top 100...
    Twenty-three years later in 1986 the Rolling Stones covered it; and on April 27th, 1986 their version reached #5 on the Top 100 and #2 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock chart...
    Bob and Earl had one other Top 100 record, "Don't Ever Leave Me", it peaked at #85 in 1962 (available on You Tube)...
    R.I.P. 'Bob' Relf (1937 - 2007) and 'Earl' Nelson (1928 - 2008).
  • Bart from New Milford, NjDays before the song was released, then New York radio personality Howard Stern had his sidekick Fred Norris and his house band do a cover of Harlem Shuffle in the Rolling Stones style, and played it pretending that it was the Stones. Reps from rival radio stations and even executives from Columbia records were fooled, and demanded that Stern reveal how he got his copy. Even when he declared it was a hoax, many did not believe him, until the real version was released. Turns out that Fred had a good handle on the Stones' style, as it sounded very much like his version.
  • Patrice from Errora, OkI almost went blind looking at the crazy color schemes on the cover of Dirty Work
  • Susan from Toronto, CanadaKeith tried for years to get Mick to record this. Keith said, "It took five years and two takes to record."
  • Juan from Buenos Aires, ArgentinaJohnny and Edgar Winter played it also. Good version.
  • Eric from Hastings, Mnit's alright... nothing special
  • Bill from St. Paul, MnI beg to differ on the first cover song the Stones did since 1964. Don't forget about "Ain't Too Proud To Beg", a cover of a Temptations song they released as a single in 1974.
  • Dave from Cardiff, WalesPete - Bob and Earl's version was originally RECORDED in 1963, however it did not chart until six years later in 1969. The horn intro was later sampled by the House of Pain, who used it as the intro to their 1993 hit "Jump Around"
  • Pete from Ny, NyBob & Earl's classic original is from 1963, not 1969 as indicated above.
  • Ethan from Portland, OrThe best song off of the otherwise mediocre 'Dirty Work'
  • Jonnie from St. Louis, MoSome info many have forgotten about: the dynamic
    Wayne Cochran (The White Knight of Soul) did a SUPER version of "Harlem Shuffle" in mid-60's on Mercury.

    At one time Wayne was one of the Hottest Performers in Vegas...all the stars from Elvis to Ike & Tina Turner were fans of Cochran and his C.C. Riders.

    He had previously written "The Last Kiss" and his version of it was a regional hit in his home-area of Georgia. But "Harlem Shuffle" was Wayne's first hit to make Billboard's 'Hot 100'.

    One his later hits was 'Goin' Back To Miami' and
    "The Blues Brothers" patterned a lot of their act on Wayne's personna and show.

    I interviewed Wayne and saw his fantastic show in 1971 when I was at KAAY Radio/Little Rock. Then hooked up with him again in 1973 when I was at WDRQ Radio/Detroit and he was playing there. A generous and talented performer, he is now a Minister in Florida and has been since about 1981.

    Jonnie King/St. Louis (jonnieking@sbcglobal.net)
  • Robb from Williamstown, Nj 08094, Njp.s. '"Harlem shuflle" is a bangin dance tune!
  • Robb from Williamstown, Nj 08094, NjThis tune is so STONES. It is wild that its a cover. I'd like to check out the original .
  • Chelsea from Nyc, OrThe video features Jagger in zootsuit, with black dancers directed by Ralph Bakshi.
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