Gloria
by Them

Album: Them (1964)
Charted: 71
  • songfacts ®
  • Lyrics
  • Them was a garage band from Belfast. "Gloria" was written by Van Morrison, who was their lead singer. The song is about a girl who comes by for (presumably) sexual encounters.

    The recorded version is a tidy two and a half minutes with nothing explicit, but when Them (and later The Doors) would perform the song live, it often became an extended jam with Morrison going into more graphic, spoken-word detail about the encounter. Anyone who wondered just what happened when a groupie came by to see a willing rock star was given a first-hand account.
  • According to Van Morrison, the song was titled after his cousin Gloria, who was 13 years older. The song is not about her though.
  • In December 1964, this was released as the B-side of the Them single "Baby Please Don' t Go," which was a cover of a blues standard. "Gloria" gained traction when it became a highlight of the group's live shows, sometimes developing into a 20-minute jam.

    The song got little airplay in England, but found a following in America among the same garage rock audience that loved "Louie Louie." In the US, it was first released (as the B-side) in March 1965, but was reissued as the A-side of the single in April 1966, which is when it charted at #71. It became the most well known song for the group, despite its humble beginnings.
  • At this stage in their career, session musicians played on Them's records instead of the actual band, although Van Morrison did the real singing. One of these session players was Jimmy Page, who played guitar on this song. He did a lot of studio work before going on to fame with The Yardbirds and Led Zeppelin.
  • The Shadows of Knight made a version that hit #10 in the US two years later. It became a very popular song to cover because it's easy to play on guitar and contains an anthemic chorus (G-L-O-R-I-A).

    Some of the other groups to record the song include I ragazzi del sole (1966), Blues Magoos (1967), Patti Smith (1975, with a line from her poem Oath added at the beginning: "Jesus died for somebody's sins but not mine"), The Doors (1983), Count Five (1991), Eddie & The Hot Rods (1997), Rickie Lee Jones (2001), Simple Minds (2001) and Popa Chubby (2001).

    Van Morrison released his own version in 1974. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Andy - Eatontown, PA
  • In Rolling Stone magazine's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time issue, Morrison says of this song: "I was just being me, a street cat from Belfast. Probably like thousands of kids from Belfast who were in bands." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • In 1966, The Doors shared a bill with Them at the The Whisky A-Go-Go in West Hollywood, California for a series of shows. Them's Morrison was a big influence on The Doors' Morrison, and Jim learned a lot about stagecraft and incorporating poetry into his act from watching Van. The final night of the performances, both bands shared the stage to perform this song.
  • This song did not make Van Morrison a rich man. In fact, he saw almost zero money from the hit. Upon reviewing the numbers, attorney Alan Gershen estimated that Morrison had lost out on at least $250,000 - a huge amount of money, especially for that time. "It seemed to me that Van really didn't have a clue about the music-publishing business," friend Jon Gershen said of the situation.
  • This appears in the first scene of the 1983 movie The Outsiders.
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Comments: 13

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyPer: http://www.oldiesmusic.com/news.htm
    Jimy Sohns, lead singer of the Shadows of Knight, threw out the first pitch at the Chicago-Cincinnati baseball game at Wrigley Field on Monday night on August 31st, 2015 {the Reds won the game, though, 13-6}...
    And nearly a half-century earlier on March 13th, 1966 the Shadows of Knight's covered version of "Gloria" entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #78; seven weeks later on May 1st it would peak at #10 {for 2 weeks} and it stayed on the chart for 12 weeks...
    It reached #8 on the Canadian RPM Magazine chart...
    The Chicago-area rock quintet had four other Top 100 records; "Oh Yeah" {#39 in 1966}, "Bad Little Woman" {#91 in 1966}, "I'm Gonna Make You Mine" {#90 in 1966}, and "Shake" {#46 in 1968}.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn April 17th 1964, Them, with Van Morrison, appeared in concert for the first time, the event took place at the Maritime Hotel in Belfast, Ireland...
    One year and one month later in May 1965 the Irish quintet’s first two records released in the U.S. would enter Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; on May 16th "Gloria" entered the chart at #93 for a one week stay, then a year later on April 17, 1966 it re-entered the Top 100 for six more weeks, and on its last week on the chart it peaked at #71...
    "Here Comes the Night" entered the Top 100 on May 22nd, 1965 at #74; seven weeks later on July 11th, 1965 it would peak at #24 {for 2 weeks} and spent 10 weeks on the Top 100.
  • Ted from Manchester, United KingdomThis track is a timeless classioc.. they were brilliant
  • Lon from Mason City, IaIn 1999, "Gloria" by Them received the Grammy Hall of Fame Award
  • Nick from Seattle, Albaniagreat song by van! but i like the other morrison's version better...
  • William from Pheonix, AzDoors version = long, and remeberable Them verion = short sweet and awsome
  • Steve Dotstar from Los Angeles, Cain less skillfull hands, this song would be a real dud, but the production(sound of the instruments) and the magic of van morrison's vocal make this a hypnotic groove!
  • Bob from Arlington Heights , IlAndys comment is not correct. On the Billboard national charts, "Gloria" rose to #10. The secondary publication Cashbox ranked "Gloria" as high as #5. Thems version had trouble charting in the US because of the line " and then she comes to my room Yeah an' she make me feel all right, "
    The SOK cleaned up the song and alllowed it to be played more on AM powerhouses like WLS and WCFL.
  • Pat from Albuquerque, NmWhile the Doors version of Gloria is really good, the version by Them (which I heard played many times by every street band I heard in college in the late 60s and early 70s) is still the best. Classic song...
  • Tony from Somewhere, MaThe Doors did this song the best.
  • Ruined from Philthy, PaAlso recorded by girl groups (Belles, '66; Headcoatees '93[?]) under the title 'Melvin' as a response. Basically same song, just the name is different.
  • Joshua from Twin Cities, MnActually U2's song "Gloria" is completely different from Them's song, although in the movie Rattle And Hum U2 works part of Them's song into the end section of "Exit".
  • Dibyo from Bangalore, IndiaEven U2 recorded this song.
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