Huey "Piano" Smith: Rockin' Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu


Rockin' Pneumonia and the Boogie-Woogie Flu


Huey "Piano" Smith & His Clowns


Having a Good Time (West Side 516)

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Huey "Piano" Smith (piano),

Unidentified band, but possibly including Bobby Marchan (vocals) Lee Allen and/or Red Tyler (reeds), Earl King (guitar) Charles Williams (drums)


Composed by Huey Smith and Johnny Vincent


Recorded: New Orleans, 1957


Rating: 92/100 (learn more)

That piano lick has been stolen more times than second base at Fenway Park, but it still sounds sweet and funky today. New Orleans native Huey "Piano" Smith parlayed it into a 1957 hit with "Rockin' Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu." The song didn't achieve much crossover success at the time—supposedly because white deejays were reluctant to play it—but it reached the top five of the R&B chart. And the song had an even bigger impact when Johnny Rivers covered it in 1972: everybody heard it the second time around, and it earned a gold record for the singer. But you are advised to travel upstream and check out River's source. Smith's piano work is in the classic N'awlins style, with that trademark sliding and rolling sound, while the drums show no mercy in pounding out the back beat. The result is a virulently infectious rhythm . . . and the last time I looked there is still no vaccination against the boogie woogie flu.

Reviewer: Ted Gioia

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