THE ORIGINAL: Louis Prima (1956)

This song is crafted from an Austrian Tango and has been around since 1929, with a long and storied history that includes a lot of covers. You can read about those on your own, because it’s too much to write here.

I’m going with the most popular early recording, by Louis Prima and his band, Sam Butera and The Witnesses. This is a great example of the magic of Louis Prima and his jumpin’ jivin’ Swing style.

Do yourself a favor and get his album, “THE WILDEST!” because this song is on it, and the rest of it is beyond fantastic.  It starts out with a peppy midtempo feel, Louis singing lead, with his wife Keely Smith and the guys in the band doing the call-and-response backing vocals.

The first part is a little quiet, and then it ramps up with the drums bashing, the bass louder, and the horns… the horns! The back-and-forth with the quiet to crescendo rides a nice wave, and the sax and other horn solos are just great. You can’t help but smile when you hear this.

THE COVER: David Lee Roth (1985)

Diamond Dave is a kooky dude who chooses very specific songs to cover, both as a solo artist and with Van Halen. When I heard that he was going to do this song I thought it was a perfect match, because Dave works from an old school, larger-than-life, funny and entertaining playbook that was pretty much written in the mid ‘50s by people like Louis Prima.

This is a perfect fit, and he does it justice. This is from his album Crazy From The Heat, and he was crazy alright…crazy like a fox.


I really love me some Diamond Dave, but Louis wins this, without hesitation.


About Author

Crystal C Durant

Crystal is today's black Renaissance woman. She lives in Harlem, is always up for a new experience, is a magnet for all kinds of crazy, and smells like fresh flowers.


  1. Doug Shingler on

    I love them both but to me, Diamond Dave’s is better. He also had the benefit of a great video!

  2. I really love both of the versions…leave it to the professionals to make the call! I am just waiting for you to do Buster Poindexter and Ray Charles’ versions of Hit The Road Jack!

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