Revisiting rare footage of The Kinks covering Little Richard’s ‘Long Tall Sally’
We are taking a trip down into the Far Out archives and revisiting this glorious cover of the late Little Richard recorded by The Kinks in 1964. The British invasion band are just one of many who may have never existed if it wasn’t for the architect of rock ‘n’ roll’s existence and influence.
‘Long Tall Sally’ was originally released in 1956 and would represent Little Richard’s first entry to the Top 10 in the US charts, it caught the attention of the mainstream who had no choice but to accept that rock ‘n’ roll had now arrived and it was here to stay
Little Richard later revealed that the track was based on a family friend called Sally who always had a glass of whiskey to hand. He frankly described her as being tall and ugly, with just two teeth and cockeyed. She was apparently having an affair with a man called John, who was married to Mary, who they all called “Short Fat Fanny”. John and Mary would get in fights on the weekends, and when he saw her coming, he would duck back into a little alley to avoid her.
The track would be covered by The Beatles in June 1964 as they revisited a song that was a mainstay of their sets during the very early days of their inception. However, a few months earlier another British band had also chosen to release their version of the classic track when The Kinks decided to make ‘Long Tall Sally’ their debut single and put their own spin on it.
Kinks guitarist Dave Davies spoke with Rolling Stone about the influence that Little Richard had on him from the very first second he heard him sing: “He pounded the shit out of the piano, and his voice was so stunning. I’d never heard anybody sing like that,” he said. “It was so screechy and loud. He made the hairs stand up on the back of your neck.
“I wanted to do a heavier version of ‘Long Tall Sally’ because his version is really upbeat,” Davies recalled of the cover. “It was OK, but I think his version is better.”
Davies would later be fortunate enough to meet his hero some years later and became starstruck once he was in the presence of the intimidating rockstar. Their encounter came in the 1980s, at L.A.’s Hyatt House, a location where the singer was living during that period. Davies vividly recollects the incident: “I met him in an elevator and I was too star-struck, and he just stared through me with his wonderful, glaring eyes. I just said, ‘Hello,’ and he said, ‘I know who you are.’ I said, ‘You’re a big idol of mine.’ I was like a little kid, hypnotised.
“We all felt that when you heard Little Richard, you felt like you were going somewhere,” he says. “You didn’t know where or even care, but you always sensed it would be somewhere wonderful. There’ll never be another.”
The Kinks’ cover of Little Richard isn’t there finest moment but it is still an important one which would kickstart their esteemed career. Here is rare footage of the Londoners performing their version at Liverpool’s legendary venue The Cavern.