Monday, September 6, 2010

Clarence "Frogman" Henry - Ain't Got No Home - Argo, 1956

The Frogman Cometh! I play this one all the time, and it always gets a good crowd response, as it is still well known and loved. Clarence's trademark croak, used to great effect in this song, is one of the things that makes it memorable and so much fun. That, and this song's use more recently in favorites like "The Lost Boys".

"Ain't Got No Home" was a novelty hit that vaulted to the number 3 position on the R&B charts and to number 20 on the pop charts. It also served to give the nineteen-year-old the nickname that would stick with him for life, "Frogman." In a falsetto voice he screams he can "sing like a girl" and in a silly croak he says he can "sing like a frog." How can you not dance to this?

Clarence Henry was born March 19, 1937 in New Orleans, Louisiana. From his website,
Frogman played the trombone in high school and snuck into bars where Professor Longhair played to listen. He wrote the "Frog song" (Ain't Got No Home) 1956 after a late gig at The Joy Lounge. He was tired and the owner wasn't too interested in letting the musicians off - so he slammed the keys down and howled "Oooh oh oh oh oh oh oh!". And the rest is history.

"(I Don't Know Why) But I Do" and "You Always Hurt the One You Love", both from 1961, were his other big hits. But after some heavy touring the the early 60's, including a few gigs openning for The Beatles, Clarence came back to New Orleans to stay, performing primarily on Bourbon Street.

Clarence Henry was inducted to both the Rockabilly and Louisiana Music Halls of Fame.

Argo Records was an offshoot of Chess Records started in late 1955.  Today's song by "Frogman" was Argo's first big hit and helped launch the label. Argo eventually became a predominately Jazz label associated with such performaers as Ahmad Jamal, James Moody, King Fleming, and Ramsey Lewis Trio. Major rhythm and blues performers on the label were Etta James and The Dells. Argo changed its name in 1965 to Cadet Records when the company discovered that an Argo Records already existed in the UK.
And finally, the clip! I selected the "frogman" verse:

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