|US 78 rpm issue courtesy El Enmascarado|
Listen to "Later For You Baby" by Guitar Slim, "Later Alligator" by Bobby Charles, and "See You Later, Alligator" by Bill Haley And His Comets:
“See You Later, Alligator” was a catch phrase which I remember my parents using back in the 1960s. No doubt they first heard it on the big selling Bill Haley record of that title.
The Haley opus was a cover of “Later, Alligator” a record released on Chess by a Cajun R&B singer, Bobby Charles (real name Robert Charles Guidry). He had recorded it in New Orleans in October 1955. In his turn Bobby Charles had no doubt been inspired by an earlier recording by Guitar Slim (real name Eddie Jones), entitled “Later For You Baby” which had been recorded in Chicago in April 1954 and released on Specialty.
Bill Haley (real name Bill Haley) And His Comets recorded “See You Later, Alligator” in New York on the 12th of December 1955. One other track was recorded at the session – “The Paper Boy (On Main Street, USA)” which became the B-side of “See You Later, Alligator.”
By now it was the second version of The Comets who were recording, Dick Richards, Joey D’Ambrosio and Marshall Lytle having left in September 1955 to form the Jodimars. The personnel on the record were: Bill Haley (vocal and rhythm guitar); Franny Beecher (lead guitar); Billy Williamson (steel guitar); Rudy Pompilli (tenor sax); Johnny Grande (piano); Al Rex (bass) and Ralph Jones (drums).
This was the second recording session for The Comets Mark II, their first session having been on the 22nd September 1955, when they recorded “R-O-C-K”, “Rock-a-Beatin’ Boogie”, “The Saints Rock ‘n’ Roll” and “Burn That Candle.”
|US 45 rpm issue courtesy Joan K|
In the UK “See You Later, Alligator” charted twice, reaching number 7 in March 1956, and number 12 in September 1956. Bill Haley records continued to sell strongly in the UK through 1956 and into 1957. “The Saints Rock ‘n’ Roll”, “Rockin’ Through The Rye”, a reissue of “Rock Around The Clock” and “Rip It Up” all made it into the UK top ten in 1956, and “Razzle Dazzle” made it to number 13. “Don’t Knock The Rock” reached number 7 in February 1957, but this was Bill Haley’s last UK hit of the 1950s. “Rock Around The Clock” made it to the top twenty when it was re-issued in 1968 and again in 1974.
With thanks to Joan and El Enmascarado for their scans.
The tracks featured in this post are available on this homemade comp which covers the influences on "(We're Gonna) Rock Around The Clock" as well as "See You Later, Alligator":
01. Around The Clock Part 1 - Wynonie Harris
02. Around The Clock Part 1 - Big Vernon
03. Rock Around The Clock - Sonny Dae & His Knights
04. Move It On Over - Hank Williams
05. (We're Gonna) Rock Around The Clock - Bill Haley And His Comets
06. Thirteen Women And One Man - Dickie Thompson
07. Thirteen Women - Bill Haley And His Comets
08. Shake, Rattle And Roll - Joe Turner and his Blues Kings
09. Shake, Rattle And Roll - Bill Haley And His Comets
10. Later For You Baby - Guitar Slim
11. Later Alligator - Bobby Charles
12. See You Later, Alligator - Bill Haley And His Comets
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