Hound Dog History

(“You Ain’t  Nothin’ But a) Hound Dog” first became a hit 6o years ago.

“The song was born in the famed Brill Building of New York, written by two Jewish teenagers named Mike Stoller and Jerry Leiber. They had intended it, Leiber later recalled, for a female blues singer, and though they had several candidates in mind, it was Willie Mae Thornton who first took it into the studio on August 13, 1952. Big Mama, as she was known, growled that the songwriters were ‘a couple of kids,’ but the great bandleader Johnny Otis put her through her paces with several takes even as she tinkered with the lyrics, threw in a few suggestive howls, and changed the accent to make ‘Hound Dog’ wholly her own.”

— “‘Hound Dog’: An Old Dog That Keeps on Running,” Gregory McNamee, Britannica blog

Related:

“Mama’s Voice: The lasting influence of Willie Mae ‘Big Mama’ Thornton,” Maureen Mahon, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

“Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller,” Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

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