Sure Like To Ball

The song ‘Good Golly, Miss Molly’ is credited to songwriter John S. Marascalco and producer Robert Alexander “Bumps” Blackwell, who recorded and released this song first with The Valiants.  The Valiants were a Los Angeles doo wop group who dated back to early 1955, when second tenor Sheridan “Rip” Spencer formed the Sabers with his cousin Brice Coefield and Billy Storm.  The Sabers rechristened themselves the Chavelles and when they met Specialty Records A&R chief “Bumps” Blackwell and in 1956 they became the Valiants, borrowing their name from the popular comic strip Prince Valiant.

Although The Valiants were the first to release ‘Good Golly, Miss Molly’ with Billy Storm singing lead, Don Trotter as bassist, and Dewey Terry on piano, Little Richard was the first to record it.  ‘Good Golly Miss Molly’ was held back until December 1957, by which time Little Richard had given up rock and roll for religion.  Although the Valiants’ version was released first (in 1957), Little Richard had the hit, reaching #4.  Like all his early hits, it quickly became a rock ‘n’ roll standard and has subsequently been covered by hundreds of artists.  The song is ranked #94 on the Rolling Stone magazine’s list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Songwriter John Marascalco had a hand in some of the big R&B and rock hits of the 1950s and ‘60s, including songs he co-wrote with Robert “Bumps” Blackwell for Little Richard like ‘Good Golly Miss Molly’, ‘Rip It Up’ and ‘Ready Teddy’. Marascalco has also co-written songs with Fats Domino ‘Be My Guest’, George Mottola ‘Goodnight, My Love’, and he collaborated with Scott Turner on songs for Harry Nilsson, such as ‘I Just Ain’t Right’ and ‘Building Me Up’.  Marascalco’s tunes have been recorded by Little Richard, Elvis Presley, Bill Haley, Buddy Holly, Gene Vincent, Creedence Clearwater Revival and the Stray Cats.

Little Richard first heard the phrase “Good golly, Miss Molly” from a Southern DJ named Jimmy Pennick, who there doesn’t seem to be any more information on.  He modified the lyrics into the more suggestive “Good golly, Miss Molly/You sure like to ball”.  Little Richard later claimed that he took the music from Ike Turner’s piano intro to Jackie Brenston & His Delta Cats influential 1951 rock and roll song ‘Rocket 88’, and used it for ‘Good Golly, Miss Molly’.  Several months after the recording session, but before the single’s release, he quit show business (until 1964) to become an evangelist.  In fact, by the time this delightfully nasty-minded record was all over radio airwaves, Richard was in divinity school, publicly renouncing rock & roll.  ‘Good Golly, Miss Molly’ was to be Richard’s last giant hit.

Most white folks thought the line “sure like to ball” meant nothing more than having a good time, not realizing that he had taken a celebration of sex right into the Top Ten.  Little Richard made himself out to be so outrageous that he appeared to be as harmless as a cartoon.  This song is simply a thrilling, all-out rocker with Little Richard shouting above piano, Ray Montrell on guitar, Frank Fields on bass, and Earl Palmer playing drums above a set of rifling saxophones done by Lee Allen on tenor sax and Alvin “Red” Tyler on baritone sax.

In November 1962 Jerry Lee Lewis released the single ‘Good Golly Miss Molly’, reissued on compilation album Breathless (1967) and on Rockin’ Rhythm & Blues (1969).  Creedence Clearwater Revival recorded the song in 1969 on their Bayou Country album with slightly changed lyrics.  Instead of the result of the gift of a diamond ring being “When she hugs me, her kissin’ make me ting-a-ling-a-ling,” John Fogerty sang, “Would you pardon me a kissin’ and a ting-a-ling-a-ling?”

Good golly Miss Molly, sure like to ball.
Good golly, Miss Molly, sure like to ball.
When you’re rockin’ and a rollin’ can’t hear your momma call.

Good golly Miss Molly, sure like to ball.
Good golly, Miss Molly, sure like to ball.
When you’re rockin’ and a rollin’ can’t hear your momma call.

From the early, early mornin’ till the early, early night
You can see miss Molly rockin’ at the house of blue light.
Good golly, miss Molly, sure like to ball.
When you’re rockin’ and a rollin’ can’t hear your momma call.

Well, now momma, poppa told me: “Son, you better watch your step”
If I knew my momma, poppa, have to watch my dad myself
Good golly, Miss Molly, sure like a ball
When you’re rockin’ and a rollin’ can’t hear your momma call
I am going to the corner, gonna buy a diamond ring.
When she hugs me and kiss me make me ting-a-ling-a-ling
Good golly, Miss Molly, sure like to ball.
When you’re rockin’ and a rollin’ can’t hear your momma call.

Good golly Miss Molly, sure like to ball.
Good golly, Miss Molly, sure like to ball.
When you’re rockin’ and a rollin’ can’t hear your momma call.

2 thoughts on “Sure Like To Ball

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