Template:Distinguish2 Template:Infobox single "I Hear You Knocking" (or "I Hear You Knockin'") is a rhythm and blues song written by Dave Bartholomew. New Orleans rhythm and blues singer Smiley Lewis first recorded the song in 1955. The lyrics tell of the return of a former lover who is rebuffed and Huey "Piano" Smith provided the prominent piano accompaniment in the style associated with Fats Domino.

"I Hear You Knocking" reached number two on the Billboard R&B singles chart in 1955, making it Lewis's most popular and best-known song. Subsequently, numerous artists have recorded it, including Welsh singer and guitarist Dave Edmunds, whose version reached number one in the UK in 1970 and was in the top 10 in several other countries.


Several earlier blues and R&B songs use lyrics similar to "I Hear You Knocking".[1] James "Boodle It" Wiggins recorded an upbeat piano blues in 1928 titled "Keep A Knockin' An You Can't Get In" (Paramount 12662),[2] which repeated the title in the lyrics. It was followed by songs that used similar phrases, including "You Can't Come In", by Bert M. Mays (1928, Vocalion 1223); "Keep On Knocking", by Lil Johnson (1935); "Keep a Knocking", by Milton Brown & His Brownies (1936); and "Keep Knocking (But You Can't Come In)", by Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys (1938, Columbia 20228). None of these early singles listed a songwriter or composer.

However, when popular jump blues bandleader Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five recorded the song as "Keep A-Knockin'" in 1939 (Decca 7609), the single's credits listed "Mays-Bradford" (Bert Mays and Perry Bradford). in 1957, Little Richard recorded it with "R. Penniman", Richard's legal name, listed as the writer, although Bert Mays and J. Mayo Williams were later credited as songwriters.[1] Beginning with his signing by the Los Angeles–based Imperial Records in 1950, Smiley Lewis was one of the main proponents of the emerging New Orleans rhythm and blues style, along with Fats Domino, Lloyd Price, Dave Bartholomew, and Professor Longhair.

Original songEdit

Smiley Lewis recorded "I Hear You Knocking" with Dave Bartholomew's band at J&M Studios in New Orleans, owned by Cosimo Matassa. Bartholomew is listed as the producer and songwriter, along with Pearl King (a Bartholomew pseudonym; the maiden name of his wife). "I Hear You Knocking" uses a modified twelve-bar blues arrangement, in which the progression to the IV chord is repeated:[3]

It has been notated in 4/4 time in the key of C with a moderate tempo.[4] Instrumentally, the song is dominated by piano triplets in the style of Fats Domino, played by Huey "Piano" Smith.[5] The lyrics echo some of the lines from the earlier songs:

Template:Poemquote "I Hear You Knocking" was released as a single by Imperial Records in 1955 and entered the charts on September 6.[6] It spent eighteen weeks on the chart and reached number two.[6]

First cover versionsEdit

In the 1950s, it was a common practice in the record industry for pop artists to re-record (or "cover") popular R&B songs.[7] Well-known early examples include Big Joe Turner's "Shake, Rattle and Roll", which was re-recorded by Bill Haley & His Comets, and Fats Domino's "Ain't That a Shame", which was covered by Pat Boone.[8] In some cases, cover versions far outsold the originals[9] and prevented them from entering the pop chart or "crossing over". This was the case with "I Hear You Knocking".[10] A recording of the song by actress and pop singer Gale Storm in 1956 (Dot 15412) reached number two on the Billboard pop chart and number three on the Cash Box Best-Selling Record chart and became a gold record. Blues researcher Bill Dahl noted that "Storm swiped his [Lewis's] thunder for any crossover possibilities with her ludicrous whitewashed cover of the plaintive ballad".[10] Bartholomew expressed his disappointment,[11] reportedly leading him to refer to Lewis as a "'bad luck singer', because he never sold more than 100,000 copies of his Imperial singles".[10] English singer Jill Day also recorded the song in 1956, as did Connie Francis in 1959. In 1961, Bartholomew produced Fats Domino's successful remake of the song, also for Imperial.

Dave Edmunds's renditionEdit

Template:Infobox single Welsh singer and guitarist Dave Edmunds recorded "I Hear You Knocking" in 1970. Whereas Lewis's original recording is a piano-driven R&B piece, Edmunds' version features prominent guitar lines and a stripped-down rock-and-roll approach.[12] In an interview, John Lennon commented, "Well, I always liked simple rock. There's a great one in England now, 'I Hear You Knocking'".[13]

Edmunds plays all the instruments (except possibly bass) and AllMusic writer Stephen Thomas Erlewine describes that the song "has a mechanical rhythm and a weird, out-of-phase vocal that qualifies as an original interpretation".[14] Edmunds uses fills and a solo played on slide guitar, and during the instrumental break he shouts out the names of several 1950s recording artists: "Fats Domino, Smiley Lewis, Chuck Berry, Huey Smith!".[11]

In December 1970, "I Hear You Knocking" reached number one in the UK, including the Christmas number one slot, and topped the UK singles chart for six weeks.[15] It also placed in the top 10 in several other countries, including number four on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 in 1971.[16]

Chart performanceEdit

Weekly chartsEdit

Chart (1970-71) Peak
Australia KMR [17] 4
Canada RPM 3
New Zealand [18] 3
UK [19] 1
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 [20] 4
U.S. Cash Box Top 100 4

Year-end chartsEdit

Chart (1971) Rank
Australia [21] 20
Canada [22] 46
UK [23] 36
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 [24] 81
U.S. Cash Box [25] 35

Other recorded versionsEdit

Examples of notable musicians who have recorded "I Hear You Knocking" include:[26] Template:Div col

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See alsoEdit


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Template:UK Christmas No. 1s in the 1970s Template:Dave Edmunds