"See See Rider", also known as "C.C. Rider", "See See Rider Blues" or "Easy Rider", is a popular American 12-bar blues song. Gertrude "Ma" Rainey recorded it in 1924 followed by many other musicians over the years.
The song uses mostly traditional blues lyrics to tell the story of an unfaithful lover, commonly called an easy rider: "See see rider, see what you have done," making a play on the word see and the sound of easy.
Ma Rainey's recording, "See See Rider Blues", was a popular song in 1925. Numerous musicians later recorded their own versions, including Big Bill Broonzy, Mississippi John Hurt, Lead Belly, Lightnin' Hopkins, and Peggy Lee. Broonzy claimed that "when he was about 9 or 10—that is, around 1908, in the Delta (Jefferson County, Arkansas)—he learned to play the blues from an itinerant songster named "See See Rider", "a former slave, who played a one-string fiddle ... one of the first singers of what would later be called the blues."
In 1943, a version by Wee Bea Booze reached number one on Billboard magazine's "Harlem Hit Parade," a precursor of the rhythm and blues chart. Some blues critics consider this to be the definitive version of the song. A doo-wop version was recorded by Sonny Til and the Orioles in 1952. Later rocked-up hit versions were recorded by Chuck Willis (as "C.C. Rider," a number one R&B hit and a number 12 pop hit in 1957) and LaVern Baker (number nine R&B and number 34 pop in 1963). Willis's version gave birth to the dance craze "The Stroll."
Other popular performances were recorded by Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels (as part of the medley "Jenny Take a Ride!", number 10 US pop in 1965) and the Animals (number 10 US pop in 1966). The Animals' version (featuring keyboard accompaniment by Dave Rowberry) also reached number one on the Canadian RPM chart and number eight in Australia. The arrangement of the song was credited to Rowberry.But it bears a striking resemblance to Joe Tex's rendition which first appeared on his 1965 album The New Boss. (See Joe Tex Discography)
The Grateful Dead often played the songs "China Cat Sunflower" and "I Know You Rider" in succession, but this pairing was referred to as "China Rider" among Grateful Dead fans. The setlist entry "C.C. Rider" refers to the Grateful Dead's version of "C.C. Rider", sung by Bob Weir. In his later years, Elvis Presley regularly opened his performances with the song, as in the performance captured on his 1970 album On Stage and in his television special's Aloha from Hawaii via Satellite and Elvis In Concert. Presley's version opened with a rolling drum riff by drummer Ronnie Tutt followed by the band's entrance and Presley's famous brass melody.
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band long had "C.C. Rider" as part of their "Detroit Medley" encore, which achieved significant publicity on the 1980 live album No Nukes. At the 1972 Sunbury festival in Victoria, Australia, Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs played a heavy blues-rock version as a part of their late night set. This was released on the LP Aztecs Live at Sunbury. American R&B and boogie-woogie pianist and singer Little Willie Littlefield recorded a version for his 1983 album I'm in the Mood.
Other renditions were recorded by the Youngbloods, Jerry Lee Lewis, Ray Charles, Chuck Berry, Gary Lewis and the Playboys, the Who, the Everly Brothers, the Kingsmen, Charlie Rich, Ian & Sylvia, Julie London, Janis Joplin, Leon Thomas, Cher, Snooks Eaglin, John Fahey, Old Crow Medicine Show, Caroline Herring, Drake Bell, Freda Payne, Chris Clark, Bobby Powell, and Jimmy Smith.
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