Mr. Bojangles (song)

Released November 1970
Genre Country, folk
Length 5:15
3:35 (without prologue)
Label Liberty
Songwriter(s) Jerry Jeff Walker
Producer(s) William McEuen


“Mr. Bojangles” is a song written and originally recorded by American country music artist Jerry Jeff Walker for his 1968 album of the same title. Since then, it has been recorded by many other artists, including US country music band the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, whose version (recorded for the 1970 album Uncle Charlie & His Dog Teddy) was issued as a single and rose to number nine on the Billboard Hot 100 pop chart in 1971. Live versions of the song appeared on Walker’s 1977 album, A Man Must Carry On and his 1980 album The Best of Jerry Jeff Walker.

The NGDB’s single version begins with the Uncle Charlie interview (subtitled “Prologue: Uncle Charlie and his Dog Teddy”) that also precedes the song on the Uncle Charlie album. This was originally backed with another interview with Uncle Charlie, also taken from the album. When “Mr. Bojangles” started climbing the charts, the B-side was re-pressed with the same song without the interview prologue. NGDB guitarist Jeff Hanna performed most of the lead vocals on the track, with bandmate Jim Ibbotson performing harmony vocals; the two switched these roles on the last verse.

British pop singer Robbie Williams recorded the song for his 2001 album, Swing When You’re Winning. In early 2002, he released the song as a double A-side with “I Will Talk and Hollywood Will Listen”. Released exclusively in Central and Eastern Europe, the single did not manage to break into the top forty in any country, but the songs, especially “Mr. Bojangles”, became substantial radio hits around Europe.

Recorded versions

The song was first recorded by friend and popular Austin performer Allen Wayne Damron during a live performance at the Chequered Flag folk club in Austin in 1967. Jerry Jeff Walker recorded his single version (with Bobby Woods, Charlie Freeman, Sandy Rhodes, Tommy McClure, Sammy Creason and a string orchestra) in Memphis, Tennessee on June 7, 1968, and it was released by Atco Records (Atco #6594) on June 20, 1968.

In July or August 1968 he recorded a non string version in New York City for his album Mr. Bojangles with David Bromberg, Gary Illingworth, Danny Milhon, Bobby Cranshaw, Jody Stecher, Donny Brooks, Ron Carter, Bill LaVorgna and Jerry Jemmott. It was released by Atco (Atco #33-259) on September 25, 1968.[citation needed]

Since then Walker’s song has been recorded by many popular artists, including Garth Brooks, Kristofer Åström, Chet Atkins, Hugues Aufray (French version, 1984), Harry Belafonte, Bermuda Triangle Band, David Bromberg, Dennis Brown, JJ Cale, David Campbell, Bobby Cole, Edwyn Collins, Jim Croce, Jamie Cullum, King Curtis, Sammy Davis Jr., John Denver, Neil Diamond, Cornell Dupree, Bob Dylan, Arlo Guthrie, Tom T. Hall, John Holt, Whitney Houston, Queen Ifrica, Billy Joel, Dave Jarvis, Elton John, Frankie Laine, Lulu, Rod McKuen, Don McLean, MC Neat, Bebe Neuwirth, Harry Nilsson, Dolly Parton, Johnny Paycheck, Esther Phillips, Ray Quinn, Mike Schank, Helge Schneider, Nina Simone, Corben Simpson, Todd Snider, Cat Stevens, Jim Stafford, Jud Strunk, Radka Toneff, Bradley Walsh, Robbie Williams and Paul Winter.