Shakin’ All Over – 1960

“Shakin’ All Over” is a song originally performed by Johnny Kidd & the Pirates. The song was written by frontman Johnny Kidd, and his recording of it reached number one on the UK Singles Chart in August 1960. Kidd’s original recording was not a hit outside of Europe, and in other parts of the world “Shakin’ All Over” is much better known in versions by other artists. In 1964 a local band from Plattsburgh, NY called the Twiliters recorded a live version of it. It did well in New England but did not chart nationally. However it was the first North American cover of the song. A 1965 cover by The Guess Who reached #1 in Canada, and also top 40 in the US and Australia, while Normie Rowe’s 1965 version was a #1 Australian hit and one of the biggest-selling Australian singles of the decade.

Original Johnny Kidd version (1960)

The musicians who performed on the recording were Johnny Kidd (vocals), Alan Caddy (guitar), Brian Gregg (bass), Clem Cattini (drums) and Joe Moretti (lead guitar). Kidd was quoted as saying:

When I was going round with a bunch of lads and we happened to see a girl who was a real sizzler we used to say that she gave us “quivers down the membranes”. It was a standard saying with us referring to any attractive girl. … I can honestly say that it was this more than anything that inspired me to write “Shakin’ All Over”.

The Twiliters version (1964)

The Twiliters, a band from Plattsburgh, NY recorded “Shakin” in early 1964 live before a crowd at a local skating rink called “Rollerland.” Bill Kennedy the leader of the group had been stationed in Germany in the Air Force and had heard several songs from the UK that he wanted to record. It was released on Empire Records E-4. On the flip side was a song called “Rollerland” that was actually covered by at least two acts later on. The release fared well but did not chart nationally. As far as know, this was the first North American cover of the great Johnny Kidd song.

The Guess Who’s version (1965)

The original recording was not a hit outside of Europe. Instead, “Shakin’ All Over” gained fame in North America after the Canadian band The Guess Who covered it in 1965, and the following year it became a number one hit in Canada, and a number twenty-two hit in the US. The Guess Who had previously been known as Chad Allan and the Expressions prior to the release of “Shakin’ All Over”, but the group’s Canadian label (Quality Records) issued the record as by “Guess Who?”, in an attempt to imply that the record might be by a British Invasion act. Although the recording artist was revealed to be Chad Allan and the Expressions a couple of months later, radio DJs continued to announce the artist as “Guess Who”. The group subsequently permanently changed its name to The Guess Who, and went on to a long Top 40 career.

Normie Rowe version (1965)

The Guess Who’s version also became a number twenty-seven hit in Australia, but another “Shakin’ All Over” cover became a national number one hit in late 1965 for Normie Rowe. Rowe’s version of the track (backed by “Que Sera Sera”) was one of the biggest-selling Australian singles of the decade.