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Billboard #1 hits- #11- “Kansas City”- Wilbert Harrison. #1 May 18, 1959- #1 2 weeks. Released on Fury Records. Written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. Genre: R&B, Rock and Roll. Time:2:22. B:Side:”Listen, My Darling.” Grade:A+

“Kansas City” was written by the great songwriting team of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller out in Los Angeles in 1952- neither of the nineteen years olds had ever been to Kansas City but were inspired by the records of Big Joe Turner. The song was first recorded by Little Willie Littlefield in 1952. When recorded by Littlefield the record label head Ralph Bass changed the title to “K.C. Loving.” Littlefield’s version got attention but failed to make the national charts.  The song would go on to be recorded hundreds of times- Wilbert Harrison had the big hit with it #1 in 1958- other hit versions- Ricky Nelson #60 in 1959, Hank Ballard #72 in the 1959, Little Richard #95 in the 1959, “Trini Lopez #23 in 1964 and James Brown # 55 in 1967. The most famous version of the song was never released as a single- but it was a song The Beatles would play in their early Hamburg days- and in 1964 they would record it as “Kansas City/ Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey”- and release it on their Beatles For Sale album. Wilbert Harrison would only have one other Top 40 hit “Let’s Work Together” #32 in 1969- a song later covered by Bob Dylan. He died in 1994 at the age of 65 from a stroke.


5 responses to “BILLBOARD #1 HITS: #11: “KANSAS CITY-“- WILBERT HARRISON-MAY 18, 1959

  1. This is one of those songs that everybody likes, like “Little Bitty Pretty One.” Back in my DJ days I would play it during cocktails along with Minnie The Moocher and My Baby Just Cares for Me, stuff like that and I was surprised how it crossed generational lines.

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