"Junco Partner" is a traditional American blues song remarkable for being covered and revised by many artists over several decades, including Louis Jordan, Dr. John, Professor Longhair, James Booker and The Clash. It was played in different music genres such as blues, folk, rock, reggae and dub. The song’s lyrics refer to needles, drugs, wishes, and to the notorious Louisiana prison farm nicknamed Angola.
The song, originally named "Junker's Blues", was written by Willie Hall (also known as "Drive'em Down"), a blues and boogie-woogie pianist from New Orleans, but he never recorded or credited it to himself. In 1940, Champion Jack Dupree, an American pianist who called Hall "his father", recorded the song for the first time on OKeh Records.
Fats Domino first attracted national attention with "The Fat Man", a variation on this traditional New Orleans tune. Domino recorded the song for Imperial Records in Cosimo Matassa's J&M studio on Rampart Street in New Orleans, Louisiana on Saturday, 10 December 1949. This song is an early rock and roll record, featuring a rolling piano and Domino doing "wah-wah" vocalizing over a fat back beat. It sold over a million copies and is widely regarded as the first rock and roll record to do so.
In 1951, Bob Shad, a musical producer and owner of the “A&R at Mercury Records”, a company that worked with jazz and blues, renamed and rewrote the song, and credited it to himself and Robert Ellen. Shad knew the song because of his work in the New Orleans music scene. Since then, most artists who have recorded the song have credited it to him and Ellen.
The first record of "Junco Partner" was made by James Waynes. Waynes' version became popular in the United States, though actual artists affirm that it was already a classic in New Orleans. In 1952, many artists covered the song, such as the Richard Hayes & Eddie Sauter band, and Louis Jordan & His Tympany Five for Decca (these two groups credited the song to Shad and Ellen). Chuck Berry used the melody line for his song "The man and the donkey" for which he claimed full credit.
Bob Dylan's 1986 album Knocked Out Loaded took its title from "Junco Partner" lyrics (not in the original "Junker's Blues")
Roland Stone (born as Roland LeBlanc), a jazz and blues musician, recorded two versions, the first in 1959 as "Preacher's Daughter", and the second in 1962 as "Down the Road". The Holy Modal Rounders covered the song as "Junko Partner" in 1965.
Better-known covers were recorded in the 1970s and afterwards. In 1972, Dr. John covered the song for his Gumbo album. In 1976, Professor Longhair covered it for his Rock 'N Roll Gumbo album, and James Booker did the same for his homonymous album.
The 101'ers, of which Joe Strummer was a member, covered the song. Strummer later recorded it again with The Clash on their triple album Sandinista!, released in 1980. On Sandinista!, they recorded two versions: a reggae version, "Junco Partner", and a dub version, "Version Pardner".
In 1990 Willy DeVille recorded the song for his Victory Mixture album. Carlos del Junco covered the song for his Big Boy album, released in 1999. The Hindu Love Gods, with Warren Zevon as lead singer and three members of R.E.M., also released their recording of this song under the title "Junko Pardner." English actor and vocalist Hugh Laurie covered the song on his 2013 album Didn't It Rain.
- Junco Partner by Carbon/Silicon with Tymon Dogg, video 1
- Junco Partner by Carbon/Silicon with Tymon Dogg, video 2
- Junco Partner by Carbon/Silicon with Tymon Dogg, video 3
- Junco Partner by Carbon/Silicon with Tymon Dogg, video 4
- Junco Partner by The Clash, in Jamaica, in 1982
- Junco Partner by Lonnie Donegan in the '60s
- Junco Partner by Dr. John in Montreux Jazz Festival 1986
- Junco Partner by Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros, in Brixton Academy, 2001
- Junco Partner by The Midnight to Special in 1988
- Junco Partner by Phil&Hervé played around 1986
- Junco Partner played on resonator guitar by Napoleon Washington