Black Betty was Ram Jam's one and only hit; it reached number 18 in the U.S. in 1977. It had marginally better success in the United Kingdom, where the 1977 version peaked at number 7 and a 1990 remix of the song achieved 13. The original 1977 version was released as a single by Epic Records, and the track was later featured on the Blow movie soundtrack.

When released, Black Betty was strongly protested by several groups who felt that it was derogatory to black women. Ironically, however, the song was originally written by legendary blues singer and black folk artist Huddie "Leadbelly" Ledbetter. In addition, Ram Jam's version of the song was actually covered from an unreleased recording by The Lemon Pipers of Ohio when guitarist Bill Bartlett moved from the Pipers to Ram Jam.

While the song may not be very complex lyrically, Ram Jam's version is loaded with energy and contains a very powerful two-minute instrumental solo. It is highly recommended to any classic rock fans, but from my experience will probably be enoyed by just about anyone.

September 12, 2004: This has recently been covered by the group Spiderbait. I've heard it on the radio twice, but it seems to be the band's most popular song at the moment. I believe it is based largely on Ram Jam's version, but I could be wrong because Ram Jam's is the only version I've heard before. Also, the cover appears to have been made for the movie Without a Paddle, judging from Spiderbait's music video and credits in the movie.



Black Betty
- Ram Jam / Huddie Ledbetter

Whoa, Black Betty, bam-ba-lam
Whoa, Black Betty, bam-ba-lam

Black Betty had a child, bam-ba-lam
The damn thing gone wild, bam-ba-lam
She said, "I'm worryin' outta mind", bam-ba-lam
The damn thing gone blind, bam-ba-lam
I said Oh, Black Betty, bam-ba-lam
Whoa, Black Betty, bam-ba-lam

Oh, Black Betty, bam-ba-lam
Whoa, Black Betty, bam-ba-lam
She really gets me high, bam-ba-lam
You know that's no lie, bam-ba-lam
She's so rock steady, bam-ba-lam
And she's always ready, bam-ba-lam
Whoa, Black Betty, bam-ba-lam
Whoa, Black Betty, bam-ba-lam

Whoa, Black Betty, bam-ba-lam
Whoa, Black Betty, bam-ba-lam
She's from Birmingham, bam-ba-lam
Way down in Alabam', bam-ba-lam
Well, she's shakin' that thing, bam-ba-lam
Boy, she makes me sing, bam-ba-lam
Whoa, Black Betty, bam-ba-lam
Whoa, Black Betty, bam-ba-lam


Big thanks to the living rock encyclopedia Bob Stroud of the late Chicago ROCK 103.5 for most of this information that I was having trouble finding. (6-01-2005: Bob Stroud is now a broadcaster/DJ on Chicago's 97.1FM, The Drive. Nice!)

Lometa says re Black Betty: Hello DrWoody, This wrote up was submitted to Content_Salvage for copyright compliance and passes with flying colors! If you would like to you may append the CST approved seal of approval :)

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