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Clarence "Frogman" Henry
|Birth name||Clarence Henry II|
|Born||March 19, 1937|
New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
|Genres||Rhythm and blues|
Clarence Henry II (born March 19, 1937), known as Clarence "Frogman" Henry, is an American rhythm and blues singer and pianist, best known for his hits "Ain't Got No Home" (1956) and "(I Don't Know Why) But I Do" (1961).
Clarence Henry was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States, in 1937, moving to the Algiers neighborhood in 1948. He started learning piano as a child, with Fats Domino and Professor Longhair being his main influences. When Henry played in talent shows, he dressed like Longhair and wore a wig with braids on both sides. He joined Bobby Mitchell & the Toppers in 1952, playing piano and trombone, before leaving when he graduated in 1955 to join saxophonist Eddie Smith's band.
He used his trademark croak to improvise the song "Ain't Got No Home" one night in 1955. Chess Records' A&R man Paul Gayten heard the song, and had Henry record it in Cosimo Matassa's studio in September 1956. Initially promoted by local DJ Poppa Stoppa, the song eventually rose to number 3 on the national R&B chart and number 20 on the US pop chart. The gimmick earned Henry his nickname of 'Frogman' and jump-started a career that endures to this day.
He toured nationally with a six-piece band until 1958, and continued to record. A cover of Bobby Charles' hit "(I Don't Know Why) But I Do", and "You Always Hurt the One You Love", both from 1961, were his other big hits.
Henry opened eighteen concerts for the Beatles across the US and Canada in 1964, but his main source of income came from the Bourbon Street strip in New Orleans, where he played for nineteen years. His name could still draw hordes of tourists long after his hit-making days had ended. He still plays at various conventions, including the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.
Henry's pioneering contribution to the genre has been recognized by the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. In April 2007, Henry was honored for his contributions to Louisiana music with induction into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame.
Covers and re-use of Henry's hits
The Band recorded a version of Henry's 1956 song "Ain't Got No Home" for their 1973 album Moondog Matinee. It was also used in a famous bathtub scene in the cult movie The Lost Boys with actor Corey Haim singing along to it.
On his 1981 Live/Indian Summer album, Al Stewart introduced his song "Year of the Cat" with an odd anecdote about a mistaken-identity encounter involving Henry, Audrey Hepburn, and G. Gordon Liddy. Henry's original song was later featured on the soundtrack of the 1982 film Diner. Rod Stewart uses the chorus of "Ain't Got No Home" in his 1984 single "Some Guys Have All the Luck". It achieved fresh notoriety in the 1990s through its use as the "Homeless Update" theme music on The Rush Limbaugh Show, and is still used as recently as December 7, 2017.
This song is also in the 1995 movie Casino playing in the background as Joe Pesci asks Robert De Niro for a 50K chip marker. Jimmy Buffett referenced Henry in his song "Saxophones". Henry made a cameo appearance on the third season opening episode of the HBO series Treme.
His 1961 hit, (I Don't Know Why) But I Do, has been covered by Bobby Vinton in 1972 in a pop version. It is also being used in a 2019 commercial for Expedia, showcasing its ability to provide dog-friendly hotel accommodations.
|Year||Single (A-side, B-side)||Chart Positions|
|1956||"Ain't Got No Home"
b/w "Troubles, Troubles"
b/w "I'm A Country Boy"
|"It Won't Be Long"
b/w "I Found A Home"
|1958||"I'm In Love"
b/w "Baby, Baby Please"
|1961||"(I Don't Know Why) But I Do"
b/w "Just My Baby and Me"
|"You Always Hurt the One You Love"
b/w "Little Suzy"
b/w "Why Can't You"
|"On Bended Knees"
b/w "Standing In The Need Of Love"
|1962||"A Little Too Much"
b/w "I Wish I Could Say The Same"
|"Dream Myself A Sweetheart"
b/w "Lost Without You"
|"The Jealous Kind"
b/w "Come On and Dance"
|1963||"It Takes Two To Tango"
b/w "If I Didn't Care"
b/w "Long Lost and Worried"
|"Have You Ever Been Lonely"
b/w "Little Green Frog"
|1965||"You Can't Hide A Tear"
b/w "I Told My Pillow"
|"Tore Up Over You"
b/w "I Might As Well"
|1966||"Ain't Got No Home" (re-recorded version)
b/w "Baby Ain't That Love"
b/w "Think It Over"
|1967||"Hummin' A Heartache"
b/w "This Time"
|1968||"That's When I Guessed"
b/w "Shake Your Moneymaker"
|1983||"The Old Piano"
b/w "Keep Your Hands Off Her"
|1993||"(I Don't Know Why) But I Do"
b/w "Ain't Got No Home"
A-side chart reentry
- "Biography by Bill Dahl". AllMusic. Retrieved September 2, 2011.
- "Clarence "Frogman" Henry: An R&B Legend!", Rockabilly Hall of Fame. Retrieved 12 October 2016
- Whitburn, Joel (1996). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-1995. Record Research. p. 190.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 251. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- "Al Stewart – Clarence Frogman Henry Lyrics". Golyr.de. Retrieved 2015-07-17.
- Burdeau, Cain (October 5, 2003). "New Orleans 'Frogman,' still jumpin' at 66". Associated Press
- "Expedia TV Commercial, 'Pet Friendly Spa Weekend' Song by Clarence "Frogman" Henry". iSpot.tv.
- Rosen, Jody (25 June 2019). "Here Are Hundreds More Artists Whose Tapes Were Destroyed in the UMG Fire". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 June 2019.
- Whitburn, Joel (2003). Top Pop Singles 1955-2002 (1st ed.). Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. p. 311. ISBN 0-89820-155-1.
- Betts, Graham (2004). Complete UK Hit Singles 1952-2004 (1st ed.). London: Collins. p. 92. ISBN 0-00-717931-6.