top of page
Black Betty
Song

Black Betty

Ram Jam
Album:
Ram Jam

Meaning of the song Black Betty by Ram Jam


The 20th-century African-American labour ballad "Black Betty" is sometimes ascribed to Huddie "Lead Belly" Ledbetter, even though his early recordings do not feature it. It is one of Lead Belly's several folk material adaptations, according to some sources.


Numerous recordings exist, including as folk and a cappella renditions. The American band Ram Jam eventually recreated the song as a rock hit in 1977, but with altered lyrics. The arrangement of later records, such as hits by Spiderbait and Tom Jones, is still the same.


After leaving the Lemon Pipers, Bill Bartlett founded the band Starstruck. During his tenure at Starstruck, Bartlett composed, recorded, and published Lead Belly's 59-second song "Black Betty" on the group's TruckStar label. "Black Betty" rose to fame in the area. Around Bartlett, producers Jerry Kasenetz and Jeffry Katz in New York created a group called Ram Jam. After the song was re-released, it became a national hit. Actually, Starstruck's initial recording was the same as the Ram Jam version—it was just heavily altered to change the song's arrangement.


The song gained immediate popularity among listeners, peaking at number 18 on the US singles charts. It also entered the top ten in the UK and Australia.


Lyrics of the song Black Betty by Ram Jam


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

Said it weren't none of mine, 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

 

Whoa, 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

Release Date

1977

Songwriter/s

Traditional, Huddie Ledbetter

Producer/s

Jerry Kasenetz, Jeffry Katz

Label/s

Epic

Other Songs

bottom of page