Chuck Berry’s biggest hit, and although often thought of as his composition, this song made its first appearance in 1952 under the name “My Tambourine” when it was recorded by Dave Bartholomew, who was responsible for Fats Domino’s and Smiley Lewis’ recordings and often wrote their songs. In 1954 the group The Bees recorded it under the title “Toy Bell” and in 1966 Chuck Berry recorded it as “My Tambourine”.
Chuck Berry recorded it again in 1972 as “My Ding a Ling” while live in concert in Coventry, England, being backed by the Roy Young Band and Onnie McIntyre of the Average White Band, and this time it topped the charts in the US and the UK, making it his only No. 1 single. He took credit for the song, but Dave Bartholomew challenged this and it is he that is credited in the Blues Hall of Fame as the rightful composer.
The song is riddled with innuendos and many radio stations in the UK would not play it with an unsuccessful motion to ban it by Mary Whitehouse who was a British moral campaigner. A lampoon of the song has been seen in the cartoon series The Simpsons.
Chuck Berry recordings
Chess CH 2131 (CH 2228-E) (US 45)