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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Open the Door, Richard

Tenor sax man Jack McVea had a huge novelty hit in 1947 with "Open the Door Richard", based on a routine made popular in the black vaudeville (AKA "chitlin") circuit by the comedy team of Dusty Fletcher and John Mason. The story is, the whole band goes out celebratin' and inebriatin', Richard goes home early with the only key to the house, and the efforts to rouse him wake the entire neighborhood. Once the tune started taking off, the song was quickly covered by many others, including Louis Jordan, Tommy Dorsey's Pied Pipers, and Count Basie. Seven versions of the song landed in the top 10 on the music charts in that year alone, McVea's only reaching number 4.
Oddly, the only place I can find (what I believe to be) the McVea original is on the soundtrack to the 2000 version of "Lolita" (amid original music by Ennio Morricone). The version I know and love apparently was a much later remake--the one I found at BeBop Wino wasn't the exact re-recording I was looking for, though there are some other great R & B tunes which make it worthwhile to grab. A couple of other killer McVea numbers are included on an album offered on Twilightzone, but my mid-fifties remake of "Open the Door Richard" still eludes me. Can anyone help? In the other two, Jack shouts to an angry neighbor, "Yes it's me, and I'm late again".....in MY version it's "Yes, it's me, and I'm drunk again...I'm gonna stay this way as long as someone else is buying."