Pop Archives

The Purple Hearts - Early In The Morning (1966)

(Traditional, arr. Purple Hearts)
Australia Australia
#9 Melbourne #13 Brisbane

The Purple Hearts emerged in Brisbane 1963-64 and removed briefly to Sydney before becoming a popular live band in Melbourne from 1966. 

Founding members Mick Hadley and Bob Dames, recent arrivals from the UK, had first-hand experience of the London R&B scene, and the band was strongly influenced by the likes of John Mayall, Graham Bond, the early Rolling Stones and – through them – authentic American blues. Essential to the Purple Hearts' image as an uncompromising R&B band were vocalist Hadley and lead guitarist Barry Lyde, later known as Lobby Loyde.

Lobby Loyde, interviewed at Wild About You, says that although he knew Graham Bond's British version of Early In The Morning he was already familiar with the traditional song through his father's collection of records which included prison work songs.

The B-side of Early In The Morning was Rosco Gordon's Just A Little Bit. See also Of Hopes And Dreams And Tombstones.

References: 1. Ian McFarlane, Encyclopedia of Australian Rock & Pop (1999), pp. 500-501. 2. Purple Hearts history and discography at Milesago.

Further reading: 1. Interview with Lobby Loyde at Wild About You (I’d actually heard the original of 'Early In The Morning' – which was kind of like a prison work song — the Graham Bond Organisation had a version… that was sort of off-beat 6/8. And ours sort of fell in the middle between the American and the English versions I guess). 2. Purple Hearts by Mick Hadley from AintGotNoFeelin.com [archived page].

Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated - Early In The Morning (1964)

(Traditional, arr. Ginger Baker)
Influential version

On Decca album R&B, August 1964, a collection of tracks by various British rhythm'n'blues bands. This appears to be the track that later appeared as a bonus  on the CD reissue of Alexis Korner's Blues Incorporated.

The arranger is drummer Ginger Baker who was with Blues Incorporated before joining the Graham Bond Organisation (see above). Later and most famously he would form Cream with Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce.

References: 1. R&B album details at Discogs.com.

Further readingRecord Reviews from GrahamBond.net [archived page].

The Graham Bond Organisation - Early In The Morning (1965)

(Traditional, arr. Ginger Baker)
Influential version

On Columbia album The Sound Of '65. This is a vocal version, unlike earlier versions by Graham Bond and Alexis Korner (see below).

References: 1. The Sound of '65 album details at Discogs.com. 2. Excerpt from Harry Shapiro’s 1992 biography of Graham Bond at Graeme Pattingale's GBO pages.


The Graham Bond Organisation - Early In The Morning (1964)

(Traditional, arr. Ginger Baker)

Recorded live at West Hampstead venue Klook's Kleek, October 1964, apparently unreleased at the time but later included on retrospective collections, for example on the Charly reissue label.

By now Ginger Baker, arranger of Early In The Morning, was with The Graham Bond Organisation. The song is introduced as one of Ginger Baker's own numbers… based on a prison work song.

Ginger Baker later recorded Early In The Morning on the 1970 live album Ginger Baker's Air Force.

The songwriter credit for this recording is often shown as W. Harris – B. Darlin (sic), a mix-up with the Woody Harris – Bobby Darin composition recorded by Bobby Darin and by Buddy Holly (see below).

Reference: Ginger Baker Discography – LPs – Part 1 from ginger-baker.com [archived page].

Further reading: Klook's Kleek background and reminiscence at Down the Lane – The Blog.

Buddy Holly - Early In The Morning (1958)

(Woody Harris - Bobby Darin)
Red herring
#32 USA


First released (for complicated reasons) by Bobby Darin himself as The Ding-Dongs and later as The Rinky Dinks (1958, #24 USA).

References: 1. Session notes for 'Early In The Morning' at BobbyDarin.net. 2. Song history by Arnold Rypens at The Originals.

Hard Hair, Little Red & Tangle Eye (prisoners At Parchman Farm) - Early In The Mornin’ (1947)

Original version

Prison work song, also known as The Woodpecker and perhaps also as Ro-Berta

Field recording made in 1947 by Alan Lomax (1915-2002) at Mississippi State Penitentiary (Parchman Farm), released on the album Negro Prison Songs in 1959. Lomax's field recordings were well-known and influential in the American and British folk scenes. 

A number of prison worksongs entitled Early In The Morning have been collected by folklorists, but this one is clearly the source of the song recorded by British r&b bands in the 1960s. Lobby Loyde of Australia's Purple Hearts also knew this traditional song.

I am indebted to some well-informed threads at the Mudcat Cafe forum. See especially posts by Barry Finn in 1997 and in 2008 which include lyrics that intersect in several places with the 60s r&b song. Finn refers to the song as a "double axe cutting prison work song". See also this 2009 thread at Mudcat which includes a further post by Barry Finn about other work songs called 'Early In The Morning'.

Alan Lomax's recording of 'Early In The Morning' by prisoner Johnny Lee Moore YouTube is a different song. It appeared on the album Southern Journey, Vol. 5: Bad Man Ballads (1959

Further reading: 1. Alan Lomax discography and list of field trips at CulturalEquity.com. 2. Wikipedia articles on Lomax and Parchman Farm. 3. External Links at Wikipedia's Alan Lomax article.

Audio: NPR tribute to Alan Lomax, 2002.

Chants R&B - Early In The Morning (1966)

New Zealand New Zealand

Christchurch band, originally known simply as Chants, resident at Christchurch venue The Stage Door. Late in 1966 the band moved to Melbourne where they broke up a few months later. A notable founding member was Mike Rudd, later with Australian bands Party Machine, Spectrum, Ariel and Mike Rudd & The Heaters. Early In The Morning was recorded in 1966 but appears to have been unreleased until the CD collection Stage Door Witchdoctors in 2000.

See also I Feel Good.

References: 1. David Johnston, The Music Goes Round My Head, p. 111. 2. Chants R&B page at Bruce Sergent's NZ music site. 3. Stage Door Witchdoctors track listing at Wikipedia.

Further reading: 1. ChantsRandB.com 2. Story of Chants R&B in Melbourne at MikeRuddBillPutt.com. See also reminiscences by fans of Chants R&B.

Johnny Lee Moore - Early In The Morning (1959)

Red herring


Another prison work song entitled Early In The Morning YouTube, also collected by Alan Lomax.

This is not the song Lomax recorded from Hard Hair, Little Red & Tangle Eye at Parchment Farm and released on Negro Prison Songs (1959).

This one appeared on the album Southern Journey, Vol. 5: Bad Man Ballads (1959).

Further reading: See above, under Hard Hair, Little Red & Tangle Eye.

Vanity Fare - Early In The Morning (1969)

(Mike Leander - Edward Seago)
Red herring
#8 UK #12 USA #21 Sydney #12 Melbourne #18 Adelaide #26 Perth


Single on Page One by British group who followed this up with Hitchin' A Ride, their biggest US hit (#16 UK, #5 USA).

A version of this Early In The Morning by Cliff Richard (1969) was not released in the UK but charted in some parts of the world including Adelaide where it co-charted with Vanity Fare's release.

Robert Palmer's 1988 single Early In The Morning is a different song again, another of many with this title (wr. Simmons-Taylor-Wilson, #19 USA #24 Sydney #22 Melbourne #22 Brisbane #19 Adelaide). 

Need it be said that the song title Early In The Morning is a rich source of Red herrings? Too many for me to list, certainly. If you see a recording of Early In The Morning don't assume it's the same as the Purple Hearts' song.

Thanks to Erik Alm for version alert.