Classic Irma Thomas, Dr. John recordings inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame 2021 class | Music

Melissa M. Munoz

What do Dr. John’s “In the Right Place” album, Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’,” the Village People’s “Y.M.C.A.,” the Beastie Boys’ “License to Ill” and the Irma Thomas version of “Time Is On My Side” have in common?

They were all among the 29 recordings announced Monday as inductees into the 2021 class of the Grammy Hall of Fame.

The Grammy Hall of Fame, which now includes more than 1,100 works, honors recordings with “qualitative or historical significance.” To be eligible for consideration by the nominating committee, a recording must be at least 25 years old.

A number of recordings from Louisiana artists, including Fats Domino, Louis Armstrong, Professor Longhair, Mahalia Jackson and even Gov. Jimmie Davis (for his “You Are My Sunshine”) were previously inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

Mac “Dr. John” Rebennack received the New Orleans equivalent of a state funeral.

Mac “Dr. John” Rebennack’s “In the Right Place,” produced by Allen Toussaint and featuring legendary New Orleans funk quartet the Meters as the backing band, was released in 1973 to critical and commercial success. One of Rebennack’s most popular albums, it boasts two tracks — “Right Place, Wrong Time” and “Such A Night” — that became standards of his set for the remainder of his career.

Unlike many of the Soul Queen of New Orleans’ other classic singles, Thomas’ “Time Is On My Side” was neither written nor produced by Toussaint.

Mac Rebennack, better known as Dr. John, once said of the music business, “This is about as sometime-y a racket as you can try to be in.”

It was originally recorded by jazz trombonist Kai Winding and his orchestra. Verve Records released Winding’s mostly instrumental version in October 1963.

In early 1964, Imperial Records, which had assumed Thomas’ recording contract after acquiring Minit Records, brought her to Los Angeles to record her “Wish Someone Would Care” album.

She was given a batch of songs from which to choose. She liked a demo recording of “Time Is On My Side” which contained more lyrics than Winding’s original take.

She recorded her version at a Los Angeles studio on La Brea Avenue. Musicians on the track included Earl Palmer, the New Orleanian who became one of the most prolific session drummers of all time, as well as equally prolific bassist Carol Kaye. Jackie DeShannon, who co-wrote another Thomas classic, “Breakaway,” was on guitar. The girl-group the Blossoms, featuring Darlene Love, contributed backing vocals.

The horse-drawn carriage bearing Mac “Dr. John” Rebennack’s body made a slow, dignified turn around the corner of the Saenger Theatre on Satur…

Thomas mostly stuck to the arrangement she heard on the demo tape, but improvised a spoken-word part near the end: “I added a little bit extra embellishment,” she recalled in 2019.

She liked the result more than Imperial did. The company relegated “Time Is On My Side” to the B-side of the “Anyone Who Knows What Love Is (Will Understand)” single.

But several young British musicians very much liked “Time Is On My Side”: Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and the rest of the Rolling Stones. An up-and-coming rock ‘n’ roll band still searching for a breakthrough hit in America, the Stones, like many of their contemporaries, relied on R&B and blues artists for source material. The Stones’ first single, released in June 1963, included covers of Chuck Berry’s “Come On” and bluesman Willie Dixon’s “I Want To Be Loved.”

The Stones released two versions of “Time Is On My Side.” The first, recorded in London in June 1964, featured an organ; it was released as an American single on Sept. 25 and on the album “12 x 5.”

The Stones’ better-known version, with an electric guitar in place of the organ, was recorded in Chicago on Nov. 8, 1964. It was released in the United Kingdom in January 1965 on the album “The Rolling Stones No. 2.”

In late 1964, Thomas traveled to England for a brutal three-week tour, with multiple performances per day, often in different towns. Jagger and Richards attended one of the shows. They gushed over “Time Is On My Side,” Thomas recalled, and said they planned to release their own take on it.

“Time Is On My Side” became the Stones’ first single to crack the Top 10 on the Billboard pop singles chart in America, peaking at No. 6. They kicked off their first appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show” with “Time Is On My Side.” Jagger elicited screams from the teenage girls in the audience every time he slapped his thigh on the “time, time, time” refrain.

It’s one of the great Jazz Fest moments that wasn’t: Irma Thomas and the Rolling Stones performing “Time Is On My Side,” the single they both …

To many casual listeners, “Time Is On My Side” became a “Rolling Stones song,” much to Thomas’ frustration.

“Every time I did it, they said I was doing the Rolling Stones,” she said in 2019. “And I was not doing the Rolling Stones. I was doing Irma!”

Tired of explaining, she eventually dropped “Time Is On My Side” from her set list. She didn’t perform it for more than 20 years.

Finally, Bonnie Raitt, a friend and fan, asked Thomas to sing it with her during a New Year’s Eve 1992 broadcast from New Orleans. Raitt introduced Thomas as “one of the real national treasures of rhythm & blues.”

Now the Grammy Hall of Fame has acknowledged Thomas’ “Time Is On My Side” as a national treasure as well.

The complete list of 2021 Grammy Hall of Fame inductees:

  • “AU CLAIR DE LA LUNE” by Édouard-Léon Scott De Martinville (single)
  •  “BLUES BREAKERS” by John Mayall With Eric Clapton (album)
  •  “CANCIONES DE MI PADRE” by Linda Ronstadt (album)
  • “CLEAN UP WOMAN” by Betty Wright (single)
  • “COPENHAGEN” by Fletcher Henderson And His Orchestra (single)
  • “DON’T STOP BELIEVIN'” by Journey (single)
  • “FREIGHT TRAIN” by Elizabeth Cotten (single)
  •  “GREETINGS FROM ASBURY PARK, N.J.” by Bruce Springsteen (album)
  •  “HORSES” by Patti Smith (album)
  •  “HOT BUTTERED SOUL” by Isaac Hayes (album)
  •  “IN THE RIGHT PLACE” by Dr. John (album)
  •  “LICENSED TO ILL” by the Beastie Boys (album)
  •  “MAD DOGS & ENGLISHMEN” by Joe Cocker (album)
  •  “MERCY, MERCY, MERCY! LIVE AT “THE Club” by the Cannonball Adderley Quintet (album)
  •  “RAVEL: PIANO CONCERTO IN G MAJOR” by Leonard Bernstein With The Philharmonia Orchestra Of London (album)
  • “SCHOENBERG: THE FOUR STRING QUARTETS” by the Kolisch String Quartet (album)
  • “SO” by Peter Gabriel (album)
  • “SOLITUDE” by Billie Holiday (single)
  • “TEN” by Pearl Jam (album)
  • “TEXAS FLOOD” by Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble (album)
  • “THE CARS” by The Cars (album)
  • “THE GAMBLER” by Kenny Rogers (single)
  • “THE LOW END THEORY” by A Tribe Called Quest (album)
  • “TIME IS ON MY SIDE” by Irma Thomas (single)
  • “TRIO” by Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris (album)
  • “WE ARE THE WORLD” by USA For Africa (single)
  • “WHEN THE LEVEE BREAKS” by Kansas Joe and Memphis Minnie (single)
  • “WRECK OF THE OLD 97” by Vernon Dalhart (single)
  • “Y.M.C.A.” by the Village People (single)
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