Published on Aug 14, 2012
"Shake Your Moneymaker" or "Shake Your Money Maker" is a song recorded by Elmore James in 1961 that has become a standard of the blues. Inspired by earlier songs, it has been interpreted and recorded by several blues and other artists. "Shake Your Moneymaker" is included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's list of the "500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll".
In 1958, Chicago blues singer and harmonica player Shakey Jake Harris recorded "Roll Your Moneymaker" with a band including Magic Sam on guitar and Willie Dixon on bass (Artistic 1502). The song, a twelve-bar blues with breaks, featured the chorus "roll your moneymaker". According to one Elmore James biographer, "Chicago blues lore [has it that] drummer/vocalist James Bannister was the author of a tune known as 'Roll Your Moneymaker', but never recorded it" (Bannister had played with J. T. Brown and Magic Sam). It was also noted that the rhythm guitar figure in James' "Shake Your Moneymaker" was inspired by "Got the Blues Can't Be Satisfied", recorded by Mississippi John Hurt in 1928 (OKeh 8724).
Others have suggested that "Shake Your Moneymaker" is a variation on songs that have been traced back to Charlie Patton ("Shake It and Break It" 1929 Paramount 12869) and Bukka White ("Shake 'Em on Down" 1937 Vocalion 03711). However, the song has been also identified as an Elmore James "original".
Elmore James song
"Shake Your Moneymaker" is a up-tempo twelve-bar blues featuring slide guitar. James recorded the song at Cosimo Matassa's J&M Studios in New Orleans, Louisiana during a "candlelight", i.e. non-union, session in the summer of 1961. According to drummer/harp player Sam Myers, James was having problems with the union, so the session took place at night with the lights dimmed so as not to attract the attention of the musician's local. James had assembled a Mississippi version of his backing band, The Broomdusters, for the recordings: Johnny "Big Moose" Walker (piano), Sammy Lee Bully (bass), and King Mose Taylor (drums). After one false start, the second take provided the master used for the single. Although several songs were recorded during the session, only "Shake Your Moneymaker", together with "Look on Yonder Wall", was released at the time.
"Shake Your Moneymaker" became one of James' most well-known songs and a popular dance number. Activist/author James Meredith described witnessing James "working the crowd into a frenzy at Mr. P's, a humble [Mississippi] juke joint" with the song. "Sometimes the band would play it for thirty minutes or longer without stopping, and the crowd would continue to beg for more when it was over".
Paul Butterfield recorded a version of "Shake Your Money-Maker" for the 1965 The Paul Butterfield Blues Band album. In 1968, the song was also included by the original Fleetwood Mac on their debut album Fleetwood Mac. George Thorogood recorded it in 1988 for the Born to Be Bad album. In 1999, a live version was recorded by The Black Crowes with Jimmy Page and released on Live at the Greek. In June 2010, Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck performed the song at Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Festival. It also appears on the 2010 Foghat album Last Train Home.