The Coasters singles chronology
“The Shadow Knows”
(1958) “Charlie Brown”
(1959) “Along Came Jones”
“Charlie Brown (he’s a clown)”
is a popular Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller song that was a top-ten hit for The Coasters in the spring of 1959 (released in January, coupled with “Three Cool Cats,” Atco 6132). It went to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles charts, and was the first of three top-ten hits for the Coasters that year. It is best known for the phrase, “Why’s everybody always pickin’ on me?”
According to Jerry Leiber, “After ‘Yakety Yak,’ I thought we could write every Coasters song in ten minutes. Man, was I wrong! When we tried to write a follow-up, Mike had lots of musical ideas, but I was stuck. … After nearly a week of agonizing, a simple name came to mind. ‘Charlie Brown.’ Then, ‘He’s a clown, that Charlie Brown.’ Mike already had a skip-along melodic template in place. He helped me with the story and suddenly a character, played by Dub Jones, stepped out on stage.”
Towards the end of the bridge of the song, the words “Yeah, You!” were recorded at half speed, so the voices would play back at a higher pitch. King Curtis plays the tenor saxophone during the instrumental and the fade out of the record.
The best-known version of the song is in mono. However, a stereo version (with slightly different vocals) was released on the LP Atlantic History of Rhythm & Blues, Vol. 4, along with several other rare stereo versions of late 1950s Atlantic hits.
There have been over 80 cover versions of the song recorded, including one by British comedy actor Bernard Bresslaw and a German language version (as “Charly Brown”) by Hans Blum, both in 1959. Deep River Boys with Mikkel Flagstad’s orchestra recorded their version in Oslo on August 25, 1960; it was released on the extended play En aften på “Casino Non Stop” 1960 (HMV 7EGN 36). Dr. Lonnie Smith does an extended instrumental version on his live 1969 album Move Your Hand.[better source needed] Guy Mitchell released a cover version of this song. In 1995, the song was recorded in a ska-punk version by Voodoo Glow Skulls, on their album Firme.