“Suzie Q” is a song by musician Dale Hawkins recorded late in the rockabilly era in 1957. He wrote it with bandmate Robert Chaisson, but when released, Stan Lewis, the owner of Jewel/Paula Records and whose daughter Susan was the inspiration for the song, and Eleanor Broadwater, the wife of Nashville DJ Gene Nobles, were credited as co-writers to give them shares of the royalties.
Hawkins cut “Susie Q” at the KWKH Radio station in Shreveport, Louisiana. “Susie Q” was a late rockabilly song which captured the spirit of Louisiana and featured guitar work by James Burton, who also worked with Ricky Nelson and later with Elvis Presley, among others.
Sometime after the recording, the master tape of “Susie Q” was sold to Checker Records in Chicago, which released it as a 45 RPM single in May 1957. The single peaked at numbers 7 and 27 on Billboard magazine’s Hot R&B Sides and Hot 100 charts, respectively.
Hawkins’ original version is also included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s “500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll” and in Robert Christgau’s “Basic Record Library” of 1950s and 1960s recordings, published in Christgau’s Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies (1981).
The Rolling Stones.
There is a short cover of “Susie Q” by The Rolling Stones on their US album 12 x 5, which was released in 1964. It also appears on the UK album The Rolling Stones No. 2 released in January 1965.
Johnny Rivers featured a four-minute version of “Suzie Q” on his live 1965 album Meanwhile Back at the Whisky à Go Go.
Bobby Vee included a version of “Susie Q” on his 1961 Liberty album With Strings and Things.
Creedence Clearwater Revival.
Creedence Clearwater Revival released a version on their debut album released in 1968. The band’s only Top 40 hit not written by John Fogerty, it peaked at number 11, but made the top ten on others. This song was one of their first big hits. The album version clocks in at 8:37. The single is split into parts one and two on its A and B sides, respectively. The jam session during the coda is omitted in part one. Instead, it fades out with the guitar solo right before the coda, which fades in with part two on the B-side. Fogerty told Rolling Stone magazine in 1993 that he recorded “Suzie Q” to get the song played on KMPX, a funky progressive-rock radio station in San Francisco, which is why it was extended to eight minutes.
In 1970, Puerto Rican musician José Feliciano released his version of “Susie Q” as a single which reached number 84 on the Billboard Hot 100. His version was rearranged and features several different lyrics.
In 1988, African American singer Bobby McFerrin published an all vocal-version of “Susie Q” on his breakthrough album Simple Pleasures.
He re-composed all instrumental parts into backing vocals, all sung by himself, and also sang the main part.