"I'm Henery the Eighth, I Am" (also "I'm Henery the VIII, I Am" or "I'm Henry VIII, I Am"; spelled "Henery" but pronounced "'Enery" in the Cockney style normally used to sing it) is a 1910 British music hall song by Fred Murray and R. P. Weston. It was a signature song of the music hall star Harry Champion.
|"I'm Henry the Eighth, I Am"|
|Song by Harry Champion|
|"I'm Henry VIII, I Am"|
|Single by Herman's Hermits|
|from the album Herman's Hermits and Their Second Album! Herman's Hermits on Tour|
|B-side||"The End of the World"|
|Recorded||De Lane Lea Studios, London, 1 February 1965|
|Herman's Hermits singles chronology|
Joe Brown included the song on his first album A Picture of You in 1962. But in 1965, it became the fastest-selling song in history to that point when it was revived by Herman's Hermits, becoming the group's second number-one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, dethroning "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction". Despite that success, the single was not released in the UK. The song is one of the shortest (in length) number one singles in the US of all time.
In the well-known chorus, Henery explains that his wife had been married seven times before, each time to another Henery:
I'm 'Enery the Eighth, I am,
'Enery the Eighth I am, I am!
I got married to the widow next door,
She's been married seven times before
And every one was an 'Enery
She wouldn't have a Willie nor a Sam
I'm her eighth old man named 'Enery
'Enery the Eighth, I am!
However, in the Hermits' version, Peter Noone ends each chorus with "I'm her eighth old man, I'm 'Enery" and never sings "named".
Harry Champion versionEdit
According to one source, Champion "used to fire off [the chorus] at tremendous speed with almost desperate gusto, his face bathed in sweat and his arms and legs flying in all directions." In later versions recorded by Champion, "Willie" is changed to "William" because the former is a British slang term for "penis."
Joe Brown versionEdit
Joe Brown first released the song as a single in June of 1961 on the Picadilly label. George Harrison was a fan of Brown's and sang the song as part of the Beatles' early repertoire. (The group never recorded their version.)
Herman's Hermits versionEdit
The rock and roll stylings of the song gave Herman's Hermits their second US number one hit; it contains only the chorus (and none of the three verses) of the original. As a result, the tune is a mere one minute and fifty seconds long, one of the shortest-ever songs to top the Billboard singles chart. In their short and fast take of the song, the guitar and bass are considered proto-punk and were a direct influence on the Ramones,  (indeed the song "Judy Is A Punk" includes the line "Second verse, same as the first" as in the Hermits' tune.) The speedy guitar work at the break by lead guitarist Derek Leckenby evokes Chuck Berry sonically (e. g. “Johnny B. Goode”) then memorably shifts into quoting the melody. Billboard praised the song's "strong dance beat and vocal performance."
They performed the song on Hullabaloo as well as The Ed Sullivan Show. This version was also performed on the third season premiere of The Jimmy Dean Show with Jimmy Dean and Jim Henson's Rowlf the Dog wearing wigs, three months after Herman's performance on Sullivan.
In 1961, this song was recorded and extensively performed live by the British star Joe Brown, who revived the song and made it largely known in the British pop world. His version has two choruses either side of his guitar solo (B-side, Piccadilly Records 7N 35005). To the present day, Brown often performs it in concert.
Title and lyricsEdit
The song is traditionally sung in a Cockney accent. Earlier sources usually spell the name "Henery" (as do some old sources when referring to the historical King of England and Ireland), and the music requires the name "Henery" (or "'Enery") to be pronounced as three syllables. The sheet music for the 1965 Herman's Hermits revival, however, presented the name as "Henry", as do sources referring to this version.
In the Herman's Hermits version, the band sings the lyrics three times. Between the first two choruses, Peter Noone calls out, "Second verse, same as the first!". The background singers on the version recorded by Connie Francis use this call as well.
In popular cultureEdit
- In the film Ghost, Sam (Patrick Swayze) sings this song on a continuous run in a bad Cockney London accent all night long, to Oda Mae Brown (Whoopi Goldberg) to annoy her into helping him.
- Homer Simpson - in the persona of Henry VIII - sings a parody of this song in The Simpsons episode "Margical History Tour", with the lyrics referencing Henry's voracious appetite.
- Alvin and the Chipmunks covered this song.
- The original Harry Champion version of the song was used as the titles music of The Libertines music documentary 'There Are No Innocent Bystanders'.
- MacInnes, Colin (1965) "The Old English Music Hall Songs Are New". The New York Times, November 28, 1965, p. SM62: "Henery — which hit the top of the record lists and, according to one American expert, was 'the fastest-selling song in history' — was in fact an old English music hall song enjoying a new lease on life. Description of Champion's performance: p. 95. Spelling of title: image on p. 62 shows title presented in all-caps, "I'M HENRY VIII, I AM." Text of article, however, uses the spelling "Henery" throughout, even when referring to the Herman's Hermits revival. Perhaps the most correct spelling is "'Enery"; that is certainly how Harry pronounces it.
- "Original versions of I'm Henery the Eighth I Am by Joe Brown [GB] | SecondHandSongs". SecondHandSongs.
- George Harrison: Behind the Locked Door. Omnibus Press. 17 September 2013. ISBN 9780857128584.
- Viglione, Joe. I'm Henry the VIII, I Am at AllMusic. Retrieved 25 April 2019.
- "Spotlight Singles" (PDF). Billboard. June 26, 1965. p. 43. Retrieved 2021-03-12.
- "The best quality episodes of Hullabaloo". The Video Beat. Retrieved 25 April 2019.
- "flavour of new zealand - search lever". Flavourofnz.co.nz. Retrieved 8 January 2021.
- "SA Charts 1965–March 1989". Retrieved 5 September 2018.
- Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955–1990 - ISBN 0-89820-089-X
- "Cash Box Top 100 8/07/65". Cashboxmagazine.com. Retrieved 8 January 2021.
- [permanent dead link]
- "Cash Box Year-End Charts: Top 100 Pop Singles, December 25, 1965". Archived from the original on May 10, 2017. Retrieved October 13, 2019.
- Sharpe, R. A. (2005). Philosophy of Music: An Introduction. McGill-Queen's Press. ISBN 0-7735-2928-4. "I shall give an example of the first, Harry Champion's music-hall song 'I'm Henery the Eighth, I Am', although I suspect readers may not thank me. (You probably won't be able to dislodge it from your mind for a week or two). p. 161
- Lawrence, D. H. (1987). Mr. Noon. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-27247-5. "He strayed on inconsequentially, singing: Henery the eighth I am, I am/Henery the eighth I am" p. 258
- Child, Francis James; George Lyman Kittredge (1883). The English and Scottish Popular Ballads. Houghton, Mifflin. "And lowlye kneeled his prince before/And sayd, My soueraigne king, Henery the Eighth" p. 356
- Guiheen, Anna Marie (1995). Sheet Music Reference and Price Guide. Collector Books. ISBN 0-89145-648-1. "I'm Henry the Eighth I Am by Fred Murray and L. P. Weston, 1965, Herman's Hermits" p. 102
- "I'm Henry VIII, I Am - YouTube". YouTube. Archived from the original on 2021-12-22. Retrieved 8 January 2021.