Ram Jam “Black Betty”

“Black Betty”

The single version of this song by Ram Jam was all over the radio in 1977 and for many years after but I don’t ever recall hearing anything else off of their debut album Ram Jam or their second album from 1978 called Portrait of the Artist as a Young Ram, I even hear it every so often now days in my travels.

Lead guitarist and vocalist Bill Bartlett took one of the legendary Lead Belly’s tunes and turned it into 2 1/2 minutes (radio version) of pure rock & roll.
Back in the 60’s Ram Jam Bill was in the band The Lemon Pipers. How many remember the famous bubblegum pop song Green Tambourine (I’ll add a link of the widget if you have forgotten how it goes).

Bartlett who sings lead on Black Betty teams up with the late (1993) bass player Howard Arthur Blauvelt, the late (2002) drummer Pete Charles, guitarist Jimmy Santoro and lead singer Myke Scavone who is still putting out music with a group called The Doughboys and the latest version of The Yardbirds to give us “Whoa, Black Betty, bam-ba-lam
Whoa, Black Betty, bam-ba-lam
Black Betty had a child, bam-ba-lam
The damn thing gone wild, bam-ba-lam
Said it weren’t none of mine, bam-ba-lam
The damn thing gone blind, bam-ba-lam
I said oh, Black Betty, bam-ba-lam
Whoa, Black Betty, bam-ba-lam…”

Update 2/15/2019: Due to a couple comments posted by a user more information was needed and I found this little tid bit in Wikipedia about Ram Jam that I found interesting.
“While in Starstruck, Bartlett took Lead Belly’s 59 second long “Black Betty” and arranged, recorded and released it on the group’s own TruckStar label. “Black Betty” became a regional hit, then was picked up by producers in New York who formed a group around Bartlett called Ram Jam. They re-released the song, and it became a hit nationally. The Ram Jam “recording” was actually the same one originally recorded by Starstruck, the band at that time composed of Bartlett (lead guitar and vocals), Tom Kurtz (rhythm guitar and vocals), David Goldflies (bass), and David Fleeman (drums). The rest of the tracks on the first studio album containing “Black Betty” were played by the Ram Jam lineup.”


20 thoughts on “Ram Jam “Black Betty”

    • Ef
      Thanks for your comments. I have done more research besides watching my posted video which clearly shows Bartlett singing and posted some updated information. My Black Betty record is a 45 so it has zero information on it for me to fall back to. Stills gets much play through my juke box.


  1. The Lemon Pipers hail from Oxford, Ohio, located right up the road from me. “Green Tambourine” was one of the better flower-psych tunes from that era, although their earlier stuff was more earthy. My big memory of Ram Jam was the guy down the hall from me, freshman year, used to play one album repeatedly till he tired of it, and Ram Jam was one of his picks (along with Starcastle and Dan Fogelberg’s “Nether Lands”).

    Liked by 1 person

        • I was really into Trower at that time also and just starting to hear and like Pat Travers a lot. “Betty” was one of those that you didn’t buy and listen to at home because it was on the radio every 15 minutes. Hendrix clicked with me a little later thanks to SRV’s version of Little Wing. Always new the staples by Hendrix but then I started to listen to some of his back catalog stuff.


    • It’s funny I don’t really listen to FM classic rock stations much anymore but that one day I did for about a half hour. So your right that it must be a staple and I agree with you that for it’s style GT is not that bad to hear once in a while.


      • Yeah, I don’t much either. I have satellite in one car, not in the other. If I’m stuck wit the other …. So then I get to hear the same three songs over and over again.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yea radio has went downhill. That same day I stayed on that one station for a good 15 minutes before changing the channel. Most of the time it’s 5 minutes change channel, change channel, screw it off to a CD some day I will invest in a satellite capable radio


          • On my local classic rock station, you can be sure to here “Who Are You,” “Whole Lotta Love,” and “Light My Fire” if you stick around long enough. You can set your watch by it.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Here it goes by group and which of the three to five songs by one of them will they play. AC/DC (tons), Zeppelin, Van Halen, Floyd (same three songs), Guns & Roses and a couple others

              Liked by 1 person

  2. Not a track I hear too often at all. I got to know this through a brief stint helping out a friend’s cover band… this was one of their set staples and I fell in love with it.

    Liked by 1 person

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