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.”