tree stands tall among the everglades, a man’s talents has to
measured by his ability. Shorty Long’s ability was to
audiences and have lots of fun at the same time.
Frederick Earl Long was born on May 20, 1940, in Birmingham,
earned the nickname ‘shorty’ because of his diminutive height
Shorty’s interest in music came through his rearing at
Birmingham Baptist Church where he mastered the piano. His
influences were Johnny Ace and Little Willie John. His early
a Birmingham club called the Old Stable. He landed his first
professional job as a musician as a host on a radio show
legendary Ink Spots. Shorty was a gifted musician that played
instruments; piano, drums, organ, trumpet and harmonica.
arrived in Detroit in 1959 and was signed on Harvey Fuqua’s
Tri-Phi and recorded 3 singles, ‘I'll Be There’ b/w ‘Bad
Smart’ and ‘Going Away’ b/w ‘What’s The Matter’.
Harvey Fuqua married Berry Gordy’s sister Gwen, his Harvey/
labels and signed artists, including Shorty, became a part
corporation in 1963.
inaugurated Berry Gordy’s subsidiary Soul label (intended for
artists) with ‘Devil With The Blue Dress On’ in March 1964.
it never charted for Long, it became a huge hit for
Ryder & The Detroit Wheels in October 1966. ‘Out To Get
b/w ‘ It’s Crying Shame’ was Shorty’s second uncharted
in August 1964. Shorty is featured on harmonica on this
waited two years before his next release. ‘Function At
Junction’ b/w ‘Call on Me’ a funky good time dance classic
(No. 42 on Billboard’s R&B singles chart Nov 26, 1966).
by Long and Eddie Holland, they follow the footsteps
another tune ‘Wang Dang Doodle’ by Ko Ko Taylor describing
partygoers from Ling Ting Tong from China to the cast members
popular TV series at the time, ‘I Spy’. The lyrics cleverly
camouflages each partygoers from diversion backgrounds, to come
come all and have a ball. ‘Function At The Junction’ was
in March 1966 but died a quick death. It was revamped
fall of 66’ when a popular line dance developed in Chicago.
was dedicated to heroes of rock ‘n ’roll when he remade the
Bopper’s 1958 classic hit ‘Chantilly Lace’ b/w Your Love’s
action) in January 1967. He collaborated with the late
Paul and compose a classic follow-up to ‘Function At The
Junction’ with ‘Night Fo’ Last’ b/w ‘Night Fo’ Last (instr.)
R&B March 30, 1968). Long’s next release would gain him
international stardom with ‘Here Comes The Judge’. Written by
Billie Jean Brown (who supervised Motown’s Quality Control
Department) and Suzanne De Passe (assistant to Berry Gordy at
the song was based on a satire (featured on NBC’s No. 1 comedy
Rowan and Martin’s Laugh In) created by legendary comedian
Markham, about a judge. Sammy Davis Jr. was cast as the
barrister who warns the members of the court the judge’s
in May 1968, ‘Here Comes The Judge’ backed with ‘Sing
Wanna’ hit (No. 4 R&B on July 13, 1968) battling a chart
competition with Pigmeat Markham’s release on Chess Records
1968 (No. 4 R&B July 27, 1968). The ‘heeear ye’ opening
Shorty’s version was contributed by Sammy Davis Jr. who at the
negotiating a deal with Motown. A self-titled ‘Here Comes
Judge’ LP was issued in the fall of 1968.
assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King and Robert F.
Shorty traded his novelty trademark for a more subdued
with a release of ‘I Had A Dream’ b/w ‘Ain’t No Justice’
February 1969 and his last release, ‘A Whiter Shade Of Pale.
Sunday, June 29, 1969, Shorty Long was fishing along the
River when suddenly a big tanker was coming down
and overturned his boat. Sadly, he drowned and died
instantly. During the fall of 69’, Motown issued a posthumous
entitled, ‘The Prime Of Shorty Long’. Shorty’s legacy was
honored with an induction into the Alabama Jazz Hall Of
Long’s contribution to the music world will continue
testament to a man who’s stature was measure
talents not by his height. He is truly one of the unsung
the Motown Sound.
(Chancellor of Soul)
Materials should not be used or altered without
permission of the author, Mike Boone (Chancellor of Soul)