Darktown Strutters' Ball

Words & Music by Shelton Brooks, 1917
Recorded by Benny Goodman, 1945

E7       A      D9           A      F#7
I'll be down to get you in a taxi, Honey,

    B7        Bm7-5       Cdim       B7
You better be ready 'bout half past eight;

E7    Bm7-5   Cdim      E7
  Now dearie, don't be late --

          A        Cdim      Bm7         E7
I want to be there when the band starts playing.

       A      D9     A          F#7
And remember when we get there, Honey,

B7         D9          Cdim      B7
Two-steps, I'm goin' to have 'em all.

          D9       D6       G#7
Goin' to dance out both my shoes

Cdim       A        C#7         F#7
When they play the "Jelly Roll Blues"

First Time:

   B7    Cdim         E7       Bm7-5       A   Edim  E7  Cdim - E7
Tomorrow night at the Darktown Strutters' Ball.

Last Time:

   B7    Cdim         E7       Bm7-5       A
Tomorrow night at the Darktown Strutters' Ball.

This is another classic example of a song whose refrain became so well-known that it completely overshadowed the verses (there were two of them) -- to such a degree that I haven't yet even been able to locate an audio source that has them, even though finding the lyrics was not difficult.

I found this historical information on the 'Net:

'Darktown Strutters' Ball.' One of the earliest traditional jazz songs to become a standard. The words and music, by Shelton Brooks, were inspired by a ball at the 1915 Pacific-Panama Exposition in San Francisco. The music, in arrangements for band and for orchestra, was first published 18 Jan 1917 by Will Rossiter, Chicago. The version recorded 30 Jan 1917 by the Original Dixieland Jazz Band may be the earliest commercially made jazz record. 'Darktown Strutters' Ball' was subsequently recorded by many pop and jazz artists, including the Six Brown Brothers (1917), the Brunswick Military Band (Brunswick 5170, 1918), Miff Mole's Molers (1928), Trump Davidson (1937), Jimmy Dorsey (1938), and Benny Goodman (1945). The song has also been recorded by musicians as varied as Ella Fitzgerald, the Lawrence Welk Orchestra, and the Beach Boys. It was selected in 1963 by ASCAP for its All-Time Hit Parade. It has often been featured in film soundtracks. 'Darktown Strutters' Ball' has been arranged for barbershop ensemble, piano solo, brass quintet, and choir.

--Betty Nygaard King

The lyric and guitar chord transcriptions on this site are the work of The Guitarguy and are intended for private study, research, or educational purposes only. Individual transcriptions are inspired by and and based upon the recorded versions cited, but are not necessarily exact replications of those recorded versions.