"Gloria" is a rock song classic written by Northern Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison and originally recorded by Morrison's band Them in 1964 and released as the B-side of "Baby, Please Don't Go". The song became a garage rock staple and a part of many rock bands' repertoires. It is particularly memorable for its "G–L–O–R–I–A" chorus. It is easy to play, as a simple three-chord song, and thus is popular with those learning to play guitar. The song continues to be played by thousands of bands from famous recording artists to unknown garage bands.

Contents[edit | edit source]

 [hide*1 History

History[edit][edit | edit source]

Morrison said that he wrote "Gloria" while he performed with the Monarchs in Germany in the summer of 1963, at just about the time he turned eighteen years old.[1] He started to perform it at the Maritime Hotel when he returned to Belfast and joined up with the Gamblers to form the band Them. He would ad-lib lyrics as he performed, sometimes stretching the song to fifteen or twenty minutes. After signing a contract with Dick Rowe and Decca, Them went to London for a recording session at Decca Three Studios in West Hampstead on 5 July 1964; "Gloria" was one of the seven songs recorded that day. Besides Morrison, present were Billy Harrison on guitar, Alan Henderson on bass, Ronnie Millings on drums and Patrick John McCauley onkeyboards. Rowe brought in session musicians Arthur Greenslade on organ, Jimmy Page on guitar, and Bobby Graham on drums, since he considered the Them members too inexperienced. There remains some dispute about whether Millings and McCauley were miked up, but Alan Henderson contends that Them constituted the first rock group to use two drummers on a recording.[2] Gloria was the B-side, when "Baby, Please Don't Go" was released in the U.K. on 6 November 1964. It was re-released in 1973 on the Deram label, but did not chart.

Appearances[edit][edit | edit source]

Original studio recording by Them[edit][edit | edit source]

Studio version with John Lee Hooker[edit][edit | edit source]

Live versions by Van Morrison[edit][edit | edit source]

Cover versions[edit][edit | edit source]

  • The Gants (from the album Roadrunner) – earliest known cover version released in November 1965.
  • The Bobby Fuller Four (around the time of the song's original popularity in 1965) covered the song live by at P.J.'s Night Club, which was recorded as a track and released on Live at PJ's Plus!.
  • Shadows of Knight single released in December 1965 (later included in the album Gloria). Reached number 10 in 1966, topping the original in the U.S. only in areas where Them's version could not be played, because it contained the words, "She comes to my room". Some radio stations objected to this, most notably Chicago's station WLS. The Chicago-based band Shadows of Knight's version replaced this line with "She calls out my name."[3][4]
  • Status Quo (under name The Spectres) at Saturday Club, BBC on 10/09/1966; and as Status Quo at David Symonds Show on 8/4/68 and 12/4/68.
  • The Doors covered the song between 1968 and 1970. One of these performances was released on Alive, She Cried (1983) (number 18 on Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks and number 71 on Billboard Hot 100 in 1983). The same version can be found on the The Very Best of The Doors compilation album.
  • AC/DC covered the song regularly in their early formation; lead singer Bon Scott had previously performed "Gloria" with his first group, The Spektors.
Single by Patti Smith Group
from the album Horses
B-side "My Generation"
Released 1976
Format Vinyl 7"
Recorded Electric Lady Studios, 1975
Genre Punk rock
Length 5:57
Label Arista
Writer(s) Van MorrisonPatti Smith
Producer John Cale
Patti Smith singles chronology
"Hey Joe"




"[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pissing_in_a_River Pissing

in a River]" (1976)

Audio sample
MENU  0:00 file info · help

Acclaim[edit][edit | edit source]

One explanation for the timeless popularity of the song was offered in Allmusic's review by Bill Janovitz:[13]

The beauty of the original is that Van Morrison needs only to speak-sing, in his Howlin' Wolf growl, "I watch her come up to my house/She knocks upon my door/And then she comes up to my room/I want to say she makes me feel all right/G-L-O-R-I-A!" to convey his teenage lust. The original Latin meaning of the name is not lost on Morrison. Them never varies from the three chords, utilizing only dynamic changes to heighten the tension.

"Gloria" was rated number 69 on Dave Marsh's list in the 1989 book The Heart of Rock & Soul: The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made. He described the song as "one of the few rock songs that's actually as raunchy as its reputation."[14]

In his book Rock and Roll: The 100 Best SinglesPaul Williams said about the two sides of the "Baby Please Don't Go/Gloria" recording: "Into the heart of the beast... here is something so good, so pure, that if no other hint of it but this record existed, there would still be such a thing as rock and roll.... Van Morrison's voice a fierce beacon in the darkness, the lighthouse at the end of the world. Resulting in one of the most perfect rock anthems known to humankind."[15]

Humourist Dave Barry joked that "You can throw a guitar off a cliff, and as it bounces off rocks on the way down, it will, all by itself, play Gloria."[16]

In 1999, "Gloria" by Them received the Grammy Hall of Fame Award.[17] In 2000, "Gloria" by Them was listed as number 81 on VH1's list of The 100 Greatest Rock Songs of All Time.[18] In 2004, "Gloria" by Them was ranked #211 onRolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.[19] "Gloria" was also included in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll twice: by Patti Smith and by Shadows of Knight.[20]

In the media[edit][edit | edit source]

Them's recording of the song appeared in an episode of TV series The Sopranos, "Pine Barrens", accompanying the appearance of Annabella Sciorra's character Gloria Trillo. "Gloria" by Them was played a number of times in the 1983 film The Outsiders and also sung while fending off the monster in the jukebox musical, Return to the Forbidden Planet. It was also professional skateboarder Jim Greco's song in the video "Baker 2g".

Charts[edit][edit | edit source]


Chart (1965)[21] Position
Billboard Hot 100 93
Chart (1966)[21] Position
Billboard Hot 100 71

Shadows of Knight

Chart (1966)[22] Position
Billboard Hot 100 10

Van Morrison and John Lee Hooker

Chart (1993)[23][24][25][26] Position
Irish Singles Chart 17
UK Singles Chart 31
Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks 36
Australia 22
Netherlands 37
  • 1 As a B-side on 1964 single "Baby, Please Don't Go", the original recording charted at number 10 in the UK mostly due to the popularity of "Gloria".
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