Let's start this thread about Money Honey with a version of Basin Street Blues, originally written by Spencer Williams. It was published in 1926 and made famous in a recording by Louis Armstrong in 1928.
In his live recording made at the Monterey Jazz festival in 1963, Jack Teagarden claims that the words we usually associate with this song were written by Teagarden and his fellow trombonist Glenn Miller when they were asked to arrange the song for an early Ben Pollack recording. Neither name appears on the song credits.
The Basin Street of the title refers to the main street of Storyville, the notorious red-light district of the early 20th-century New Orleans, just north of the French Quarter. It became a red light district in 1897.
In this interesting thread on FECC, started by Jimmy Cool on Wed Sep 08, 2010 1:32 pm:
A question about "Crawfish"
FECC member davepenny lead us to a videoclip of Basin Street Blues as sung by Herb Jeffries. Here's a first fragment of that clip:
This "Basin Street Blues" sequence was filmed originally in 1950 for Snader Telescriptions (short musical films employed to fill up dead air time between scheduled TV programs).
What you immediately will notice is the similarity between this beginning up till 0:53 and the beginning of Crawfish in King Creole three years later:
King Creole, located in New Orleans, just like the original Basin Street was.
While doing my online research on Money Honey, I found out that Money Honey was written by Jesse Stone aka Charles Calhoun aka Chuck Calhoun aka The Stone Crushers. Yes, he knew his way around with pseudonyms.
And while searching on his different pseudonyms I found this neat little single on YouTube:Jesse Albert Stone (November 16, 1901 – April 1, 1999) was a pianist, bandleader and songwriter whose influence spanned a wide range of genres. He also used the pseudonyms Charles Calhoun and Chuck Calhoun.
Stone's career predates both rock 'n' roll and R&B, stretching back to the vaudeville and early jazz eras. By 1926 he had formed a group, the Blue Serenaders, and cut his first record, "Starvation Blues", for Okeh Records in 1927. For the next few years he worked as a pianist and arranger in Kansas City, recording with Julia Lee among others, and then in the 1930s organised a larger orchestra.
Duke Ellington got Stone's orchestra booked at the Cotton Club in 1936. Over the next few years Stone worked as a bandleader at the Apollo Theatre, and more widely in Harlem as a songwriter and arranger, with Chick Webb's band (which included Louis Jordan), Jimmie Lunceford, and many others. He made some recordings under his own name in the 1930s and 1940s.
In 1941, Stone became musical director for the all-female band, The International Sweethearts of Rhythm. He left after two years.
His recordings haven't been easy to find, but the German label Bear Family has compiled 30 of them on Jesse Stone Alias Charles ''Chuck'' Calhoun, covers 11 years, beginning in 1947 when Stone was recording swing tunes for RCA Victor under his own name.
The original records were credited variously to Jesse Stone, the Stone Crushers, and Chuck Calhoun & the Atlantic All Stars, and were released on several different labels.
The Stone Crushers - Crawfish, as written by Ben Weisman and Fred Wise
To my surprise - when I read a bit further - it was already brought up by Bob Holland in the A question about "Crawfish" thread, which I already mentioned earlier.
On the label it says "From The Hal Wallis Production 'King Creole', a Paramount Picture."
It's worthwhile to read the original thread again.
So Basin Street Blues lead us via the red light districts of New Orleans to Crawfish, lead us to The Stone Crushers, lead us to Jesse Stone. And Jesse Stone was the writer of Money Honey, among others. Money Honey. The actual topic of this thread.
Money Honey is a song written by Jesse Stone, which was released in September 1953 by Clyde McPhatter backed for the first time by the newly formed Drifters. McPhatter's voice, but not his name, had become well known as the lead singer for Billy Ward and the Dominoes. The song was an immediate hit and remained on the rhythm and blues charts for 23 weeks, peaking at #1. Rolling Stone ranked it #252 on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. The recording was reported to have sold in excess of two million by 1968.
The song was recorded on August 9, 1953, at Atlantic Studios and featured Clyde McPhatter (lead), Bill Pinkney (baritone), Andrew "Bubba" Thrasher (second tenor), Gerhart "Gay" Thrasher (top tenor), and Willie Ferbie (bass). Walter Adams was the guitarist for the record.
The recording features Mickey Baker on guitar  and Sam "the Man" Taylor on tenor sax. The arrangement starts with a bagpipe-like drone from the Drifters setting up a shuffle rhythm. McPhatter's voice is clear and bright and in the midst of the sax solo he gives off a monumental scream.
An early demonstration record of the original release:
The song tells the story of a man who has run out of money, and hopes his woman will help him out:
I was clean as a screen and so hard pressed
I called the woman that I love best
In the chorus, he threatens to leave her if she doesn't help him out:
Money Honey, if you want to get along with me
She is literally not buying, she has another man, one who already has money. The complete lyrics:
Another early version, from December 14, 1953 this time. Sung ben a woman, which gives us a different perspective. It's Ella Mae Morse:MONEY HONEY
Well, the landlord rang my front door bell
I let it ring for a long, long spell
Went to the window, peeped through the blind
Asked him to tell me what was on his mind
And he said, money honey, money honey, money honey
If you wanna get along with me
I was clean and screened and so hard pressed
I called the woman that I loved the best
Finally found my baby 'bout a quarter to three
She said, I'd like to know what you want with me
And I said, money honey, money honey, money honey
If you wanna get along with me
Well, she screamed and said
What's wrong with you, from this day forth
Our romance is through
I said, tell me baby, face to face
How could another man take my place ?
She said, money honey, money honey, money honey
If you wanna get along with me
Well, I've learned my lesson and now I know
The sun may shine, and the winds may blow
Women may come and women may go
But before I tell 'em that I love 'em so
I want money honey, money honey, money honey
If you wanna get along with me
Elvis performed the song several times in 1954 (probably) and 1955 (for sure). Here is his earliest known version from The Louisiana Hayride on March 5, 1955.
Elvis' version was recorded during his very first recording session for RCA on January 10, 1956. 2 days after is 21st birthday. He already recorded I Got A Woman and Heartbreak Hotel that session, so he really seemed in the mood. However, it also seems that even after 10 takes he couldn't get it completely right, for RCA used a splice of takes 5 and 6 as the Master we all know so well. RCA technicians also attempted to recreate the Sun sound somewhat.
RCA Studios - Nashville, Tennessee
Producer : Steve Sholes
Engineer : Bob Farris
Guitar: Elvis Presley
Guitar: Scotty Moore
Guitar: Chet Atkins
Bass: Bill Black
Drums: D.J. Fontana
Piano: Floyd Cramer
On the Elvis Presley FTD we can hear an unmentioned take (NA) and take 10 (in)complete. "(In)Complete" in this context means that the take is incomplete because the rest was erased by a recording engineer, when the tape was reused for sessions with another artist.
Release date Money Honey / One Sided Love Affair was August 31, 1956:
While the record of Clyde McPhatter and the Drifter reached number one on Billboard’s rhythm & blues chart in 1953 for an amazing 11 weeks, Elvis' single never reached the charts.
On March 24, 1956 Carl Perkins had been badly hurt in an automobile accident on the way to New York. That night on 'Stage Show', Elvis sang 'Heartbreak Hotel' and out of respect for his friend Carl, Elvis refused to sing Perkins' 'Blue Suede Shoes' as previously planned and instead sang 'Money Honey'.
A song close to his heart. He would sing it more often live as well that year. We all remember his version in Vegas on May 6, 1956:
And in Little Rock ten days later, on May 16, 1956:
Some versions by other artists:
Eddie Cochran live in a 1959, released in 1999 on the album The Town Hall Party Show:
Clyde McPhatter rerecorded the song for the Mercury label catalog, and it appeared on the "Lover Please" album in 1962 and on his 1963 Mercury "Greatest Hits" release. Unfortunately I can't find this version to add to this topic.
Money Honey by Betty O'Brien on Liberty Records in 1962:
Little Richard covered the song for his 1964 Vee-Jay Records album, Little Richard Is Back (And There's a Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On!), guitarist Davy Graham recorded this tune on his 1966 album Midnight Man and The Jackson 5 covered this song under the Motown label recorded during 1971 - 1975. It is one of 19 'Rare & Unreleased' tracks on the fourth CD of the Michael/Jackson 5 box-set, Soulsation! issued in June 1995 in the US and July 1995 in the UK - a demo version is known to exist.
The song was also covered by Ry Cooder on his 1972 album, Into the Purple Valley:
The Sensational Alex Harvey Band covered this song on their 1974 album The Impossible Dream, The Coasters also released a version of the song, and Aaron Neville recorded Money Honey for his January 2013 album "My True Story":
You might say: Money Honey is a true classic.
For a short but very interesting biography about its writer Jesse Stone, please read: http://www.soul-patrol.com/soul/jessiestone.htm The man sure Shaked, Rattled and Rolled in his own jazzy way