In the very early 1950’s, Arlie Carter and William Warren got together to compose a song called ‘The Wild Side Of Life’. Based on a true experience of Warren, the song was first recorded by Jimmy Heap and his Melody Masters in 1951. Alas, a hit was not forthcoming, but that was soon to change after Hank Thompson recorded his version.
Hank Thompson – The Wild Side Of Life
Hank Thompson entered the studio on the 11th of December 1951 to record his version of the song, with his backing band ‘His Brazos Valley Boys’. It wasn’t until March of 1952 that it was released. Hits had been a long time coming for Thompson, in fact, the last hit he had recorded had been as far back as 1949 – but the release of The Wild Side Of Life would soon buck the trend.
Before long, the song had raced to the very top of the Billboard Country Charts, where it stayed for an impressive 15 weeks! As strange as it may seem, the song was concurrently in the top 10 of the Country chart via a version by Burl Ives.
Later on that same year, using the same tune as The Wild Side Of Life, Kitty Wells released an ‘answer’ song called ‘It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels’, it too reached the number one spot in the Billboard Country Charts.
Kitty Wells – It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels
The Wild Side Of Life soon became a staple song among many performers, and not just on the country scene. As with many ‘country’ songs, re-working them in to a ‘rock’ song is not the hardest thing to do. One successful version of such a re-working was by Tommy Quickly.
Tommy Quickly & The Remo Four – The Wild Side Of Life
Tommy Quickly & The Remo Four, who were managed by Beatles manager Brian Epstein, only managed to enter the UK charts on one occasion and it was with their version of The Wild Side Of Life. Released in the Autumn of 1964 it managed to reach a peak of number 33 in the UK charts.
Twelve years later the song The Wild Side Of Life came back with a vengeance. An instrumental saxophone version was released as B-Side by Maury Finney in 1976, the same year as Freddy Fender took his version to number 13 in the Billboard Country charts. Over in the UK the same year came the following version.
Status Quo – The Wild Side Of Life
British, three-chord, rockstars, Status Quo released their version of The Wild Side Of Life in the summer of 1976 in the UK. By the end of the year it had climbed to a peak of number 9 and spent a total of 12 weeks in the UK top 40.