The song was written by Little Richard, Edwin Bocage (Eddie Bo), Albert Collins and James Smith. It was first recorded by Eddie Bo in 1956 under the title ‘I’m Wise’, but was renamed when Little Richard taped his version later that year.
It featured on his first album, Here’s Little Richard, and became the b-side of his second US single ‘Long Tall Sally’. In the US it topped the R&B charts and reached the top 10 in the pop charts.
In the United Kingdom ‘Long Tall Sally’ was backed with ‘Tutti Frutti’, and peaked at number three on the charts. However, Lennon managed to acquire an imported copy featuring ‘Slippin’ And Slidin”.
The first time I heard this Little RIchard track, a friend of mine imported it from Holland. It came out in Europe first. Slippin’ And Slidin’ was the b-side of Long Tall Sally, which is the first Little Richard song I ever heard and was also recorded by Buddy Holly, so that covers a little bit of both. It was a song I knew. It was easier to do songs that I knew than trying to learn something from scratch, even if I was interested in the songs.
Both Little Richard’s and Buddy Holly’s versions were included on the portable jukebox Lennon took with him on The Beatles’ tours in 1965. The recordings were included on the 2004 compilation John Lennon’s Jukebox.
Lennon’s version of ‘Slippin’ And Slidin” was to have been the b-side of ‘Ain’t That A Shame’, the second scheduled single from Rock ‘N’ Roll, but it was cancelled everywhere except Mexico shortly before the release date. However, copies with the catalogue number PRO-8148 were sent out to radio stations.
In March 1975 Lennon filmed promotional clips for ‘Slippin’ And Slidin” and ‘Stand By Me’, for the BBC television show The Old Grey Whistle Test. They were shot at New York’s Record Plant East, and featured Lennon’s band miming to the album versions while Lennon sang a new vocal over the top.
Lennon also performed ‘Slippin’ And Slidin”, along with ‘Stand By Me’ and ‘Imagine’, on 18 April 1975 for the Salute To Lew Grade television show. That was his last scheduled public performance.
An alternative version of ‘Slippin’ And Slidin” from the Rock ‘N’ Roll sessions was included on the 1998 box set John Lennon Anthology. This was take five, and showed how the song sounded without the brass overdubs.