Bill Haley

See You Later, Alligator

Song Review by

"See You Later Alligator" was Bill Haley's last big hit, reaching #6 in early 1956. Like several of Haley's singles, it was a cover of an R&B song, a twist this time around being that it was an R&B song by a White artist, not a Black one. The more obscure original version of the song was written and sung by New Orleans teenager Bobby Charles. In its original guise as a 1955 Chess single, "See You Later Alligator," Charles's ethnicity to the contrary, was pretty convincing New Orleans R&B with sax and boogie piano, built around the clever hook of a then-hip and crazy expression. It got a little repetitious melodically, but a honking sax solo compensated. Bill Haley is not given much respect by many rock historians, and much conventional wisdom would have it that any cover of his of an R&B tune would be inferior to the original. Yet although Haley's "See You Later Alligator" was undeniably slicker than Charles's, there were good reasons why it was far more of a commercial success. Haley gave it his characteristic slapping rockabilly-swing backbeat, which moved the tune along a lot more forcefully. Haley also added a big hook in having a jazzy sax play riffs in response to his vocal lines. Also, where in Charles's original the chorus was almost identical to the verse, Haley used backup vocals by the Comets to make it far more of a memorable anthemic chant. There was also the instrumental break, which had a sizzling solo in which electric guitars butted heads with a wailing sax. The Cometss also made the end of the final chorus far more dramatic, drawing it out with a "that's all, so long, goodbye" waveoff, the final "goodbye" trailing off in a downward swoop. The aspect of the record that dates it the most is the cutesy spoken introduction, in which a high girlish voice speaks the song's title. While Haley's "See You Later Alligator" is undeniably more of a consciously crafted rock'n'roll party tune than Charles's original, it's also more boisterous and ultimately more exciting.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
No Image 1957 London
No Image 1959 Brunswick
Mister Rock 'N' Roll 1973 Ember 2:45
No Image 1973 GNP / Crescendo
No Image 1976
Various Artists
MCA 3:03
Kings of Rock'n'Roll [Bellaphon] 1978
Various Artists
Universal Distribution 2:07
No Image 197? Janus 2:26
No Image 1984 Charly Records
From the Original Master Tapes 1985 MCA 2:43
No Image 1986
Various Artists
Front Page Records
Billboard Top Rock & Roll Hits: 1956 1989
Various Artists
Rhino 2:47
No Image 1989
Various Artists
Cra-a-zy Hits 1990
Various Artists
Universal Special Products / MCA 2:44
Hit Parade Top Rock 'n' roll Hits: 50's and 60's, Vol. 2 1991
Various Artists
Orfeon 2:44
Eis Am Stiel, Vol. 4 1991
Original Soundtrack
Fun Rock! Kooky, Crazy, Classic Rock for Kids 1992
Various Artists
Kid Rhino / Rhino 2:47
Legends 1993 Wisepack 2:46
The Rock 'N' Roll Era: 1956 1993
Various Artists
JCI Associated Labels 2:47
Hits from 1956 1994
Various Artists
Hollywood / IMG 2:49
Shake Rattle & Roll [Drive] 1994 Drive Archive 2:44
Vintage Collectibles, Vol. 12: 1956-1964 1995
Various Artists
Universal Special Products 2:45
Greatest Hits [Prime Cuts] 1995 St. Clair / Prime Cuts 2:08
Later Alligator 1995 Chicago Records Dist. 2:20
Best of Bill Haley [Castle] 1995 Castle Music Ltd. 2:45
World of Rock N Roll 1996
Various Artists
ZYX Music 2:44
Only Dance 1955-1959 1997
Various Artists
Rhino / JCI Associated Labels 2:44
Rock 'N' Roll Nonstop Party Mix 1997
Various Artists
ZYX Music 1:11
Rockfile, Vol. 1 1997
Various Artists
Rockfile 2:44
Greatest Rock & Roll Party, Vol. 3 1997
Various Artists
Great Hits 2:45
Bill Haley & the Comets: Members Edition 1997 Members Edition 2:45
Roots of Rock & Roll [Deuce] 1997 Deuce 2:08
3 for 3: Bill Haley, Jerry Lee Lewis & Carl Perkins 1997 3 for 3 2:10
Golden Rock & Roll Hits of the 50's, Vol. 2 1997
Various Artists
Galaxy Music 2:43
Chart Toppers: Rock Hits of the 50s 1998
Various Artists
Priority Records 2:46
Discovery Channel: Animal Planet -- Sing with the Animals 1998
Various Artists
Rhino 2:46
Still Rockin' Around the Clock: Encore Collection 1998 BMG Special Products 2:15
Rock Around the Clock [Mastertone] 1998 Master Dance Tones 2:45
The Best of 50's Rock 1998
Various Artists
Priority Records 2:48
Bill Haley & The Comets [Classic World] 1999 Classic World Productions, Inc. 2:47
Loud, Fast & Out of Control: The Wild Sounds of the '50s [Box] 1999
Various Artists
Rhino 2:46
The Warner Brothers Years & More 1999 Bear Family Records 2:51
The Rock 'N' Roll Era: Still Rockin' 1999
Various Artists
Time / Life Music
Cocodrilo Club 2000
Various Artists
Tempo 2:42
Mr. Rock 'n' Roll/Friends from the Beginning 2000 Ember 2:45
Very Best of Bill Haley [Mastersound] 2000 MRA / Mastersound 2:09
Forever Gold 2001 St. Clair 2:11
Forever Gold: Roots of Rock 'N' Roll 2001
Various Artists
St. Clair 2:09
Star Power: Bill Haley and the Comets 2001 Direct Source 2:42
Rock 'N' Roll Legend 2001 Prism Platinum 2:13
Essential Rockabilly Masters 2001
Various Artists
Big Eye Music 2:45
That's Rock and Roll 2001
Various Artists
Golden Stars 2:43
Ghost Party 2001
Various Artists
Laserlight 2:10
Golden Treasure: Rock 'n' Roll Superstars 2002
Various Artists
Park South Records / Orpheus Records 2:42
Hits of the '50s [Direct Source] 2003
Various Artists
Direct Source 2:43
Rock 'N' Roll Legends [Direct Source] 2003
Various Artists
Direct Source 2:42
Jukebox Hits, Vol. 2 2003
Various Artists
United Multi License 2:45
Classic American Voices 2003 Direct Source 2:07
Rock 'N' Roll Superstars [Blumountain] 2003
Various Artists
Blumountain Records 2:42
Fabulous 50s, Vol. 3 2003
Various Artists
Madacy 2:09
Rockin' 50's [Direct Source] 2003
Various Artists
Direct Source 2:43
The Collection [Madacy] 2004 Madacy 2:09
Rock & Roll: 50th Anniversary Collection 2004
Various Artists
Madacy 2:46
Happy Days of Rock 'n' Roll 50s [Bonus DVD] 2004
Various Artists
Madacy 2:09
The Best of Bill Haley & the Comets[Liquid 8] 2004 Liquid 8 2:44
Happy Days of Rock 'n' Roll 50s - Disc 2 2004
Various Artists
Madacy 2:09
Bill Haley and His Comets [DVD] 2005 St. Clair Vision
Bill Rocks 2006 Bear Family Records 2:46
Capital Gold 50's Legends 2006
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 2:44
Rock 'N' Roll Legends 2008 MCA 2:45
The Singles Collection 1948-1960 2017 Acrobat Music 2:45
21 Super Golden Oldies
Various Artists
No Image
Various Artists
ZYX Music 2:47
Horst Fascher Präsentiert: 50 Jahre Beatles In Hamburg
Various Artists
Original Oldies of the Fifties, Vol. 12
Various Artists
Just for Records