Monday, July 13, 2009

Johnny & The Hurricanes - Red River Rock - Andy Young

Once and for all, where is the Red River Valley?

And why I'm always singing it during our Silver Strings Concerts?

If there's one song in the 60's that has been sung by nearly every English speaking individual in Singapore, it's Red River Valley. It is a cowboy song [Country/Western] and it is also a river near Winnipeg, Manitoba, where I lived and studied for three years. Beautiful in Summer but hot, and fabulous in Winter but piercing cold at -40 degrees Centigrade.

The Red River Valley is a region in central North America that is drained by the Red River of the North. The geography of North Dakota, Minnesota, and Manitoba reveals the fertile lands around the river and the population centers of Fargo, Moorhead, Grand Forks, and Winnipeg.
One point to remember; part of the river is in the North in Canada and the other part in the South in the US of A.

Red River Valley is well-known among musicians as a folk song, a cowboy music standard (country/western) but apparently it has controversial origins. This song has gone by different names like, Cowboy Love Song, Bright Sherman Valley, Bright Laurel Valley, In the Bright Mohawk Valley, and Bright Little Valley and actually depending on where it has been sung.
Camp Amisk, Winnipeg, near La Salle River, last tributary of the Red River, with David Garvin and pet dog, who's cleverer than his master (1985).

As the website commented, it could not have originated from Texas because of the line, "Do not hasten to bid me adieu..." Also Canadian folklorist researcher Edith Fowke explained that the song originated among British troops who came to Manitoba, the Red River Valley of the North.

It has also been recognised as a soldier's sweetheart song, popular in Cold War America and on Armed Forces Radio.  The song could have expressed the sorrow of a local woman (a native Canadian Indian or Metis) as her soldier lover prepares to return to the east.

                 Red River Valley: 2nd song after Diana. Andy n Silver Strings.

Many singers have recorded this song and the trail includes Marty Robbins, Jo Stafford, Gene Autry and Eddie Arnold. Johnny and The Hurricanes recorded a rock and roll adaptation of the song, Red River Rock, in 1959. It became a Top Ten hit on both sides of the Atlantic and was at number five in the U.S. and number three in the UK.

This instrumental version has also been recorded by many guitar groups. During the 60's in Singapore, it is also played frequently on stage and during tea-dances. Most uniform like the Scouts, Boys Brigade and Sea Cadets and campfire groups know this sing-a-long and the Chinese version is, Hong Her Ker - Red River Song. Popular in Stage One music books for pianos and electronic organs; it is a simple yet melodious tune. It will be sung at the gig at Orchid Country, Singapore.

Johnny and the Hurricanes Red River Rock.

From this valley they say you are going,
I will miss your bright eyes and sweet smile.
For they say you are taking the sunshine,
That has brightened our pathway awhile.

Please come back to the Red River Valley,
Please come back to a heart that is true,
I'll be there in the Red River Valley,
I'll be waiting just waiting for you.

Come sit by my side if you love me.
Do not hasten to bid me adieu.
Just remember the Red River Valley,
And the one that has loved you so true.
The Red River Valley: Winnipeg Manitoba, Canada.


1. Wikipedia - Red River Valley/Geography/Song
3. Image:

Original article: Andy Lim Collection


Teoh said...

Slim Whitman recorded this song in the LP titled "Red River Valley". I love this song so much that I bought the LP 3 times.

Thanks for the information about this great song.

chakap chakap said...

Winnipeg was inundated during the 1950 Red River Flood and had to be partially evacuated. In that year, the Red River reached its highest level since 1861 and flooded most of the Red River Valley.

The damage caused by the flood led the PM to advocate for the construction of the Red River Floodway; it was completed in 1968 after six years of excavation. Permanent dikes were erected in eight towns south of Winnipeg, and clay dikes and diversion dams were built in the Winnipeg area.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

This blog has been rejuvenated because of additional information. Also the song Red River Valley has been made popular in Singapore in the 2000's. I have been singing a rock interpretation, one which has never been done before (correct me). Only the country n western one and the rock instrumental have been recorded by many pop artistes.

I have since included the song which is on You Tube; it is the song after 'Diana' during our concert at the Orchid Country Club Singapore in 2009.

Hope you all enjoy it. In appreciation of the years I spent in Winnipeg, Manitoba, near the Red River Valley.

anon said...

Kenangan manis pastinya untuk Uncle Andy. Wah, Uncle mendiami lama di AS.


ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Terima kaseh Cek Ramli. Sudi mampir kapan saja.

chakap chakap2 said...

Above post from Che Ramli and reply were from 15th July 2009.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Picture with friend shows David Garvin, who helped me with lodging, community connections, university logistics and a friend all day. After a few months we lost touch and he disappeared for good. And his intelligent dog with him.

That could be life for a good Canadian since they can roam the country far and wide. The Red River Rugged Valley it is.

Hey, David if you ever read this get in touch...

Phyllis Brinklow (U Tube) said...

This song was very popular when I lived in Worms, Germany 1959-1961 as a U.S. army brat. Brings back a lot of memories.

Rodney Paquin (U TUBE) said...

Unfortunaltely, they won't find this group. Johnny Paris (sax/leader of the Hurricanes) passed away in 1996.

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ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thanks to all TWITTER FOLLOWERS for appreciating the posting. 42 readers. :-)


Hi Andy.
Personal favourite, instrumental version of 'Red River Rock' is by The Ventures. First heard it when I was around 12 years old and it made me dream of being a drummer performing on stage to a live appreciative audience.

My dream was first realized when I was 16, when my friends and I formed a band for the school talentime. We came in 2nd, playing the song by The Associations, Never My Love.



Good instrumental. My previous band 'The New Notes' used to play the song. One of the best from that era.


Thanks Andy. One of the most popular Oriental songs of the sixties.


Hi Andy. Just in case you or your readers are impressed by our 2nd placing, what I did not tell you was that there were only two participants in the contest ! hahaha