Mr. Bojangles (3:35)

Cover of Greatest Hits Live

From Greatest Hits Live and 38 other releases

Mr. Bojangles” is a popular song written and initially recorded by Jerry Jeff Walker in 1968 and covered since by many other artists. The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band took the song to #9 on the Billboard pop chart in 1971.

The song was inspired by an encounter with a street performer in the New Orleans first precinct jail. Although this man could tap dance, the inspiration for the song was not the famous stage and movie dancer Bill “Bojangles” Robinson nor the New Orleans blues musician Babe Stovall.

According to Walker, a murder on the July 4th weekend of 1965 precipitated the arrest of all the street people in the area. In the crowded cell, a disheveled old homeless man began to talk to Walker who had been arrested earlier for drunkenness. The man told various stories of his life but the tone darkened after ‘Mr Bojangles’ recalled his dog who’d been run over. Someone then asked for something to lighten the mood and the man obliged with a tap dance.

Walker mentions that all the men in the cell had nicknames to prevent easy identification by the police. The dancer’s nickname was ‘Mr Bojangles’. In his autobiography ‘Gypsy Songman’,[1] Walker makes it clear the man he met was white. Further, in an interview with BBC Radio 4 in August 2008 he pointed out that at the time the jail cells in New Orleans were segregated along color lines


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  • DrMichaelGalvin

    Nice version by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band but I prefer the original by Jerry Jeff Walker.

    23 Oct 2013 Reply
  • ElCid550

    I sing this one during Karaoke and have a blast with it. This was a fantastic album especially Ripplin' Waters...

    22 Nov 2012 Reply

    18 Nov 2012 Reply
  • Braveheart53


    3 Sep 2012 Reply
  • oldiesfanjohn

    Kinda home-spun still..Ye olde prologue Uncle Charlie And His Dog Teddy still brings it home 42+ yrs later!

    3 Jul 2012 Reply
  • rockandrolljoe

    I drinks a bit.

    4 May 2012 Reply
  • davidmills71

    He danced a lick... Yeah he danced.....

    7 Oct 2011 Reply
  • JukeBoxHero48

    Indeed...! Love this wonderful classic :-)

    6 Sep 2011 Reply
  • eonsago

    ABM 1708 you missed one I think. I was also done by Jim Croce. Not bad by the way

    28 Mar 2011 Reply
  • kdeshong

    Favorite childhood song... Still love it today...

    24 Mar 2011 Reply
  • fireandrain61

    Mr. Bojangles~Favorite since childhood

    8 Feb 2011 Reply
  • daverichards99

    "good clean american music" - yeah I like that. I'd say: Agreeably cheesy. But I kinda like it.

    15 Jan 2011 Reply
  • Rapture5212011

    ✔Yes, very cl❤ssic.. for all those from the ★'baby boomer' generation★ this ♪musical♪ melody brings back many fond memories of days gone by. Always loved most all the work of ❤"The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band"❤

    8 Dec 2010 Reply
  • steamboat58

    Nice version, thanks Tanya

    5 Aug 2010 Reply
  • kodiacken

    the first time I heard this was at Mole Lake, MN. the group is good clean american music. Lots of fun, even the sad stuff. Miss the good songs, Both words and music

    9 Jul 2010 Reply
  • silversurfer250

    Walker wrote another verse to the song, but didn't perform it because he couldn't fit it all in. This verse was about the 3 wives the man in jail told him about.

    22 Apr 2010 Reply
  • Retro_Saiyan

    This song always fills me with emotion.

    13 Mar 2010 Reply
  • cradloff30

    What a beautiful song for such a bittersweet story.........

    24 Feb 2010 Reply

    cool tune

    20 Feb 2010 Reply
  • tarsha66

    ill still go with Sammy Davis naaa naaaaa !

    15 Jan 2010 Reply
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