Dave Bartholomew - My Ding-a-Ling

First performance: 28/04/1973


Bruce covered the song once:
1973-04-28 Cole Field House, College Park, MD

One show, triple bill, with Chuck Berry headlining, Jerry Lee Lewis second billed and Bruce and the boys opening. A show now steeped in legend. Berry's contract stipulated that it was the promoter's responsibility to supply him with a backing band for this concert. Apparently Bruce learned about a week before the show that the promoter was seeking a group to support Berry and immediately volunteered his band's services for free, which the promoter gladly accepted. There was no rehearsal or soundcheck with Berry, so Bruce and the boys improvised as best they could. The show was Bruce's first known appearance in Maryland. Bruce and the boys opened their part of the show with a 50-minute set, followed by a 60-minute set by Jerry Lee Lewis and his band. Chuck Berry (with Springsteen's entire band backing him, including Bruce and Southside Johnny) closed the evening's festivities with a 70-minute performance. Springsteen recounts some hilarious details in the 1987 Chuck Berry documentary Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll, but does not mention Southside Johnny’s appearance. Fearing that Berry might not want a harp player Bruce positioned Southside in the shadows at the extreme end of the stage. However Berry enjoyed the harp playing and near the end of the show he actually acknowledged Southside to the crowd saying "that white boy can blow, can’t he!" The listed setlist represents most, if not all, of the performances from both Springsteen's opening slot and from the Chuck Berry performance. This almost sold out gig in the 15,000 seat Cole Field House was not without some controversy. Such was the demand to see the show that the school newspaper reported that twenty people were arrested when police spotted individuals sneaking into the concert via an open female lavatory window at the back of the building. Apparently 200-300 people made it in before the police caught wind of what was going on.


"My Ding-a-Ling" is a song first recorded by Dave Bartholomew in 1952 but it was Chuck Berry who made the song famous in 1972 and became his only number-one Billboard Hot 100 single in the United States. Later that year, in a longer unedited form, it was included on the album The London Chuck Berry Sessions. When Bartholomew moved to Imperial Records, he re-recorded the song under the new title, "Little Girl Sing Ting-a-Ling". Berry recorded a version called "My Tambourine" in 1968. In the live Berry version, Berry makes the chorus a call-and-response, in which the women in the audience sing “my” and the men respond by shouting "ding-a-ling!" Many radio stations refused to play it. British morality campaigner Mary Whitehouse tried unsuccessfully to get the song banned. In Icons of Rock, Scott Schinder calls the song "a sophomoric, double-entendre-laden ode to masturbation". The song is based on the melody of the 19th century folk song "Little Brown Jug". 

Other cover versions

Bruce on the artist


When I was a little biddy boy
My grandmother bought me a cute little toy
Silver bells hangin' on a string
She told me it was my ding-a-ling-a-ling!
Oh, my ding-a-ling, my ding-a-ling
I want you to play with my ding-a-ling!
My ding-a-ling, my ding-a-ling
I want you to play with my ding-a-ling!
Then momma took me to Sunday school
They tried to teach me the golden rule
Ev'rytime the choir would sing
I'd take out my ding-a-ling-a-ling!
Oh, my ding-a-ling...
And then momma took me to Grammar school
But I stopped off in the vestibule
Ev'ry time that bell would ring
Catch me playin' with my ding-a-ling-a-ling!
Oh, my ding-a-ling...
Once I was climbin' the garden wall
I slipped and had a terrible fall
I fell so hard I heard bells ring
But held on to my ding-a-ling-a-ling!
Oh, my ding-a-ling...
I remember the girl next door
We used to play house on the kitchen floor
She'd be the queen, I'd be the king
And I let her play with my ding-a-ling-a-ling!
Oh, my ding-a-ling...
Once I was swimmin' 'cross Turtle Creek
Man, them snappers all around my feet
Sure was hard swimmin' 'cross that thing
With both hands holdin' my ding-a-ling-a-ling!
Oh, my ding-a-ling...
The girl downstairs, she's a big and bold
Grandma warned me, she's too old
She used to take me swingin' in a schoolyard swing
Swing down and take my ding-a-ling-a-ling!
Oh, my ding-a-ling...
This here song it ain't so sad
The cutest little song you ever had
Those of you who will not sing
You must be playin' with your own ding-a-ling!
Oh, your ding-a-ling, oh, your ding-a-ling
We saw you playin' with your ding-a-ling!
Well, my ding-a-ling, everybody sing
I want to play with my ding-a-ling!
My ding-a-ling, my ding-a-ling
I want to play with my ding-a-ling!