Monday, June 23, 2014

Songs about Hadacol from 1949-1953

Hadacol is one of the most notorious snake-oil remedies of all time. When its theme song asked "What put the pep into grandma?" you knew the answer. Formulated with vitamins and 12% alcohol, the brown, foul-tasting liquid sold by the truckload throughout the South in the 1940s and early '50s. 

Invented by Louisiana State Senator Dudley LeBlanc, Hadacol made its mark on the music world via the Hadacol Medicine Show, a touring package show that featured, at one time or another, major artists such as Roy Acuff and Hank Williams.

LeBlanc's over-the-top advertising and creative bookkeeping finally brought down his Hadacol empire, which at its peak raked in millions of dollars a year. Ads claimed that Hadacol "made you strong, made you tall" and treated scores of ailments, but the Federal Trade Commission and the American Medical Association disagreed. They said in 1951 that Hadacol was deceptive junk, and that was the end of that. 

For several years, though, Hadacol enjoyed broad popularity, and many artists from the pop, country, and R&B fields recorded songs about Hadacol. Today's Music Weird compiles songs from the Hadacol era that mention Hadacol, with video links where available. I haven't included any songs or recordings from later than the '50s. 

If you know of any others, please mention them in the comments!

Basin Street Six – "Everybody Loves That Hadacol" (Mercury 6305 & 6307, 1951)

Released in two versions: Cajun and English. 

Tiny Hill and Orchestra – "Everybody Loves that Hadacol" (Mercury 5543, 1950)

Competing recording of the same song. No video. 

Audrey Williams – "What Put the Pep in Grandma" (Decca 46233, 1950)

"Hadacol" is the answer. Recorded by Mrs. Hank Williams, this song is extremely annoying.

Bill Nettles – "Hadacol Boogie" (Mercury 6190, 1949)

Jimmy C. Newman later recorded this song for the Cajun Country label. 

Bill Nettles – "Hadacol Bounce" (Mercury 6275, 1950)


The Treniers – "Hadacol (That's All)" (OKeh 6876, 1952)

Roy Bird (AKA Professor Longhair) & His Blue Jumpers – "Hadacol Bounce" (Mercury 8184, 1950)

 Slim Willet & The Brush Cutters – "Hadacol Corners" (4 Star 1614, 1952) 

The B-side of his hit "Don't Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes."

Jesse Rogers and His 49'ers – "Hadacol Boogie" (RCA Victor 32-0001-A, 1949)

Another version of the Bill Nettles song.

 Little Willie Littlefield – "Drinkin' Hadacol" (Modern 709, 1949)

Jerry Lee Lewis later recorded this.

Tillman Franks and His Rainbow Boys – "Hot Rod Shotgun Boogie No. 2" (Gotham 7-TF-1, 1951)

This combination of Arkie Shibley's "Hot Rod Race" and Tennessee Ernie Ford's "Shotgun Boogie" was sung by Faron Young in his early days. Young puts Hadacol in his car's gas tank to give it a little extra kick.

Al Terry & His  Gold Star Band – "H-A-D-A-C-O-L" (Feature 1017, 1951/52) 


Happy & The Doctor & the Hadacol Boys – "La Valse De Hadacol" (Feature 1020, 1951/52)
By Cajun musician/composer Harry Choates.

Joe Lutcher – "Give Me My Hadacol" (Peacock 1562, 1950)

Tony Almerico All Stars and Dixieland Band – "Hadacol Boogie" (Dot 15080, 1953) 

No video or image.

Sharkey Bonano with The Pinky Vidacovich Band – "Hadacol Ramble"

On Joe Mares' Acetates, a collection of acetates from 1949-53. 

Ellis Stroud – "My Hadacol Gal"

Included on the Collector Records compilation Boppin' Acetates Coast to Coast. Not sure of the year on this one.

Wynonie Harris with Todd Rhodes Orch. – "Lovin' Machine" (King 4485, 1951)

The lovin' machine dispenses a bottle of Hadacol after it wears you out.

Teresa Brewer – "Lovin' Machine" (Coral, 1952) 

A cover of the Harris song.

Hank Penny (Plain Ol' Country Boy) – "Hadacillin Boogie" (RCA Victor 20-4862, 1952)


  1. Great compilation! Just for the record, the Basin Street Six included legendary New Orleans clarinetist Pete Fountain, who just passed away last week.

  2. Great compilation! Just for the record, the Basin Street Six included legendary New Orleans clarinetist Pete Fountain, who just passed away last week.

  3. There's a budget-line Christmas CD by the Listener's Choice label, "Christmas with Bing." Amazon page Track 1 is a breezy, silly rendition of "Rudolph," with then-current references to things like the clothing line Hart Schaffner Marx, and the patent medicine Hadacol. Plus, it's performed with Judy Garland!

  4. Some of those are mighty catchy songs. Everything from Boogie Woogie to Cajun to Hokie Tonk to old pure back Country. They certainly covered every type of music possible which means they were getting their message into every radio no matter where it was. I appreciate your work on this product as I had actually forgotten it until I heard the single. That stuff taste so bad it'd scald a dog.

    1. Thanks for your comment. I didn't realize until you posted this that so many of the video links were dead, so I fixed them all.