Classic Rock Wiki

"Nut Rocker" is an instrumental rock single recorded by American instrumental ensemble B. Bumble and the Stingers that reached number 23 in the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 in March 1962 and went to number 1 in the UK Singles Chart in May 1962.[3] It was a version of Tchaikovsky's "March of the Wooden Soldiers", from his ballet The Nutcracker.[1]



  • 1 Original recording
  • 2 Reception
  • 3 Other recordings
  • 4 Cultural references
  • 5 References
  • 6 External links

Original recording[edit][]

The recording was made by the house band of session musicians at Rendezvous Records in Los Angeles, including drummer Earl Palmer and guitarist René Hall, who had already had hits in the US charts with rocked-up versions of "In The Mood" (1959, credited to the Ernie Fields Orchestra) and "Bumble Boogie" (1961, also credited to B. Bumble and the Stingers, with Ernie Freeman on piano). "Nut Rocker" was produced by Kim Fowley, and, since Freeman did not show up, featured pianist Al Hazan.[4]

In 1962, Fowley secured the copyright to an arrangement of Tchaikovsky's "March of the Wooden Soldiers" from his ballet The Nutcracker, and took this to local entrepreneur and pianist H. B. Barnum. Barnum recorded it as by "Jack B. Nimble and the Quicks" on the small Del Rio label. However, when Rod Pierce of Rendezvous Records heard it, he convinced Fowley that his label could do a better version with their own band. A new recording was arranged, but on the day, Ernie Freeman, who had played piano on "Bumble Boogie", did not appear, apparently due to heavy partying the night before.[citation needed] In his place, guitarist and arranger René Hall rushed pianist Al Hazan into the Rendezvous office, which was rigged up as an improvised studio. According to Hazan, "Rod decided to record the first take while I was still trying to practice the piece with the other musicians. Because I was so rushed to learn 'Nut Rocker', I was not happy at all with my performance on that first take. However, in spite of my asking Rod to let me do it over again, he said he liked it just fine the way it was."[5] Released as "Nut Rocker" in February 1962, the record went to No. 23 in the US and No. 1 in the UK.[4][6]

The song is a fast, lively track that is purely instrumental and was the band's biggest hit. It was reissued in 1972 in the UK, and again made the charts (No. 20, week ending July 8).[1]


At the time of its original release in the UK, the BBC had a policy of banning records which parodied classical music. "Nut Rocker" was put to committee, which decided that "[t]his instrumental piece is quite openly a parody of a Tchaikovsky dance tune, is clearly of an ephemeral nature, and in our opinion will not offend reasonable people", and was not therefore banned.[7]

It has been featured in many commercials, movies and television programmes such as Butcher Boy (1998), Big Momma's House (2000) and ITV's Heartbeat in 2006. The song is used as the theme tune for the Stock Rod racing formula on many of the UK's short oval car racing circuits.[8] It was also used by Romanian gymnast Simona Amanar in her floor exercise routine which won a silver medal at the 1996 Olympics. The song was used as a soundtrack in the second season of Greek comedy television series I andres den iparhoun pia (Men no longer exist), with Hristos Valavanidis and Filippos Sofianos in 1999 on Mega Channel.

Other recordings[edit][]

"Nut Rocker (Live)"
Single by Emerson, Lake & Palmer
B-side The Great Gates Of Kiev
Format 7", 45 rpm
Genre Progressive rock, jazz fusion
Length 4:25
Label Cotillion 44151

It was a live favourite when performed by prog-rockers Emerson, Lake & Palmer, whose single was also released in 1972. The single reached #70 on the U.S. BillboardHot 100[9] and #92 on U.S. Cashbox.[10] The main keyboard they used was not a piano but a Clavinet. In 2009, Trans-Siberian Orchestra released a version of "Nut Rocker", featuring Greg Lake, on their album Night Castle.

"Nut Rocker" is possibly the prime inspiration for The Ventures' similar work "Nutty", which became identified with the American NHL's Boston Bruins ice hockey team as the intro song for telecast Bruins games for two decades.[11] Dropkick Murphys released a version as one of the tracks on their 2004 Tessie EP, whose title track is devoted to another Boston major league sports team, the Red Sox.

Cultural references[edit][]

This song is used by several hosts on BBC Radio 1 as "The Going Home Song".