Jack the Ripper is a song written by Clarence Stacy, his brother Charles Stacy, Walter Haggin and Joe Simmons. It was first recorded by Clarence Stacy in 1961, arranged by Lor Crane, and issued as a single on the Carol record label in New York City.
The most famous recording was by English musician Screaming Lord Sutch (who later formed the Official Monster Raving Loony Party in 1983), released as a 7″ single in the UK and Germany in 1963 by Decca Records. It was credited to “Stacey, Hagen, Symonds”, produced by Joe Meek and recorded in his tiny Holloway Road studio in Islington, England. In a typical knee-jerk censorial over-reaction, the song was banned by the BBC upon its release.
Sutch’s 1963 version of “Jack the Ripper” is two minutes and forty-eight seconds long, in the key of B-flat major, and 4/4 time. It begins with the sound of footsteps and a woman screaming, followed by a rendition of the “Danger Ahead” motif by the guitar and drum kit, accompanied by a ghoulish moan from Screaming Lord Sutch.
The song itself is a three-chord song, with a vamp played by guitar and bass, with accompaniment by piano and drum kit, which is repeated throughout. Sutch released a funk/disco version in 1977.
Further cover versions:
- Link Wray has also covered the song in typical guitar-histrionic feedback-fuelled style.
- In 1986, Canadian garage punk band The Gruesomes covered the song and released it on the Jack the Ripper EP.
- In 2004, Detroit garage rock duo The White Stripes performed a cover of “Jack the Ripper” live as part of the Under Blackpool Lights release, incorporating the guitar riff from the “Peter Gunn” theme by Henry Mancini.
- In 2006, English garage rock band The Horrors covered the song for the B-side of their debut single, “Sheena Is a Parasite“, later included on their 2006 debut EP, The Horrors EP. A re-recorded version was later included on their 2007 debut album, Strange House.
- In more recent times, Mark E. Smith’s band The Fall have performed cover versions: