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Recordings by Irma Thomas, Dr. John named to Grammy Hall of Fame

Dr. John's 1973 album "In the Right Place" and Irma Thomas' 1964 recording of "Time Is On My Side" have been added to the Grammy Hall of Fame.
Credit: AP
Dr. John (Mac Rebennack) and Irma Thomas (AP photos).

NEW ORLEANS — Recordings by New Orleans music legends Irma Thomas and Dr. John have been named to the Grammy Hall of Fame by the Recording Academy. The 2021 Hall of Fame inductees were announced Monday.

Dr. John's 1973 album "In the Right Place" has been named to the Grammy Hall of Fame, along with Thomas' legendary 1964 single, "Time Is On My Side."

To be included in the Grammy Hall of Fame, songs must be at least 25 years old and "exhibit qualitative or historical significance." Recordings are selected by a committee made up of professionals from various branches of the recording industry. Final choices are approved by the Recording Academy National Board of Trustees. 

"In the Right Place," regarded as a seminal funk album, was the sixth album by Dr. John (Mac Rebennack). It became the biggest-selling album of his career. It featured two songs which would become hit-makers for Dr. John including "Right Place, Wrong Time" (which remains his most recognized song) and "Such a Night." 

In July 1973, the single "Right Place, Wrong Time" peaked at #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.

The album was produced by the late Allen Toussaint, who also performed on several tracks, along with The Meters (Art Neville, Leo Nocentelli, George Porter Jr. and Zigaboo Modeliste).

Thomas, the Grammy-winning Soul Queen of New Orleans, was not the first artist to record "Time Is On My Side," but it has become one of her hallmarks. The Rolling Stones famously covered the song in 1964, the same year Thomas' version was released. The song was written by Jerry Ragovoy (using the pseudonym Norman Meade). It was actually first recorded by jazz trombonist Kai Winding in 1963.

Thomas recorded it in early 1964 on her Imperial Records album, "Wish Someone Would Care." According to a 2019 story by The Times-Picayune's Keith Spera, musicians on the track included Earl Palmer, who became one of the most prolific session drummers of all time. Also present were Jackie DeShannon (guitar), who co-wrote another Thomas classic, "Breakaway," and bassist Carol Kaye. The girl-group the Blossoms, featuring Darlene Love, contributed backing vocals.

After hearing the song, The Rolling Stones, who at the time were still an up-and-coming band not yet well known in America, liked it so much they recorded their own version. Remaking songs originally recorded by Black rhythm & blues musicians was not uncommon in the 1950s and '60s.  

RELATED: Irma Thomas gives lesson in Civil Rights history to FBI agents

The Stones' first version of "Time Is On My Side" was released in Sept. 1964. A second version was recorded in November of that year and released in Jan. 1965. The song became their first single to crack the Top 10 on the Billboard pop singles chart in America, peaking at No. 6. 

Last year, Thomas recalled how the Stones' success led to confusion over who first recorded the song.

"Every time I did it, they said I was doing the Rolling Stones. And I was not doing the Rolling Stones. I was doing Irma!" she told the newspaper. 

Frustrated, Thomas dropped the song from her setlist for more than 20 years. But she began singing it again in 1992 at the urging of friend and fellow star Bonnie Raitt. It has become a mainstay of Thomas' performances since then.

RELATED: Dr. John's curtain call: New Orleans pays its respects to the celebrated music legend

The recordings by Thomas and Dr. John, who won six Grammys before his death in 2019, join a list of 29 inductees to the Hall of Fame. The list includes works by Billie Holiday, Journey, Linda Ronstadt, Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam and the Village People.

Over the years, works by several other New Orleans and Louisiana artists have been included in the 1,142 recordings included in the Grammy Hall of Fame. They include several by Fats Domino and Dave Bartholomew: "I'm Walkin'," "Blueberry Hill," "Ain't It A Shame," "Walking to New Orleans" and "The Fat Man." 

RELATED: Fats Domino's "I'm Walkin'" named to Grammy Hall of Fame

Also inducted previously were Louis Armstrong (for several songs and albums), Professor Longhair ("Tipitina"), the Meters ("Cissy Strut"), Aaron Neville ("Tell It Like It Is"), the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, Mahalia Jackson and former Gov. Jimmie Davis ("You Are My Sunshine").

Here is the complete list of 2021 Grammy Hall of Fame inductees:

"AU CLAIR DE LA LUNE"
Édouard-Léon Scott De Martinville
Single

BLUES BREAKERS
John Mayall With Eric Clapton
Album

CANCIONES DE MI PADRE
Linda Ronstadt
Album

"CLEAN UP WOMAN"
Betty Wright
Single

"COPENHAGEN"
Fletcher Henderson And His Orchestra
Single

"DON'T STOP BELIEVIN'"
Journey
Single

"FREIGHT TRAIN"
Elizabeth Cotten
Single

GREETINGS FROM ASBURY PARK, N.J.
Bruce Springsteen
Album

HORSES
Patti Smith
Album

HOT BUTTERED SOUL
Isaac Hayes
Album

IN THE RIGHT PLACE
Dr. John
Album

LICENSED TO ILL
Beastie Boys
Album

MAD DOGS & ENGLISHMEN
Joe Crocker
Album

MERCY, MERCY, MERCY! LIVE AT "THE CLUB"
The Cannonball Adderley Quintet
Album

RAVEL: PIANO CONCERTO IN G MAJOR
Leonard Bernstein With The Philharmonia Orchestra Of London
Album

SCHOENBERG: THE FOUR STRING QUARTETS
Kolisch String Quartet
Album

SO
Peter Gabriel
Album

"SOLITUDE"
Billie Holiday
Single

TEN
Pearl Jam
Album

TEXAS FLOOD 
Stevie Ray Vaughan And Double Trouble
Album

THE CARS
The Cars
Album

"THE GAMBLER"
Kenny Rogers
Single

THE LOW END THEORY 
A Tribe Called Quest
Album

"TIME IS ON MY SIDE"
Irma Thomas
Single

TRIO
Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris
Album

"WE ARE THE WORLD"
USA For Africa
Single

"WHEN THE LEVEE BREAKS"
Kansas Joe And Memphis Minnie
Single

"WRECK OF THE OLD 97"
Vernon Dalhart
Single

"Y.M.C.A."
Village People
Single