Gloria (Them song)

"Gloria" is a song written by Northern Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison and originally recorded by Morrison's band Them in 1964 and released as the B-side of "Baby, Please Don't Go". The song became a garage rock staple and a part of many rock bands' repertoires. It is particularly memorable for its "Gloria!" chorus. It is easy to play, as a simple three-chord song, and thus is popular with those learning to play guitar.

Gloria (Them song) coverart
Single by Them
from the album The Angry Young Them
A-side "Baby, Please Don't Go"
Released 2 December 1964
Format 7-inch single
Recorded 5 April 1964
Studio Decca Three Studios, West Hampstead, UK
Length 2:38
Label Decca
Songwriter(s) Van Morrison
Producer(s) Dick Rowe
Them singles chronology
"Baby, Please Don't Go"
"Here Comes the Night"
"Baby, Please Don't Go"
"Here Comes the Night"
Audio sample
  • file
  • help


Morrison said that he wrote "Gloria" while he performed with the Monarchs in Germany in the summer of 1963, at just about the time he turned 18 years old.[4] He started to perform it at the Maritime Hotel when he returned to Belfast and joined up with the Gamblers to form the band Them. He would ad-lib lyrics as he performed, sometimes stretching the song to 15 or 20 minutes. After signing a contract with Dick Rowe and Decca, Them went to London for a recording session at Decca Three Studios in West Hampstead on 5 April 1964; "Gloria" was one of the seven songs recorded that day. Besides Morrison, present were Billy Harrison on guitar, Alan Henderson on bass, Ronnie Millings on drums and Patrick John McCauley on keyboards. Rowe brought in session musicians Arthur Greenslade on organ and Bobby Graham on drums, since he considered the Them members too inexperienced. There remains some dispute about whether Millings and McCauley were miked up, but Alan Henderson contends that Them constituted the first rock group to use two drummers on a recording.[5] Although some sources claim that Jimmy Page played second guitar, other sources deny this.[6][7]

"Gloria" was the B-side when "Baby, Please Don't Go" was released in the U.K. on 6 November 1964. It was re-released in 1973 on the Deram label, but did not chart.


Original studio recording by Them

Studio version with John Lee Hooker

Live versions by Van Morrison

Cover versions

Patti Smith Group - Gloria
Single by Patti Smith Group
from the album Horses
B-side "My Generation"
Released April 13, 1975
Format 7-inch single
Recorded 1975
Studio Electric Lady Studios, New York City
Genre Punk rock
Length 5:57
Label Arista
Producer(s) John Cale
Patti Smith Group singles chronology
"Hey Joe"
"Pissing in a River"
"Hey Joe"
"Pissing in a River"
Audio sample
  • file
  • help


One explanation for the timeless popularity of the song was offered in AllMusic's review by Bill Janovitz:[18]

The beauty of the original is that Van Morrison needs only to speak-sing, in his Howlin' Wolf growl, "I watch her come up to my house/She knocks upon my door/And then she comes up to my room/I want to say she makes me feel all right/G-L-O-R-I-A!" to convey his teenage lust. The original Latin meaning of the name is not lost on Morrison. Them never varies from the three chords, utilizing only dynamic changes to heighten the tension.

"Gloria" was rated number 69 on Dave Marsh's list in the 1989 book The Heart of Rock & Soul: The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made. He described the song as "one of the few rock songs that's actually as raunchy as its reputation."[19]

In his book Rock and Roll: The 100 Best Singles, Paul Williams said about the two sides of the "Baby Please Don't Go/Gloria" recording: "Into the heart of the beast ... here is something so good, so pure, that if no other hint of it but this record existed, there would still be such a thing as rock and roll ... Van Morrison's voice a fierce beacon in the darkness, the lighthouse at the end of the world. Resulting in one of the most perfect rock anthems known to humankind."[20]

Humourist Dave Barry joked that "You can throw a guitar off a cliff, and as it bounces off rocks on the way down, it will, all by itself, play Gloria."[21]

In 1999, "Gloria" by Them received the Grammy Hall of Fame Award.[22] In 2000, "Gloria" by Them was listed as number 81 on VH1's list of The 100 Greatest Rock Songs of All Time.[23] In 2004, "Gloria" by Them was ranked #208 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, moving down to #211 in the 2010 updated list.[24] "Gloria" was also included in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll twice: by Patti Smith and by Shadows of Knight.[25]

In the media

Them's recording of the song appeared in an episode of TV series The Sopranos, "Pine Barrens", accompanying the appearance of Annabella Sciorra's character Gloria Trillo. "Gloria" by Them was played a number of times in the 1983 film The Outsiders and also sung while fending off the monster in the jukebox musical, Return to the Forbidden Planet. It was also professional skateboarder Jim Greco's song in the video "Baker 2g".



Chart (1965)[26] Position
Billboard Hot 100 93
Chart (1966)[26] Position
Billboard Hot 100 71

Shadows of Knight

Chart (1966)[27] Position
Billboard Hot 100 10

Van Morrison and John Lee Hooker

Chart (1993)[28][29][30][31] Position
Irish Singles Chart 17
UK Singles Chart 31
Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks 36
Australia 22
Netherlands 37
  • 1 As a B-side on 1964 single "Baby, Please Don't Go", the original recording charted at number 10 in the UK mostly due to the popularity of "Gloria".


  • Williams, Paul; Berryhill, Cindy Lee (December 1993). "Baby Please Don't Go / Gloria – Them (1964)". Rock and Roll: The 100 Best Singles (Hardcover ed.). United States: Entwhistle Books. pp. 71–72. ISBN 978-0-934558-41-9.
  • Rogan, Johnny (June 2005). Van Morrison: No Surrender (Hardcover ed.). United Kingdom: Secker and Warburg. ISBN 978-0-436-20566-8.
  • Heylin, Clinton (2003). Can You Feel the Silence? Van Morrison: A New Biography, Chicago Review Press ISBN 1-55652-542-7
  • Turner, Steve (1993). Van Morrison: Too Late to Stop Now, Viking Penguin, ISBN 0-670-85147-7


  1. ^ Stiernberg, Bonnie. "The 50 Best Garage Rock Songs of All Time". Paste. Retrieved 15 May 2016.
  2. ^ Johnny Rogan (2006). Van Morrison: No Surrender. Vintage. p. 102. ISBN 978-0-09-943183-1.
  3. ^ Pafford, Steve (6 July 2010). Bowie Style. Music Sales Limited. p. 152. ISBN 978-0-85712-364-0.
  4. ^ Heylin, p. 76
  5. ^ Turner, p. 46-49
  6. ^ Please Please Me : Sixties British Pop, Inside Out: Sixties British Pop ... - Gordon Thompson - Google Books. Retrieved 2014-05-15.
  7. ^ All Music Guide to Rock: The Definitive Guide to Rock, Pop, and Soul - Google Books. Retrieved 2014-05-15.
  8. ^ "Dunwich Album Discography". Retrieved 2008-10-31.
  9. ^ "The History of Banned R&R". Retrieved 2008-10-31.
  10. ^ "The Sound + Vision Tour". Archived from the original on 10 February 2010. Retrieved 15 October 2009.
  11. ^ "Songs: Gloria". Retrieved 23 March 2012.
  12. ^ "Crossroads Guitar Festival 2007". Archived from the original on 22 September 2009. Retrieved 9 October 2009.
  13. ^ "Bruce Springsteen, Hershey Park sweet review, 08-19-2009". Archived from the original on 18 July 2011. Retrieved 19 August 2009.
  14. ^ "Music Review: Green Day's 21st Century Breakdown". Retrieved 2009-09-02.
  15. ^ "MEAT LOAF: Paul and Dennis Quaid". YouTube. 10 October 2009. Retrieved 2013-09-23.
  16. ^ "Same old bad medicine and leather trousers as Bon Jovi turn up the heat". The Irish Times. 30 June 2011. Retrieved 27 December 2011.
  17. ^ "Songs: Gloria". Retrieved 24 February 2012.
  18. ^ Janovitz, Bill. "Gloria". Allmusic. Retrieved 2008-04-15.
  19. ^ Marsh, Dave (1989). "The Heart of Rock and Soul". Retrieved 2008-04-15.
  20. ^ Williams, Paul; Berryhill, Cindy Lee (December 1993). "Baby Please Don't Go / Gloria – Them (1964)". Rock and Roll: The 100 Best Singles (Hardcover ed.). United States: Entwhistle Books. pp. 71–72. ISBN 978-0-934558-41-9.
  21. ^ Barry, Dave. "Glory Days" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-06-10.
  22. ^ "GRAMMY Hall Of Fame Award". National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. 1999. Archived from the original on 7 July 2015. Retrieved 2008-04-15.
  23. ^ "VH1 100 Greatest Rock Songs 51-100". Retrieved 2008-06-01.
  24. ^ "The Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". 2004-12-09. Retrieved 2010-05-22.
  25. ^ "500 Songs that shaped rock". Retrieved 2010-11-03.
  26. ^ a b "Them – Billboard charts". Allmusic. Retrieved 2008-04-14.
  27. ^ "Shadows of Knight – Billboard chart". Allmusic. Retrieved 2008-04-15.
  28. ^ "Van Morrison – Irish chart". Irish Recorded Music Association. Archived from the original on 3 June 2009. Retrieved 2008-04-15.
  29. ^ "Van Morrison – UK chart". Retrieved 2008-04-14.
  30. ^ "Van Morrison – Billboard chart". Allmusic. Retrieved 2008-04-14.
  31. ^ "Van Morrison – charts". Retrieved 2008-04-14.

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