Gloria (Them song)

"Gloria" is a song that was 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.

Single by Them
from the album The Angry Young Them
A-side"Baby, Please Don't Go"
Released2 December 1964 (1964-12-02)
Format7-inch single
Recorded5 April 1964 (1964-04-05)
StudioDecca Three Studios, West Hampstead, UK
Songwriter(s)Van Morrison
Producer(s)Dick Rowe
Them singles chronology
"Baby, Please Don't Go"
"Here Comes the Night"
Audio sample
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Morrison said 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 guitar, 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

Single by Patti Smith Group
from the album Horses
B-side"My Generation (live)"
ReleasedMarch 1976
Format7-inch single
StudioElectric Lady Studios, New York City
GenrePunk rock
Producer(s)John Cale
Patti Smith Group singles chronology
"Hey Joe"
"Pissing in a River"
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  • The Gants (from the album Roadrunner) – earliest known cover version released in November 1965.
  • The Bobby Fuller Four (around the time of the song's original popularity in 1965) covered the song live at the P.J.'s nightclub. It was recorded as a track and released on Live at PJ's Plus!.
  • The Shadows of Knight single was released in December 1965 (later included in the album Gloria) and reached number 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1966, topping the original in the U.S. only in areas where Them's version could not be played, because it contained the words, "She comes to my room". Some radio stations objected to this, most notably Chicago's station WLS. The Chicago-based band Shadows of Knight's version replaced this line with "She calls out my name."[8][9]
  • Status Quo (under name The Spectres) at Saturday Club, BBC on 10/09/1966; and as Status Quo at David Symonds Show on 8/4/68 and 12/4/68.
  • The Hombres included a cover on their only album Let It Out (Let It All Hang Out), in 1968.
  • The Doors covered the song between 1968 and 1970. One of these performances was released on Alive, She Cried (1983) (number 18 on Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks and number 71 on Billboard Hot 100 in 1983). The same version can be found on The Very Best of The Doors compilation album.
  • AC/DC covered the song regularly in their early formation; lead singer Bon Scott had previously performed "Gloria" with his first group, The Spektors.
  • Patti Smith, from her 1975 album Horses.[10] This version is based on the Morrison tune, but its lyrics are reinvented for the nascent punk rock movement, retaining only the chorus, and adding possibly ironic allusions to the sacred allusions of the title. It memorably begins, "Jesus died for somebody's sins / But not mine".
  • Eddie and the Hot Rods, on their 7" titled "96 Tears/Get Out of Denver/Gloria/(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" that was released in the United Kingdom in 1976.
  • Santa Esmeralda (from the album Don't let me be misunderstood) in a disco-gypsy way in 1977.
  • Jimi Hendrix's version of "Gloria" was first included on the 1979 compilation, The Essential Jimi Hendrix Volume Two, as a 7-inch, 3313 RPM, one-sided single. It is also included on the 2000 released box set, The Jimi Hendrix Experience. His version was not a traditional cover – he included entire verses of his own creation, and appeared to be ad-libbing as he went along. The lyrics included lines about drummer Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding.
  • Joe Strummer's band The 101ers recorded the song on their album Elgin Avenue Breakdown released in 1981.
  • New Zealand band The Pleazers performed a version of the song, which is on the multiple-artist album Kiwi Classics, Vol 2.
  • U2 snippeted this song at the ending of "Exit" during practically all its live performances, including the one on their album–movie Rattle and Hum released in 1988. (They also recorded an unrelated song called "Gloria".)
  • David Bowie played the song regularly on his 1990 Sound and Vision Tour.[11]
  • A portion of the intro, guitar solo, and outtro of "Play Guitar" by John Cougar Mellencamp, was very similar to a portion of "Gloria"'s guitar riff.
  • Energy Orchard released a live version on their 1993 album, Shinola.
  • Shane MacGowan performed the song with Van Morrison at the 1994 BRIT Awards ceremony and changed "R–I–A" to "I–R–A" when singing the chorus.
  • Rick Springfield covered the song live on the 2001 album Greatest Hits Alive and has performed the song several times in concert, often following Morrison's lead by ad-libbing lyrics and stretching the song's length.[12]
  • Popa Chubby released a live album recorded at a 2003 radio show in France, entitled Live at FIP, that including "Gloria" (sung with his wife).
  • Tom Petty played the song several times on his Highway Companion Tour in 2006, and he closed most of the shows with it during his twenty-night run at The Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco in 1997.
  • The Tragically Hip performed a live version of the song, which included a monologue by Gordon Downie about tyinghis friend, Roch, to the railroad tracks.
  • Bill Murray opened the 2007 Crossroads Guitar Festival by playing "Gloria", stating that it is the only song he knows how to play, with Eric Clapton appearing on stage to expertly finish it for him.[13]
  • Gandalf Murphy and the Slambovian Circus of Dreams covered the song in a medley with the Christmas carol "Angels We Have Heard on High" on their live Christmas album A Very Slambovian Christmas, released in 2008.
  • Bruce Springsteen closed his concert at the Hershey Park Stadium on 19 August 2008 with a cover of "Gloria", proclaiming, "Let's take it back to where it all started!"[14] He also performed snippets of the song on occasion as an introduction to "She's the One" on 1978's Darkness Tour.
  • Billie Joe Armstrong sings the chorus of G-L-O-R-I-A at the ending of the song, "Horseshoes and Handgrenades" on the 2009 Green Day album 21st Century Breakdown. Also evincing Van Morrison's "Gloria" as an inspiration on their eighth album, one of the main characters is named Gloria.[15]
  • Anthony Kiedis sings G-L-O-R-I-A during the song "Venice Queen". "Venice Queen" was lyrically composed as an ode to Kiedis' drug rehabilitation therapist, Gloria Scott, who died shortly after he purchased her a home on California's Venice Beach
  • Iggy Pop covered the song on the 2011 album Roadkill Rising
  • The 13th Floor Elevators included a 1966 live cover of the song in the 2005 anniversary edition of its album The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators.
  • Dennis Quaid played the song with Meat Loaf in 2009 in concert in Winnipeg, Canada.[16]
  • Bon Jovi covered the song as part of a medley during their 2011 Bon Jovi Live tour.[17]
  • Simple Minds have covered the song on the Neon Lights album and have performed it many times live, often ending concerts with an extended rendition.[18]
  • Pidżama Porno covered the song on their 1998 album Styropian. Only the music remains from the original, with the Polish lyrics written by Krzysztof Grabowski and Marcin Świetlicki.
  • Other covers of the Morrison song include those by notable artists like Grateful Dead, Blues Traveler, R.E.M., Rickie Lee Jones, Johnny Thunders and Blues Magoos.
  • 2015 song was covered by FuguFish based on Pidżama Porno lyrics. The title of the cover – "Gorila".
  • The song has often been played live by Doctor and the Medics - a live version, credited to Gwyllym and the Raspberry Flavoured Cat, appears on the various artists compilation "Live at Alice in Wonderland: A Pretty Smart Way to Catch a Lobster" released on Flicknife Records in 1986.
  • The Raconteurs covered the song live on their fall 2019 North American tour.


One explanation for the timeless popularity of the song was offered in AllMusic's review by Bill Janovitz:[19]

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."[20]

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."[21]

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."[22]

In 1999, "Gloria" by Them received the Grammy Hall of Fame Award.[23] In 2000, "Gloria" by Them was listed as number 81 on VH1's list of The 100 Greatest Rock Songs of All Time.[24] 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.[25] "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.[26]

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)[27] Position
Billboard Hot 100 93
Chart (1966)[27] Position
Billboard Hot 100 71

Shadows of Knight

Chart (1966)[28] Position
Billboard Hot 100 10

Van Morrison and John Lee Hooker

Chart (1993)[29][30][31][32] 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 15 May 2014.
  7. All Music Guide to Rock: The Definitive Guide to Rock, Pop, and Soul - Google Books. Retrieved 15 May 2014.
  8. "Dunwich Album Discography". Retrieved 31 October 2008.
  9. "The History of Banned R&R". Retrieved 31 October 2008.
  10. Patti Smith - Gloria / In Excelsis Deo / Gloria (Version), retrieved 27 March 2019
  11. "The Sound + Vision Tour". Archived from the original on 10 February 2010. Retrieved 15 October 2009.
  12. "Songs: Gloria". Retrieved 23 March 2012.
  13. "Crossroads Guitar Festival 2007". Archived from the original on 22 September 2009. Retrieved 9 October 2009.
  14. "Bruce Springsteen, Hershey Park sweet review, 08-19-2009". Archived from the original on 18 July 2011. Retrieved 19 August 2009.
  15. "Music Review: Green Day's 21st Century Breakdown". Retrieved 2 September 2009.
  16. "MEAT LOAF: Paul and Dennis Quaid". YouTube. 10 October 2009. Retrieved 23 September 2013.
  17. "Same old bad medicine and leather trousers as Bon Jovi turn up the heat". The Irish Times. 30 June 2011. Retrieved 27 December 2011.
  18. "Songs: Gloria". Retrieved 24 February 2012.
  19. Janovitz, Bill. "Gloria". Allmusic. Retrieved 15 April 2008.
  20. Marsh, Dave (1989). "The Heart of Rock and Soul". Retrieved 15 April 2008.
  21. 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.
  22. Barry, Dave. "Glory Days" (PDF). Retrieved 10 June 2012.
  23. "GRAMMY Hall Of Fame Award". National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. 1999. Archived from the original on 7 July 2015. Retrieved 15 April 2008.
  24. "VH1 100 Greatest Rock Songs 51-100". Retrieved 1 June 2008.
  25. "The Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". 9 December 2004. Retrieved 22 May 2010.
  26. "500 Songs that shaped rock". Retrieved 3 November 2010.
  27. "Them – Billboard charts". Allmusic. Retrieved 14 April 2008.
  28. "Shadows of Knight – Billboard chart". Allmusic. Retrieved 15 April 2008.
  29. "Van Morrison – Irish chart". Irish Recorded Music Association. Archived from the original on 2 June 2009. Retrieved 2008-04-15.
  30. "Van Morrison – UK chart". Retrieved 14 April 2008.
  31. "Van Morrison – Billboard chart". Allmusic. Retrieved 14 April 2008.
  32. "Van Morrison – charts". Retrieved 14 April 2008.
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