Today we start out in 1961 when Chris Kenner had his big hit, I Like It Like That. That record has been neither lost nor forgotten since it almost got to the top of the charts. The record company split the song into two pieces and released a record that was shorter than two minutes (just the way radio stations liked records back then). Recent CDs have put them the two parts back together again; you’ve probably never heard the jazzy finish that became part 2.
He failed to reach #1 because Bobby Lewis was stuck at #1 with the biggest hit record of the year (Tossin’ and Turnin’). He struggled to follow up his hit; the closest he came was when he wrote and recorded Land of 1000 Dances in 1961 and reached #77.
In 1965 the song was covered by a Mexican-American group from Los Angeles, Cannibal and the Headhunters. Frankie Garcia (“Cannibal”) started the group in 1964. The next year he replaced the original two Headhunters and recorded a much faster version of the song than Chris did. The released version was only about two and a half minutes long and omitted the original intro.
Never underestimate the value of a one-hit-wonder: in May 1965, the group performed at a concert that also included the Rolling Stones, the Beach Boys, and the Righteous Brothers. Even more unlikely, they also toured for a few weeks as a warm-up act for the Beatles. Appearing on Hollywood A Go-Go even gave them a chance to be on television.
Alas, their single only got as high as #30, and their career was over except for public appearances. Frankie retired from performing in 1983 and Robert Zapata became the new “Cannibal.” Robert had been with Frankie as a Headhunter since 1969 and is still leading the group today.
In 2005 the original, unedited version of the song by Cannibal and the Headhunters was released on a CD by Varèse Sarabande. That version includes an intro similar to the one Chris Kenner had on his single. That stretched the song by about 30 seconds.
The song finally became a hit when Wilson Pickett recorded his version in 1966 and reached #6 on the pop charts and #1 on the R&B charts.