eight to the bar
“Beat Me Daddy, Eight to the Bar” is a song written in 1940 by Don Raye, with credit given to Ray McKinley. It follows the American boogie-woogie tradition of syncopated piano music. The song was first recorded in 1940 by the Will Bradley orchestra, with Freddie Slack on piano. The recording placed in Billboard’s top 10 that year.
The title adopts 1940s hipster slang coined by Raye’s friend, Ray McKinley, a drummer and lead singer in the Jimmy Dorsey band in the 1930s. McKinley kicked off certain uptempo songs by asking pianist Freddie Slack — nicknamed “Daddy” — to give him a boogie beat, or “eight to the bar”. For that reason Raye gave partial songwriting credit to McKinley. (The song was formally published under McKinley’s wife’s name, Eleanore Sheehy, because McKinley was under a songwriting contract with another publisher.) The nickname “Daddy Slack” was also used in the 1941 recording by “Pig Foot Pete” with Don Raye singing in Slack’s band.