Warren G.’s “Regulate” is By the Same Guys Who Wrote “Hound Dog”


Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller formed perhaps the greatest rock and roll songwriting partnership of the Golden Age. Leiber and Stoller are credited with pathbreaking compositions like “Hound Dog,” “Kansas City,” and “Love Potion No. 9.” And as the in-house writing team for the coasters, they penned classics like “Poison Ivy,” “Yakety Yak,” and “Searchin’”.

Chuck Jackson—I Keep Forgetting (1962)

Simply stated, Leiber and Stoller basically owned the Billboard charts in the late 50s and early 60s. And yet, one of their most innovative compositions is also one for which they are rarely recognized. In 1962, they produced a song called “I Keep Forgettin’” for Chuck Jackson. A former singer for the Del-Vikings, Chuck Jackson offered a debonair vocal and a radio-friendly delivery.

Chuck Jackson scored a minor hit, reaching #7 on the charts but fading relatively quickly.

Procol Harum–I Keep Forgetting (1975)

Numerous artists recorded covers over the next twenty years. Perhaps most notable was a 1975 version by Procol Harum. The band–most famous for “White Shade of Pale”–included the song on their 8th studio album (confusingly titled Procol’s Ninth). Not coincidentally, Leiber and Stoller served as producers for the album.

Procol Harum’s cover failed to chart.

Michael McDonald—I Keep Forgetting (Every Time Your Near) (1982)

Fast-forward to 1982. Bellowing blue-eyed soul singer Michael McDonald has just taken a step away from the Doobie Brothers to record his solo debut album. For his first single, McDonald collaborated on a “new” composition with Ed Sanford.

Sanford was best known as half of Sanford & Townsend, the duo responsible for lite-FM hit “Smoke From a Distant Fire.”

McDonald and Sanford originally claimed credit for the song. However, it bore an unmistakable similarity to the Chuck Jackson original. As a result, Leiber & Stoller were awarded partial songwriting credit for the new release.

This was a profitable credit for Leiber & Stoller, as “I Keep Forgettin’” became a perennial radio player in late 1982. lt’s easy to hear why today. The slick, sumptuous synth-funk on McDonald’s new record was the product of some serious musicianship, and more than a little studio polish.

McDonald is backed by his sister Maureen on vocals, three guys from Toto, and the legendary bassist Louis Johnson (of the Brothers Johnson, best known for their hit cover of Shuggie Otis’s “Strawberry Letter 23”).

Released in August, “I Keep Forgetting” was a crossover hit, reaching #8 on the Adult Contemporary chart, #7 on the R&B chart, and #4 on the Billboard Pop Singles chart.

Warren G. and Nate Dogg—Regulate (1994)

For the next decade, crate-diggers and turntablists showered dancefloors with samples from the 1982 hit. DJs seized on Johnson’s cruising baseline and McDonald’s silky keyboard groove for countless hip hop samples. The most notable of these was the West Coast hip hop smash “Regulate” by Warren G. And Nate Dogg.

Nate Dogg is Snoop Dogg’s cousin, hence the shared surname, obviously.

Warren G. and Nate Dogg mashed McDonald up with a sample from smooth jazz kingpin Bob James (“Sign of the Times”).

Def Jam records released “Regulate” as the lead single off the soundtrack to Above the Rim, striking gold just as West Coast hip hop peaked in its power and visibility. The result was a rare downtempo hip hop hit and a massively influential recording.

“Regulate” reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 on its way to becoming the biggest selling single in the Def Jam catalogue.

Bonus Mix

A few tunes inspired by Chuck, Michael, and Warren G.