In the United Kingdom, Lowe's version reached Number 8 on the charts, but a version by Frankie Vaughan was even more popular, reaching Number 2. Another UK recording, by Glen Mason, reached Number 24 on the UK chart. The most popular British version was by rock and roll revivalist Shakin Stevens which spent four weeks at Number 1 in August 1981. The song has been covered by many other artists.
Possible inspirations for the song are numerous. One source believes that after the ‘Great Chicago Fire’, a tavern opened in Chicago known as the ‘Green Door Tavern’. The period was during prohibition and ‘The Green Door Tavern’ was the place to get secret libations. Thereafter, the colour green became a symbol of a speakeasy. Another plausible suggestion of the song's origins is that it was inspired by an after-hours club in Dallas, Texas, to which lyricist Moore had been refused entry because he did not know the correct password.
This song was released during a nine-month period of my life when I was a patient at Batley Hospital (long since closed) following a serious traffic accident that left me unable to walk and with multiple life-threatening injuries. Long before Shakin Stevens was to cover the song in 1981, I would regularly see Frankie Vaughan on the hospital television in top hat and tails, end each chorus hollering , ‘Green Door’ as he kicked his legs high in the air like a can-can dancer who couldn’t show off enough of their frilly undercarriage to the admiring onlooker. As Frankie’s leg headed towards the ceiling, he’d bounce the silver-topped cane he held as hard as he could off the floor, always catching it on the rebound. How I used to watch and wait for him to drop the cane as he twirled it between his fingers and bounced it off the floor, but being the accomplished performer, he was, he never missed catching the cane as it twirled and bounced.
The name of the song, ‘Green Door’ instantly appealed to me as my father had painted the door to our newly acquired council house on Windybank Estate green shortly after our family had moved in there two years earlier. This was at a time when all council doors on the estate were painted the same colour (a mucky brown shade) and which tenants were forbidden from painting a different colour to their neighbours. My father, mother, myself and sisters Mary and Eileen were Irish migrants who came to England during the ‘First World War’ years. Dad worked down the coal mines and mum looked after the house and the seven children she was to have (I was her firstborn).
My father was a man of limited formal education, strict in all his disciplines and constant in his tastes and values. There was only one colour this Irish rebel could ever favour and that was ‘green’; the only colour of any true Irish man. The front door was painted green by him, along with the front gate, the shed door and every other wooden door and kitchen surface inside the house; even the old wooden kitchen table. He even painted the old wooden radio which stood on a kitchen working surface all my childhood and teenage years, green! This was the radio that the family would listen to nightly, and for years after my father had painted it, my mother would complain every time she tried to read the stations behind the green paint splashes dad had left on the plastic dial.
Other aspects outside the house that couldn’t be painted, like the back and front lawns and the box-tree hedge surround that my father faithfully trimmed weekly after his own trip to the local barber, didn’t need painting. They blended naturally with all the other shades of green that surrounded the Forde household. I now know why dad ate so much cabbage and why the large expanse of fields and meadows off the estate, and where we would play daily, was called ‘Green Lane’.
So, you see, I never really wondered what went on behind the ‘Green Door’ as I lived there at 19, Eighth Avenue, Windybank Estate, with my parents and six siblings between the ages of 9-26 when I got married.
Love and peace Bill xxx