HE'S GUILTY (THE JUDGE SONG)

Robbin Thompson's Cover version


All rise

Judge and the jury came into the court room
It was about 9:30, the 23rd of June
They were here to try this boy for a crime
To see if we set him free or make him serve his time
The jury all got up in the chairs
He's guilty, he's guilty, send that boy to jail

George been speeding, running down his mother
Stabbing his wife and strangling her lover
The court is ready to hear your plea
Son, are you guilty or not guilty
The jury all got up to hear his plea
He's guilty, he's guilty, don't let that boy go free

[instrumental]

All rise

The judge and the jury came into the court room
It was about 9:30, the 23rd of June
They were here to try this boy for a crime
To see if we set him free or make him serve his time
The jury all got up in the chairs
He's guilty, he's guilty, send that boy to jail
He's guilty, he's guilty, send that boy to jail
He's guilty, he's guilty, send that boy to... jail


Info

The above lyrics are for Robbin Thompson's cover version of HE'S GUILTY (THE JUDGE SONG). He originally released it on his 1985 album Better Late Than Never.

Robbin Thompson -- Better Late Than Never
Robbin Thompson -- Better Late Than Never

LP - Out There Records (OTR-585) - USA, 1985

Robbin Thompson

Robbin Thompson, a Florida native, was the lead singer and songwriter with several Florida-based bands including The Hanging Five (1963-1964), The Five Gents (1964-1965), The Tasmanians (1966-1967), and Transcontinental Mercy Flight (1968). In early 1969 he relocated from Florida to Richmond where he formed Mercy Flight. The Richmond-based band had regularly opened for Steel Mill. In mid-August 1970, while Steel Mill was touring Virginia, Bruce Springsteen met with Robbin Thompson and offered him a position in Steel Mill. Thompson, who was attending school at the time, accepted the offer. He quit school, resigned from Mercy Flight on 23 Aug 1970, and relocated north to New Jersey the following week where he joined Steel Mill as a lead vocalist. While Springsteen was Steel Mill's main songwriter, the band also performed some Thompson songs, including TRAIN RIDE.

When Steel Mill disbanded in January 1972 and Springsteen went solo, Thompson returned to Virginia where he pursued a solo career of his own. He released a number of albums, most of which on his own label Out There Records. He recorded two Springsteen-written Steel Mill songs, HE'S GUILTY (THE JUDGE SONG), released on his 1985 album Better Late Than Never, and THE TRAIN SONG, released on his 2003 album One Step Ahead of the Blues. In 1990 he co-founded In Your Ear, a music composition and production company and recording studio in Richmond, VA.

Since the breakup of Steel Mill, Thompson and Springsteen have occasionally guested at each other's concerts:

  • Springsteen joined Thompson onstage for one song during Thompson's 06 Aug 1981 show at Bayou Club in Washington, DC
  • Thompson joined Springsteen onstage for one song during Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band's 18 Jan 1985 show at Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, NC
  • Thompson joined Springsteen onstage for one song during Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band's 06 Mar 2003 show at Richmond Coliseum in Richmond, VA
  • Thompson joined Springsteen onstage for one song during Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band's 18 Aug 2008 show at Richmond Coliseum in Richmond, VA

Liner Notes

Robbin Thompson wrote in the liner notes of the One Step Up / Two Steps Back: The Songs Of Bruce Springsteen tribute album:

I first heard "Guilty" in late 1969 or early 1970 in Richmond, VA. I was a student in Virginia Commonwealth University. The new kid in town from Florida by way of Woodstock. I started a band in Richmond called Mercy Flight and we were booked to open for this band from Jersey that everyone was talkin' about called Steel Mill.

Mercy Flight did some original songs but most of it was like long versions of Creedence Clearwater Revival stuff. Anyway... we opened and Steel Mill hit the stage with "Guilty," and it blew me away. I said "this guy is gonna be somebody one day."

Over the course of about a year and many concerts together, Bruce asked me if I wanted to join a band as a singer. I quit school and moved to Jersey to live in the Challenger Surfboard factory with Bruce and Tinker West, who was the manager at the time. Steel Mill broke up a year later and I went back to Virginia to do my own thing. I think it was 1982 or '83 when Bruce came to one of my concerts at the bayou in D.C. I saw him come in so we broke into "Guilty." He sat in with us for the encores and after the show he said, "man. I really liked that 'Judge Song'." I said, "well, it's your tune, can I record it?" He said, "sure, go ahead." So in 1984 I did.

I think I remember Bruce tellin' me that it was written after he was arrested for sneakin' into the beach on the Jersey Shore to avoid the dollar admission fee.

Other Official Releases

Robbin Thompson's cover version of HE'S GUILTY (THE JUDGE SONG) was also included on a various artists Bruce Springsteen tribute album.

Various artists -- One Step Up / Two Steps Back: The Songs Of Bruce Springsteen
Various artists -- One Step Up / Two Steps Back: The Songs Of Bruce Springsteen

2xCD - The Right Stuff (7243 8 59780 2 9) - USA, 1997
2xCD - EMI (TOCP-50377/8) - Japan, 1997

This is a Bruce Springsteen tribute album. Disc 1 was reissued in 2000 as The Songs Of Bruce Springsteen.
Robbin Thompson -- The Vinyl Years
Robbin Thompson -- The Vinyl Years

CD - Out There Records (unknown catalog number) - USA, 2003

This album compiles tracks from Thompson's first three albums: Robbin Thompson (1976), Together (1978), and Better Late Than Never (1985).

Available Versions

List of available versions of HE'S GUILTY (THE JUDGE SONG) on this website:

HE'S GUILTY (THE JUDGE SONG) [Official studio version]
HE'S GUILTY (THE JUDGE SONG) [Live 13 Jan 1970 version]
HE'S GUILTY (THE JUDGE SONG) [Robbin Thompson's Cover version]
HE'S GUILTY (THE JUDGE SONG) [Steel Mill Retro's cover version]

Page last updated: 28 Sep 2015