Ram Jam was an American rock band formed in New York City in 1977, predominantly known for their hit single “Black Betty” in 1977.
“Black Betty” is a 20th-century African-American work song often credited to Huddie “Lead Belly” Ledbetter as the author, though the earliest recordings are not by him. Some sources claim it is one of Lead Belly’s many adaptations of earlier folk material; in this case an 18th-century marching cadence about a flintlock musket.
In 1977, the rock band Ram Jam—which included former Starstruck and Lemon Pipers guitarist Bill Bartlett—re-released an edit of the Starstruck recording of the song with producers Jerry Kasenetz and Jeffry Katz under Epic Records. The song became an instant hit with listeners, as it reached number 18 on the singles charts in the United States and the top ten in the UK and Australia. At the same time, the lyrics caused civil rights groups NAACP and Congress of Racial Equality to call for a boycott.
Figure skating world champion Javier Fernández performed his short program to Ram Jam’s version of “Black Betty” during the 2014-15 season, when he won his third European Championships title and his first World Championships gold medal. The level Castle Rock from the 2013 video game Rayman Legends is based on Ram Jam’s version of “Black Betty”.