Friday, September 29, 2006

Fifty Years Ago Today: Fats Domino charted with “Blueberry Hill” (9/29/1956)

image from cohencentric.com


Fats Domino “Blueberry Hill”


Writer(s): Vincent Rose/ Al Rose/ Larry Stock (see lyrics here)

First charted: 9/29/1956

Peak: 2 US, 111, 6 UK (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, -- UK, 1.0 world (includes US and UK)

Radio Airplay (in millions): -- Video Airplay (in millions): --


Review: The song that established Fats Domino as one of the pivotal figures in transforming R&B into rock and roll began life as a number in the 1940 Western The Singing Hill SF sung by Gene Autry. He may have birthed the song, but it quickly entered the public conscience with Sammy Kaye, Gene Krupa, Glenn Miller, Kay Kyser, Russ Morgan, Connee Boswell, and Jimmy Dorsey WK all taking a crack at it. After Autry’s original, the song charted three times in 1940. Kyser and Morgan each took it into the top 20 while Miller went all the way to #1 on the U.S. pop charts with his take on the song.

In 1949, Louis Armstrong added a more R&B vibe to “Blueberry Hill.” Armstrong’s interpretation informed Fats’ recording NRR as he birthed a “rock and roll standard.” WK The song was Domino’s biggest hit, giving him his greatest audience. Rockabilly star Carl Perkins said, “In the white honky-tonks where I was playin’, they were punchin’ ‘Blueberry Hill.’ And white cats were dancin’ to Fats Domino.” RS500

The song reemerged in the ‘70s as a sort of theme for a television character on the popular series Happy Days. High schooler Ritchie Cunningham, played by now famous director Ron Howard, would break into the song whenever he’d scored a dating coup. SF

The Doors’ Ray Manzarek confirmed the song’s influence on future generations of rock and roll when he revealed on a BBC Radio 2 program that the Doors’ classic #1 hit “Light My Fire” took its baseline from “Blueberry Hill.” SF


Resources and Related Links:

Note: Footnotes (raised letter codes) refer to sources frequently cited on the blog. Numbers following the letter code indicate page numbers. If the raised letter code is a link, it will go directly to the correct page instead of the home page of a website. You can find the sources and corresponding footnotes on the “Lists” page in the “Song Resources” section.


Award(s):