Blue on Black
Kenny Wayne Shepherd
Writer(s): Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Mark Selby, Tia Sillers (see lyrics here)
Released: April 7, 1998
First Charted: January 24, 1998
Peak: 78 US, 8 AA, 16 AR, 12 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)
Sales (in millions): --
Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 52.1 video, 48.96 streaming
Click on award for more details.
About the Song:
In the wake of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s death in 1990, several white blues artists emerged during the nineties as possible heirs to his throne. The most successful of these was Kenny Wayne Shepherd. Born in 1977 in Shreveport, Louisiana, he began seriously playing guitar at age 7 after meeting Vaughan. Shepherd released his first album, Ledbetter Heights, in 1995 when he was 18 years old.
That album gave him a top-10 mainstream rock hit with “Déjà Voodoo,” but he found even greater success with 1997’s Trouble Is, an album which produced four top-10 hits on the mainstream rock chart. The most successful of these – and the biggest hit of Shepherd’s career – was “Blue on Black.” The song not only reached #1, but was ranked as Billboard’s top rock track of 1998. GN It was also Shepherd’s only chart hit on the Billboard Hot 100, reaching #78.
Shepherd wrote the song with the husband-and-wife team of Mark Selby and Tia Sillers. Shepherd and Selby had the music down and then Sillers (who also co-wrote Lee Ann Womack’s “I Hope You Dance”) came up with the idea for the lyrics. She noticed Shepherd’s shirt, which was blue on black. As he said, “if you mix those two colors together, black consumes the blue.” WK It became a “powerful metaphor for a one-sided or broken relationship.” SF Billboard magazine described the song as a “widely appealing meld of brooding southern rock, searing blues guitar and alt-country touches.” WK
The heavy metal band Five Finger Death Punch recorded the song for their 2018 album And Justice for None. A single was released which featured Shepherd as well as Queen guitarist Brian May and country singer Brantley Gilbert. It also reached #1 on the mainstream rock chart and was a #66 hit on the Billboard Hot 100. Proceeds were given to the Gary Sinise Foundation, which aids veterans and first responders.
First posted 12/23/2022.