Friday, March 3, 2006

50 years ago: Carl Perkins charted with “Blue Suede Shoes”

Blue Suede Shoes

Carl Perkins

Writer(s): Carl Perkins (see lyrics here)

Released: February 1956

First Charted: March 3, 1956

Peak: 2 US, 2 CB, 11 HR, 13 CW, 2 RB, 10 UK (Click for codes to singles charts.)

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

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 2.0 radio, 2.98 video, 20.19 streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

The “most famous rockabilly record of all time” AMG owes its existence to Johnny Cash’s stint in the Air Force and a careless dancer. Cash, who at the time was a Sun Records label mate with Perkins, relayed the story to Perkins of servicemen lining up for food or pay with freshly-polished shoes HL and warn each other, “Don’t step on my blue suede shoes.” TC It was just a few weeks laterHL that Perkins heard someone in a crowd at a dance spit out a similar line TC to his date for scuffing his shoes. SA After the dance was over, Perkins supposedly scribbled down the song lyrics on an old potato sack. JA

In rock and roll’s infancy, many were convinced it was devil’s music. SF With lyrical references to drinking and stealing cars, SF Perkins’ debut Sun single was certainly not exempt. Regardless, or perhaps because of it, the song became Perkins’ biggest hit and the first song to hit the pop, R&B, and country charts in the U.S. RS500 and has become “one of the national anthems of ‘50s rock & roll” AMG

Carl Perkins missed out on a chance to perform the song on The Perry Como Show when his car crashed into a poultry truck while he was driving to New York for the performance. While laid up for a couple weeks, he helplessly watched Elvis perform the song on The Milton Berle Show. RS500 However, no one could take the song away from Perkins, who pulled off a feat even Elvis couldn’t do – he gave Sun Records a top 10 U.S. pop hit. SJ Elvis’ version only reached #20 and “The King” confessed that he couldn’t top the original by Perkins. RS500

Resources and Related Links:

  • DMDB Encyclopedia entry for Carl Perkins
  • AMG All Music Guide review by Cub Koda
  • TC Toby Creswell (2005). 1001 Songs: The Great Songs of All Time. Thunder’s Mouth Press: New York, NY. Page 379.
  • HL Michael Heatley and Spencer Leigh (1998). Behind the Song: The Stories of 100 Great Pop & Rock Classics. London, England: Blandford Books. Page 87.
  • JA David A. Jasen (2002). A Century of American Popular Music: 2000 Best-Loved and Remembered Songs (1899-1999). Routledge: Taylor & Francis, Inc. Page 25.
  • RS500 (4/7/2011). “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time
  • SJ Bob Shannon and John Javna (1986). Behind the Hits: Inside Stories of Classic Pop and Rock and Roll. New York, NY; Warner Brothers, Inc. Page 218.
  • SF Songfacts

Last updated 4/30/2021.

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