Black Denim Trousers and Motorcycle Boots
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"Black Denim Trousers and Motorcycle Boots" is a popular teenage tragedy song that was a top-ten hit for The Cheers in the fall of 1955. It went to #6 on the Billboard Best Selling singles chart. Veteran performer Vaughn Monroe covered the record, going to #38 on the Billboard charts, and a top-ten co-listing on Cashbox.
Written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, the song tells the story of a motorcycle rider and his long-suffering girlfriend Mary Lou. In the song she pleads with him not to ride one night: "I've got a feeling if you ride tonight I'll grieve," she tells him, but he ignores her and "hit a screamin' diesel that was California bound." Featuring a catchy tune and the chorus of "He wore black denim trousers and motorcycle boots and a black leather jacket with an eagle on the back," the song was the second big hit for the Cheers, after "Bazoom (I Need Your Lovin')." It was also the first song to chart about motorcycles and the "new" motorcyclists, earning it the reputation as the first biker song. In 1956, French chanteuse Edith Piaf recorded a French translation of the song entitled "L' Homme à la Moto," which became one of her biggest selling singles. This song was also recorded by Canadian group The Diamonds, who did it for the Coral Records label; the Diamonds achieved fame a couple years later with the Rock and Roll classic "Little Darlin'." In 1994, Chris Spedding recorded a new version of the song. It has also been recorded by Joan Morris and William Bolcom and has become a staple of their concert repertoire. The song was also recorded by a band called Chainsaw Sprocket Knucklehead and Tank from Mullumbimby Australia. The song did very well for the band and received a lot of airplay and attention in other countries.
In 1959, Dodie Stevens became famous with her parody of "Black Denim Trousers," "Pink Shoe Laces."
References and further reading
- Stan Cuesta. L'homme à la Moto: Le Chef-d'Œuvre d'Edith Piaf. (Paris: Scali, 2007).
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