Guitar Boogie (song)

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"Guitar Boogie"
Single by Arthur "Guitar Boogie" Smith
B-side "Beaty Steel Blues"
Released Prior to January 5, 1946 (1946-01-05)[1]
Format 10" 78 rpm record
Recorded Prior to September 15, 1945[2]
Genre Hillbilly boogie
Length 3:22
Label Super Disc (no. 1004A)
Writer(s) Arthur Smith
Arthur "Guitar Boogie" Smith singles chronology
"Careless Hands"/ "Lady of Spain"
(1948)
"Guitar Boogie"
(1948)
"12th Street Rag"/ "Once upon a Time"
(1948)

"Guitar Boogie" is a guitar instrumental recorded by Arthur "Guitar Boogie" Smith in 1945. It was one of the first recordings in the style later dubbed "hillbilly boogie" to reach a widespread audience, and eventually sold nearly three million copies.[3] It was the first guitar instrumental to climb the Country music charts, and then crossover and also gain high rankings on Pop charts.[4] "Guitar Boogie" has been interpreted and recorded by a variety of musicians. It is among the songs discussed as the first rock and roll record.[3]

Original song[edit]

"Guitar Boogie" is an uptempo twelve-bar boogie-style instrumental and is patterned after older boogie-woogie piano pieces.[5] Smith performs the piano parts on guitar, alternating between boogie rhythmic patterns and soloing. Originally a jazz musician, Smith explained, "I guess I picked that [boogie-woogie] from Tommy Dorsey's 'Boogie Woogie', 'cause I didn't listen to country or blues, I listened to big band in those days".[6]

Smith first recorded "Guitar Boogie" in 1945 with the Tennessee Ramblers, with Don Reno on rhythm guitar and Roy Lear on bass. There has been conflicting information on the type of guitar Smith used for the recording; several sources identify it as an acoustic guitar[7][8][9] and others as an electric guitar.[10][11][12] The piece was released under the name "The Rambler Trio featuring Arthur Smith" by the independent Super Disc Records label. Regionally "Guitar Boogie" did well, due in part to Smith's appearances on popular radio programs, such as Charlotte, North Carolina WBT's "Carolina Hayride".

In October 1948, MGM Records (which had purchased Super Disc and Smith's contract) re-released the instrumental under the name "Arthur (Guitar Boogie) Smith and His Cracker-Jacks".[13] By 1949, "Guitar Boogie" reached number 8 during a stay of seven weeks in the Country chart and number 25 in the Pop chart,[14] making it "the first guitar instrumental to climb the Country charts [then] crossover, and climb the Pop Charts".[4] As an early popular example of hillbilly boogie, it is a link between 1940s Western swing and honky-tonk and 1950s rockabilly.[6]

Guitar Boogie Shuffle[edit]

In the 1950s, rock and roll versions of "Guitar Boogie", usually titled "Guitar Boogie Shuffle" (but credited to Arthur Smith), were recorded. These renditions had "new accents and a beat that took it out of country boogie and Western swing".[15] In 1953, a version by the Super-Sonics was titled "New Guitar Boogie Shuffle" (Rainbow R–4097) and another by the Esquire Boys with Danny Cedrone on guitar was titled "Guitar Boogie Shuffle" (Nickelodeon 102–A). In 1958, a Philadelphia band, Frank Virtue and the Virtues, recorded it as "Guitar Boogie Shuffle" (Hunt 324). In 1959, the Virtues' single reached number five in the Billboard Hot 100 pop chart and number 27 in the Billboard R&B chart and "became one of the most popular and influential instrumentals of its era".[15] Also in 1959, a version of "Guitar Boogie Shuffle" by Bert Weedon backed with "Bert's Boogie" (Top Rank JAR 117) reached number ten in the UK charts.[16]

Other versions[edit]

Numerous guitarists have interpreted and recorded "Guitar Boogie". Early versions of the song include those by the Les Paul Trio (1947 Decca 29013) and Alvino Rey (1946 Capitol 318 & 1948 Capitol 15223). In 1958, a different "Guitar Boogie", with more chording, was included on Chuck Berry's second album One Dozen Berrys (Jeff Beck later based his "Jeff's Boogie" on Berry's version). Freddie King's 1960 blues guitar instrumental "Hide Away" incorporates elements from various songs, including sections similar to those in "Guitar Boogie". Later renditions of "Guitar Boogie" include live versions by Tommy Emmanuel and Tom Petty.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Guitar Boogie" first appeared in the "Record Review" section of Billboard January 5, 1946.
  2. ^ "Guitar Boogie" was included in an "Advance Record Releases" section of Billboard September 15, 1945, that generally precedes the actual releases about two weeks.
  3. ^ a b Harris, Craig. "Arthur "Guitar Boogie" Smith — Biography". Allmusic. Rovi Corp. Retrieved August 31, 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Smith, Clay (2013). "Arthur Smith — Living Legend". Exhibit, The North Carolina Visitor Center. The High Cotton Company. Retrieved August 31, 2013. 
  5. ^ In 1929 Blind Roosevelt Graves recorded a "Guitar Boogie" (Paramount 12820-A), which was patterned after Pine Top Smith's 1928 "Pine Top's Boogie" (Vocalion 1245).
  6. ^ a b Birnbaum, Larry (2012). Before Elvis: The Prehistory of Rock 'n' Roll. Scarecrow Press. p. 222. ISBN 978-0-8108-8629-2. 
  7. ^ Samuelson, Dave (2004). Kingsbury, Paul, ed. The Encyclopedia of Country Music: The Ultimate Guide to the Music. Oxford University Press, USA. p. 489. ISBN 978-0-19-517608-7. 
  8. ^ Malone, Bill C. (2002). Country Music, U.S.A. University of Texas Press. p. 203. ISBN 978-0-292-75262-7. 
  9. ^ Manus, Ron; Manus, Morton (1994). The Complete Acoustic Guitarist. Alfred Music Publishing. p. 91. 
  10. ^ Carlin, Bob (2004). String Bands in the North Carolina Piedmont. McFarland. p. 179. 
  11. ^ Ingram, Adrian (2010). A Concise History of the Electric Guitar. Mel Bay Publications. p. 23. 
  12. ^ Harrington, Joe S. (2002). Sonic Cool: The Life & Death of Rock 'n' Roll. Hal Leonard. p. 34. ISBN 978-0-634-02861-8. 
  13. ^ Although Craig Smith has written that "Guitar Boogie" was re-recorded for MGM, most sources, including Birnbaum, Dawson and Propes, McNeil, and Billboard, indicate that the 1945 recording was re-released by MGM in 1948.
  14. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2006). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Country Hits. Billboard Books. p. 317. ISBN 978-0-8230-8291-9. 
  15. ^ a b Eder, Bruce. "The Virtues — Biography". Allmusic. Rovi Corp. Retrieved August 31, 2013. 
  16. ^ "Discography". The Official Bert Weedon Website. Retrieved August 31, 2013.