Teardrops from My Eyes

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"Teardrops from My Eyes", written by Rudy Toombs, was the first upbeat major hit for Ruth Brown, establishing her as an important figure in rhythm and blues. Recorded for Atlantic Records in New York City in September 1950, and released in October, it was on BillBoard's List of number-one R&B hits for eleven non-consecutive weeks. It was Atlantic's first release on the new 45-rpm record format. The huge hit earned her the nickname "Miss Rhythm" and within a few months Ruth Brown became the acknowledged queen of R&B. "Teardrops from My Eyes" was her first of five number one R&B hits.[1]

Story behind the hit[edit]

Before this hit single, Ruth Brown was thought of strictly as a torch singer. When Ruby Toombs showed her the song she was initially reluctant to do it as it was so rhymatically different from the popular standards and ballads she was comfortable singing. The change of tempo, the backbeat of four/four, at first led her to dig in her heels. But Ahmet Ertegün, sensing the time was right, urged her to give the song a try and so she went along with his choice of tunes for her.[2] The song featured a tenor solo by Budd Johnson.[3]

Atlantic used a process that it would repeat over the years, that is, turning an uptown singer funky. As with Ruth Brown, Ahmet Ertegün's method was to introduce popular black musical artists to older and more powerful black musical modes.[2]

Important cover versions[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Jim Dawson, & Steve Propes (1992). What Was the First Rock'n'Roll Record. Boston & London: Faber & Faber. pp. 76–79. ISBN 978-0-571-12939-3. 
  2. ^ a b Shaw, Arnold (1978). Honkers and Shouters. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company. pp. 398–409. ISBN 978-0-02-061740-2. 
  3. ^ Gillett, Charlie (1996). The Sound of the City: The Rise of Rock and Roll ((2nd Ed.) ed.). New York, N.Y.: Da Capo Press. p. 130. ISBN 978-0-306-80683-4. 
Preceded by
"Please Send Me Someone to Love" by Percy Mayfield and Orchestra
Billboard Best Selling Retail Rhythm & Blues Records number-one single
December 9, 1950
January 12, 1951
Succeeded by
"Bad, Bad Whiskey" by Amos Milburn and His Aladdin Chickenshackers
"Black Night" by Charles Brown and His Band