That's All Right

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"That's All Right"
Single by Elvis Presley
B-side "Blue Moon of Kentucky"
Released July 19, 1954
Format 7" single
Recorded July 5, 1954
Genre Rockabilly
Length 1:57
Label Sun (original)
RCA Victor (reissue)
Writer(s) Arthur Crudup
Producer(s) Sam Phillips
Elvis Presley singles chronology
"That's All Right"
(1954)
"Good Rockin' Tonight"
(1955)
Music sample

"That's All Right" is the name of the first commercial single released by Elvis Presley, written and originally performed by blues singer Arthur Crudup. Presley's version was recorded on July 5, 1954,[1] and released on July 19, 1954 with "Blue Moon of Kentucky" as the B-side. It is #113 on the 2010 Rolling Stone magazine list of the "500 Greatest Songs of All Time".[2]

History[edit]

The song was written by Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup, and originally recorded by him in Chicago on September 6, 1946, as "That's All Right". Some of the lyrics are traditional blues verses first recorded by Blind Lemon Jefferson in 1926.[3] Crudup's recording was released as a single on RCA Victor 20-2205, but was less successful than some of his previous recordings. At the same session, he recorded a virtually identical tune with different lyrics, "I Don't Know It", which was also released as a single (RCA Victor 20-2307). In early March 1949, the song was rereleased under the title, "That's All Right, Mama" (RCA Victor 50-0000), which was issued as RCA's first rhythm and blues record on their new 45 rpm single format,[4][5] on bright orange vinyl.[6]

Elvis Presley's version was recorded in July 1954, and released with "Blue Moon of Kentucky" as the B-side.[7] Its catalogue number was Sun 209.[8] The label reads "That's All Right" (omitting "Mama" from the original title), and names the performers as Elvis Presley, Scotty and Bill.[9] Arthur Crudup was credited as the composer on the label of Presley's single, but Crudup had to wait until the 1960s when he received an estimated $60,000 in back royalties.[10] Crudup used lines in his song that had been present in earlier blues recordings, including Blind Lemon Jefferson's 1926 song That Black Snake Moan".[10]

A country music version by Marty Robbins peaked at number 7 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart in 1955.[11]

Presley's recording[edit]

During an uneventful recording session at Sun Studios on the evening of July 5, 1954, Presley, Moore, and Black were taking a break between recordings when Presley started fooling around with an up-tempo version of Arthur Crudup's song "That's All Right, Mama".[5] Black began joining in on his upright bass, and soon they were joined by Moore on guitar.[5] Producer Sam Phillips, taken aback by this sudden upbeat atmosphere, asked the three of them to start again so he could record it.[5]

Black's bass and guitars from Presley and Moore provided the instrumentation. The recording contains no drums or additional instruments. The song was produced in the style of a "live" recording (all parts performed at once and recorded on a single track).[12] The following evening the trio recorded "Blue Moon of Kentucky" in a similar style, and it was selected as the B-side to "That's All Right".[5]

The recording session was Presley's fifth visit to the Sun Studio.[13] His first two visits, the summer of 1953 and January 1954, had been private recordings, followed by two more visits in the summer of 1954.[13]

Upon finishing the recording session, according to Scotty Moore, Bill Black remarked, "Damn. Get that on the radio and they'll run us out of town."

Release[edit]

1954 Sun 45 release, Sun 209, by Elvis Presley, Scotty and Bill.

Sam Phillips gave copies of the record to local disc jockeys Dewey Phillips[14] (no relation) of WHBQ, Uncle Richard of WMPS, and Sleepy Eyed John Lepley of WHHM.[5] On July 7, 1954, Dewey Phillips played "That's All Right" on his popular radio show "Red, Hot & Blue".[5] On hearing the news that Dewey was going to play his record, Presley went to the local movie theater to calm his nerves.[5]

Interest in the record was so intense that Dewey reportedly played the record 14 times and received over 40 telephone calls.[5] Presley was persuaded to go to the station for an on-air interview that night.[5] Unaware that the microphone was live at the time, Presley answered Dewey's questions, including one about which high school he attended: a roundabout way of informing the audience of Presley's race without actually asking the question.[5]

"That's All Right" was officially released on July 19, 1954,[5] and sold around 20,000 copies.[5] This number was not enough to chart nationally, but the single reached number four on the local Memphis charts.[5]

Importance in music history[edit]

Rolling Stone magazine argued in a 2004 article that Presley's recording of "That's All Right" was the first rock-and-roll record.[15]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Elvis Presley records "That’s All Right (Mama)"". History.com. Retrieved July 6, 2010. 
  2. ^ "The Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Songs of All Time" Rolling Stone magazine, #963, December 9, 2004. on scribd.com. Accessed March 31, 2011.
  3. ^ Francis Davis, The History of the Blues: The Roots, the Music, the People, p,122
  4. ^ What Was The First Rock'n'Roll Record. Faber and Faber. 1992. p. 201. ISBN 0-571-12939-0. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Elvis: His Life from A to Z. Outlet. 1992. p. 479. ISBN 978-0-517-06634-8. 
  6. ^ Dawson, Jim, and Steve Propes, What Was The First Rock 'n' Roll Record ? (Faber and Faber, 1992), ISBN 0-571-12939-0
  7. ^ Sun Records Discography.
  8. ^ The Elvis Presley Sun collection.
  9. ^ Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup discography webpage shows 1954 Sun labels. Accessed March 31, 2011.
  10. ^ a b Gray, Michael (2006), The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia p. 165.
  11. ^ "Marty Robbins Billboard Singles". Allmusic. Retrieved August 24, 2011. 
  12. ^ "SAM PHILLIPS - SUN STUDIOS MEMPHIS - The Father of Rock n Roll". www.elvispresleynews.com. Retrieved July 22, 2010. 
  13. ^ a b "Elvis Presley Recordings". The 1950s. www.elvisrecordings.com. Retrieved December 6, 2010. 
  14. ^ Gilliland, John (1969). "Show 7 - The All American Boy: Enter Elvis and the rock-a-billies. [Part 1]" (audio). Pop Chronicles. Digital.library.unt.edu. 
  15. ^ Cave, Damien, Matt Diehl, Gavin Edwards, Jenny Eliscu, David Fricke, Lauren Gitlin, Matt Hendrickson, Kirk Miller, Austin Scaggs, and Rob Sheffield. "Truck Driver Invents Rock". Rolling Stone, no. 951 (June 24, 2004): 84-85.

External links[edit]