Black Velvet (song)
|Single by Alannah Myles|
|from the album Alannah Myles|
|B-side||"If You Want To"|
|Released||July 26, 1989 (Canada)|
December 17, 1989 (U.S.)
February 26, 1990 (UK)
January 15, 1990 (Australia)
|Recorded||October 18, 1988|
|Alannah Myles singles chronology|
"Black Velvet" is a song written by Canadian songwriters Christopher Ward and David Tyson, recorded by Canadian singer songwriter Alannah Myles. It was released in December 1989 as one of four singles from Myles' 1989 eponymous album from Atlantic Records. It became a number-one hit for two weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 charts in 1990 and reached number one on the Album Rock Tracks chart, as well as number ten in her native Canada and number two on the UK Singles Chart. The song also reached number one in Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland and was a major success in several other countries. It contains blues verses with a rock chorus.
Myles won the 1991 Grammy for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance for the song and the 1990 Juno Award for Single of the Year. Since its release, the power ballad has received substantial airplay, receiving a "Millionaire Award" from ASCAP in 2005 for more than four million radio plays.
Background and writing
The song is a paean to Elvis Presley — whose portrait was often painted on black velvet, and who used a hair dye named Black Velvet. Co-writer Christopher Ward, who was Myles' then-boyfriend, was inspired on a bus full of Elvis fans riding to Memphis attending the 10th anniversary vigil at Graceland, in 1987. Upon his return to Canada, he brought his idea to Alannah and producer David Tyson, who wrote the chords for the bridge. The song was one of three in a demo Myles presented to Atlantic Records, which eventually got her signed to the label.
Atlantic Records, much to the disappointment of Myles for whom the song had been written, gave the song to country artist Robin Lee to record. In the United States, Myles' version was released in December 1989, while Lee's version was released two months later in February 1990. This led to Myles being promoted by Atlantic on the pop and rock radio stations, and Lee on the country radio stations. Lee even filmed a videoclip of the song very similar to Myles' video.
Myles released a new version of the song on a digitally released Elvis tribute EP to commemorate the 30 years since his death in August 2007. It was later included on her 2008 Black Velvet CD.
The music video, directed by Doug Freel, was partially shot on Myles' family ranch in Buckhorn, Ontario. Myles is seen singing on a cabin porch with her guitarist, intercut with scenes from Myles in concert with her band. The concert scene was filmed in Kingston Ontario in a bar called Stages.
Release and reception
As the second single of Myles' debut album, it was first released in her native Canada in July 1989. It peaked at number 10 in September of that year, becoming the first of four top-ten hits for Myles in her homeland. Worldwide, it was released as Myles' debut single. It was released in the United States in December 1989 and worldwide in early 1990, becoming a top-ten hit in most countries where it was released. It peaked at number one in four countries: Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States and received Gold and Platinum discs in several countries.
Charts and sales
|Single by Robin Lee|
|from the album Black Velvet|
|Length||4:43 (album version)|
|Songwriter(s)||David Tyson, Christopher Ward|
|Robin Lee singles chronology|
Country music artist Robin Lee, also signed to Atlantic at the time, covered "Black Velvet" in 1990 on her third studio album, also titled Black Velvet. Lee's version peaked at No. 12 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks (now Hot Country Songs) chart.
"Black Velvet" has also been recorded by Valentina Gautier (as "Hey tu" Italian), Gee Gee & Soluna featuring Soluna Samay, Bert Heerink (as "Rocksterren" Dutch), Vicky Rosti (as "Yön helmaan" Finnish), Jackie Thomas, and Sandi Thom.
"Black Velvet" was also roughed up and recorded by Canadian Rock artist Kami and released on her single "Death Toll Rising" on January 2013. And also by the group The Lost Fingers "Lost in the 80s" 2008.
Chart performance/ Robin Lee version
|Canada Country Tracks (RPM)||21|
|US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)||12|
In popular culture
- The song is featured in the enhanced versions of the 2013 game Grand Theft Auto V on the in-game radio station, Los Santos Rock Radio.
- A 2019 Australian television advertisement for Škoda, features a cover of the song.
- List of Billboard Hot 100 number-one singles of 1990
- List of European number-one airplay songs of the 1990s
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- "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Alannah Myles; 'Black Velvet')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie.
- "Guld- och Platinacertifikat − År 1987−1998" (PDF) (in Swedish). IFPI Sweden.
- "British single certifications – Alannah Myles – Black Velvet". British Phonographic Industry. Select singles in the Format field. Select Silver in the Certification field. Type Black Velvet in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
- "American single certifications – Alannah Myles – Black Velvet". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH.
- Black Velvet (CD liner notes). Robin Lee. Atlantic Records. 1990. 82085-2.CS1 maint: others (link)
- Anke - Tribute to the Great Female Vocalists Retrieved 10 January 2014
- OBRA AND THE LOTUS Premiere Sexy "Black Velvet" Video[permanent dead link]
- "Top RPM Country Tracks: Issue 1249." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. June 2, 1990. Retrieved August 23, 2013.