Black Velvet (song)

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"Black Velvet"
Alannah Myles Black Velvet Cover.jpg
Single by Alannah Myles
from the album Alannah Myles
B-side"If You Want To"
ReleasedJuly 26, 1989 (Canada)
December 17, 1989 (U.S.)
February 26, 1990 (UK)
January 15, 1990 (Australia)
RecordedOctober 18, 1988
GenreCountry rock[1]
Producer(s)David Tyson
Alannah Myles singles chronology
"Love Is"
"Black Velvet"
"Still Got This Thing"

"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[2] has received substantial airplay, receiving a "Millionaire Award" from ASCAP in 2005 for more than four million radio plays.[3]

Background and writing[edit]

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 song is performed in the key of D minor, with a swinging tempo of 91 beats per minute in 12
time. Myles' vocals span from C4 to D6 in the song.[4]

Music video[edit]

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[edit]

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.

Track listings[edit]

Charts and sales[edit]

Other versions[edit]

"Black Velvet"
Single by Robin Lee
from the album Black Velvet
ReleasedFebruary 1990
FormatCD single
Length4:43 (album version)
Songwriter(s)David Tyson, Christopher Ward
Producer(s)Nelson Larkin[37]
Robin Lee singles chronology
"Before You Cheat on Me Once"
"Black Velvet"
"How About Goodbye"

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.

Idols South Africa winner Anke Pietrangeli covered the song on her album Tribute to the Great Female Vocalists in 2009.[38]

"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.

In 2015, Canadian heavy metal band Kobra and the Lotus recorded the song for their first EP entitled Words of the Prophets.[39]

Chart performance/ Robin Lee version[edit]

Chart (1989–1990) Peak
Canada Country Tracks (RPM)[40] 21
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard) 12

In popular culture[edit]

  • 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.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Friedman, Nathaniel (April 26, 2018). "U.S. Girls Isn't Selling Out—She's Just Writing Bops". GQ. Retrieved October 17, 2019.
  2. ^ "Bonnie Tyler's Total Eclipse of the Heart and the 20 other best power ballads". The Telegraph. August 18, 2017. Retrieved July 4, 2018.
  3. ^ "Alannah Myles – About". Archived from the original on July 17, 2012. Retrieved July 17, 2012.
  4. ^ Tyson, David. "Alannah Myles "Black Velvet" Guitar Tab in E Minor - Download & Print". Retrieved December 2, 2016.
  5. ^ " – Alannah Myles – Black Velvet". ARIA Top 50 Singles.
  6. ^ " – Alannah Myles – Black Velvet" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40.
  7. ^ " – Alannah Myles – Black Velvet" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  8. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 6564." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved January 22, 2019.
  9. ^ " – Alannah Myles – Black Velvet". Tracklisten.
  10. ^ " – Alannah Myles – Black Velvet" (in French). Les classement single.
  11. ^ " – Alannah Myles – Black Velvet". GfK Entertainment Charts.
  12. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Black Velvet". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved January 22, 2019.
  13. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – week 20, 1990" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40
  14. ^ " – Alannah Myles – Black Velvet" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  15. ^ " – Alannah Myles – Black Velvet". Top 40 Singles.
  16. ^ " – Alannah Myles – Black Velvet". VG-lista.
  17. ^ "Listy bestsellerów, wyróżnienia :: Związek Producentów Audio-Video". Polish Airplay Top 100. Retrieved 23 November 2015.
  18. ^ " – Alannah Myles – Black Velvet". Singles Top 100.
  19. ^ " – Alannah Myles – Black Velvet". Swiss Singles Chart.
  20. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  21. ^ "Alannah Myles Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  22. ^ "Alannah Myles Chart History (Adult Contemporary)". Billboard.
  23. ^ "Mainstream Rock: Feb 17, 1990". Billboard. Retrieved December 16, 2013.
  24. ^ "Top 40/Rock: March 17, 1990" (PDF). Billboard. Retrieved January 16, 2017.
  25. ^ a b "1990 ARIA Singles Chart". ARIA. Retrieved September 1, 2017.
  26. ^ 1990 Austrian Singles Chart Archived December 17, 2013, at the Wayback Machine (Retrieved July 29, 2008)
  27. ^ 1989 Canadian Singles Chart [1] (Retrieved February 6, 2016)
  28. ^ "Single top 100 over 1990" (pdf) (in Dutch). Top40. Retrieved April 12, 2010.
  29. ^ "End of Year Charts 1990". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved December 3, 2017.
  30. ^ 1990 Swiss Singles Chart Archived February 1, 2014, at the Wayback Machine (Retrieved July 29, 2008)
  31. ^ "Billboard Top 100 – 1990". Archived from the original on January 17, 2010. Retrieved 2009-09-15.
  32. ^ "Austrian single certifications – Alannah Myles – Black Velvet" (in German). IFPI Austria.
  33. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Alannah Myles; 'Black Velvet')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie.
  34. ^ "Guld- och Platinacertifikat − År 1987−1998" (PDF) (in Swedish). IFPI Sweden.
  35. ^ "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.
  36. ^ "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. 
  37. ^ Black Velvet (CD liner notes). Robin Lee. Atlantic Records. 1990. 82085-2.CS1 maint: others (link)
  38. ^ Anke - Tribute to the Great Female Vocalists Retrieved 10 January 2014
  39. ^ OBRA AND THE LOTUS Premiere Sexy "Black Velvet" Video[permanent dead link]
  40. ^ "Top RPM Country Tracks: Issue 1249." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. June 2, 1990. Retrieved August 23, 2013.

External links[edit]