Blue on Black

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
"Blue on Black"
Single by Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band
from the album Trouble Is...
Released April 7, 1998 (1998-04-07)
Format CD single
Genre Blues rock
Length 5:30
Producer(s) Jerry Harrison
Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band singles chronology
"Somehow, Somewhere, Someway"
"Blue on Black"
"Everything Is Broken"

"Blue on Black" is a song by American blues rock band Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band. Written by Shepherd with songwriters Mark Selby and Tia Sillers, Noah Hunt provides the lead vocal. The song was originally released on their second studio album, Trouble Is... (1997). On April 7, 1998, it was released as a single and spent 42 weeks on the US Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart and rose to number one, remaining there for six non-consecutive weeks.

"Blue on Black" was regarded as the best rock song of 1998 by various media, including winning the Billboard Music Award for Rock Track of the Year and the song's popularity helped make Trouble Is... the 1999 Blues Album of the Year in Billboard. The song continues to be a top download of the Kenny Wayne Shepherd catalog, ranking at number one on Rhapsody.


In a August 2017 interview, Shepherd discussed the song's origins:

We wrote that when we were down in New Orleans – me, Mark and Tia. I had the music, and Mark and I were just rolling with the music and tried to develop things up. Tia came up with this idea based on a shirt that I was wearing that was blue and black. She noticed the two colors that were dominant on my shirt, and if you mix those two colors together, black consumes the blue. It doesn't amount to anything if you put the two together: You still have one color, instead of creating a new color.

So she built on that idea, and it became this really deep song. It's really up to the listener to determine how they apply it. So many people have applied it to a death in the family, an abusive relationship, a broken relationship, or whatever. There are so many different ways. That's what's beautiful about music and lyrics is trying to write a song that the listener can apply to their own experience in whatever way seems fit. And that's one of those songs.[1]


Shepherd discussed the song's commercial significance in an interview:

The success at rock radio that we had early in my career, with 'Blue on Black,' I think we set a record. When that song was out, it definitely helped expose my music to a wider audience, and also, by gaining that exposure, then I get to turn a lot of those people on to the blues who may not have listened to the blues otherwise.[2]

As Shepherd's signature song, "Blue on Black" often closes his concerts just prior to "Voodoo Child".[3] The Jimi Hendrix cover was also included on the "Blue on Black" CD single.

The song has been included on compilation albums such as Loaded with Hits (2000), Double Shot of Blues (2001), and Powered by Fender: The Players (2003). A live version was included on WCCC Live at Planet of Sound in 2005.[citation needed]

Awards and honors[edit]

"Blue on Black" was ranked the top rock song of 1998 by Billboard, the Album Network, and R&R.[citation needed] It also won the 1998 Billboard Music Award for Rock Track of the Year.[citation needed]

In honor of the hit single, the Martin Guitar Company issued its Kenny Wayne Shepherd Limited Edition Signature model JC-16KWS, a distinct jumbo model in dark blue, in January 2001. The guitar design was inspired by the imagery evoked in the song's lyrics.[4] Proceeds from the model were to be donated to Providence House, a Shreveport, Louisiana shelter and development program for homeless families with children.

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Blue on Black" (The Road Mix)
  2. "Blue on Black"
  3. "Voodoo Child" (non-album track)

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (1998) Peak
Billboard Hot 100[5] 78
US Mainstream Rock Tracks[6] 1

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Kenny Wayne Shepherd: Songwriter Interviews". Songfacts. Retrieved March 23, 2018. 
  2. ^ Peerless, Beth (May 21, 2009). "B.B. King, Joe Cocker, Kenny Wayne Shepard, Leon Russell top exemplary Santa Cruz Blues Festival lineup". Monterey Retrieved May 30, 2009. 
  3. ^ Landers, Rick Kenny Wayne Shepherd Interview Archived October 16, 2009, at the Wayback Machine. (December 7, 2007). Retrieved on May 30, 2009.
  4. ^ Martin Introduces Kenny Wayne Shepherd Jumbo[permanent dead link] (January 18, 2001). Retrieved on 5-30-09.
  5. ^ "Kenny Wayne Shepherd Chart History". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved May 6, 2018. 
  6. ^ "Kenny Wayne Shepherd Chart History". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved May 6, 2018. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"Without You" by Van Halen
Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks number-one single (first run)
April 18 – May 9, 1998 (3 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Most High" by Jimmy Page & Robert Plant
Preceded by
"Most High" by Jimmy Page & Robert Plant
Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks number-one single (second run)
May 23 – June 6, 1998 (2 weeks)
Succeeded by
"I Lie in the Bed I Make" by Brother Cane
Preceded by
"I Lie in the Bed I Make" by Brother Cane
Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks number-one single (third run)
July 4 – July 11, 1998 (1 week)
Succeeded by
"The Down Town" by Days of the New