Class of '55

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Class of '55
Studio album by Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins
Released 26 May 1986[1]
Recorded September 1985
Genre Rockabilly, country, rock and roll, gospel
Length 37:14
Label America/Smash (422 830 002-1)
Producer Chips Moman
Roy Orbison chronology
Laminar Flow
Class of '55
In Dreams: The Greatest Hits
Johnny Cash chronology
Believe in Him
Class of '55
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars[2]

Class of '55 is a 1986 album by rock and roll pioneers Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison and Carl Perkins.

While the album was in part a tribute to Elvis Presley, it was mainly a commemoration of those young performing hopefuls, the four album participants, as had Presley, all began their careers with Sun Records in the 1950s. Recorded at Sam Phillips' Sun Studios and completed at American Sound Studios, the album was documented by Dick Clark Productions, which filmed it from start to finish; by The Commercial Appeal, the Mid-South's largest circulation newspaper; and by Nine-O-One Network Magazine, the first edition of which was sold with the album in a telemarketing package.[3]

The final song of the session, "Big Train (from Memphis)", written by John Fogerty, includes the blended voices of John Fogerty, The Judds, Dave Edmunds, Ricky Nelson, Sam Phillips, and June Carter Cash. Fogerty told a reporter that he was thinking about the old Sun Records sound when he wrote the song.[4] The extended finale of the song features the singers singing lines from various Sun Records songs, including "That's All Right Mama", "Blue Suede Shoes," "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On", "Folsom Prison Blues" and others.

Producer Chips Moman encountered a major issue following the recording sessions, as Cash was still under contract to Columbia Records at the time and proper permissions had not been obtained. Faced with the possibility of having to remove Cash's voice from the recordings, Moman paid Columbia $100,000 for the rights to keep Cash on the record.[5] At this time, the America/Smash label was affiliated with PolyGram, which in turn also owned Mercury Records to which Cash would sign shortly after recording Class of '55.

The recorded "Interviews from the Class of '55 Recording Sessions" earned the 1987 Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album for the four performers plus for producer Chips Moman, Sam Phillips and Ricky Nelson. For Nelson, it was his last recording session and only Grammy Award of his career.

Cash, Lewis and Perkins had previously collaborated in 1956 with the Million Dollar Quartet and in 1982 with The Survivors Live.

Dick Clark hosted a TV special with footage of the studio sessions aired on TBS in 1989.[6]

Track listing[edit]

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Artist(s) Length
1. "Birth of Rock and Roll" Carl Perkins, Greg Perkins Carl Perkins 4:21
2. "Sixteen Candles" Luther Dixon, Allyson Khent Jerry Lee Lewis 3:48
3. "Class of '55" Chips Moman, Bobby Emmons Carl Perkins 2:56
4. "Waymore's Blues" Waylon Jennings, Curtis Buck Perkins, Lewis, Orbison & Cash 2:25
5. "We Remember the King" Paul Kennerly Johnny Cash 2:58
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Artist(s) Length
1. "Coming Home" Roy Orbison, Will Jennings, J.D. Souther Roy Orbison 3:59
2. "Rock and Roll (Fais-Do-Do)" Michael Smotherman Perkins, Lewis, Orbison & Cash 3:17
3. "Keep My Motor Running" Randy Bachman Jerry Lee Lewis 2:52
4. "I Will Rock and Roll with You" Johnny Cash Johnny Cash 2:01
5. "Big Train (from Memphis)" John Fogerty Perkins, Lewis, Orbison & Cash 7:56


Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1986) Peak
U.S. Billboard Top Country Albums 15


  1. ^ Hurst, Jack. "'Class of '55' Reunion to Revive 'Smash' Label". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 30 June 2012. 
  2. ^ Allmusic review
  3. ^ Dickerson, James L.(1996) “Goin’ Back to Memphis: A Century of Blues, Rock ‘n’ Roll, and Glorious Soul,” Schirmer/Simon & Schuster ISBN 0-02-864506-5
  4. ^ Dickerson, Jim (1986) "The Sun Session: Together Again in Memphis," Nine-O-One Network Magazine
  5. ^ Robert Hilburn, Johnny Cash: The Life. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2013, p.506
  6. ^