|Single by Tommy Tucker|
|B-side||"Don't Want 'Cha (Watcha Gonna Do)"|
|Songwriter(s)||Robert Higginbotham a.k.a. Tommy Tucker|
|Tommy Tucker singles chronology|
"Hi-Heel Sneakers" (often also spelled "High Heel Sneakers") is a blues song written and recorded by Tommy Tucker in 1963. Blues writer Mary Katherine Aldin describes it as an uptempo twelve-bar blues, with "a spare, lilting musical framework", and a strong vocal. The song's rhythmic approach has also been compared to that of Jimmy Reed. Tucker's lyrics recall the time he spent as a Golden Gloves boxer in the 1950s:
Put on your red dress baby
Lord we're goin' out tonight (2×)
And wear some boxin' gloves
In case some fool might wanna fight
Background and recording
The song came out of Tucker's association with producer Herb Abramson, who was a co-founder of Atlantic Records. Abramson operated A-1 Sound Studios in New York, where many popular R&B artists recorded; he leased Tucker's recording to Checker Records, which released it as a single in 1964.
Although writers cite a 1963 recording date, there is conflicting information about the studio location. Aldrin puts it in Chicago, while the Blues Foundation locates it in New York City. The song's distinctive guitar parts are provided by Dean Young. Writing in Encyclopedia of the Blues, Gene Tomko notes the similarity to the introduction and shuffle beat of the popular Jimmy Reed song "Big Boss Man".
|UK Singles (The Official Charts Company)||23|
|US Billboard Hot 100||11|
|US Cash Box in R&B Locations||1|
In 2017, the song was inducted into the Blues Foundation Blues Hall of Fame as a "classic of blues recording". In its induction statement, the Blues Foundation noted that "Hi-Heel Sneakers" was the "last blues record from the mighty Chess Records [Checker subsidiary] catalogue to hit No. 1 on the charts" and its popularity as a performance number.
Numerous musicians have recorded "Hi-Heel Sneakers" – Aldin notes the song "has the distinction of having been recorded by such unlikely musical bedfellows as Johnny Rivers, Elvis Presley, Ramsey Lewis, Jose Feliciano, Chuck Berry, the Chambers Brothers, Jerry Lee Lewis, David Cassidy and Boots Randolph, to name but a few." Tomko explains its influence:
This now-familiar rhythmic chord progression of accenting the beat a la "Hi-Heel Sneakers" was in turn incorporated into many cover versions of "Big Boss Man," and ironically influenced how the Jimmy Reed standard is typically played today.
- Higginbotham is misspelled "Higgenbotham" on the Checker single label.
- Aldin, Mary Katherine (1989). Soul Shots Volume 4: Urban Blues (Album notes). Various artists. Rhino Records. p. 2. R2 75758.
- Dahl, Bill (1996). "Tommy Tucker". In Erlewine, Michael (ed.). All Music Guide to the Blues. San Francisco: Miller Freeman Books. p. 253. ISBN 0-87930-424-3.
- Tomko, Gene (2006). "Big Boss Man (Hi-Heel Sneakers)". In Komara, Edward (ed.). Encyclopedia of the Blues. New York City: Routledge. p. 78. ISBN 978-0-415-92699-7.
- Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942–2004. Record Research. p. 592.
- "officialcharts.com". officialcharts.com. Retrieved March 30, 2022.
- Blues Foundation (April 21, 2017). "2017 Hall of Fame Inductees: "Hi-Heel Sneakers" – Tommy Tucker (Chess, 1963)". The Blues Foundation. Retrieved March 10, 2020.