Jailhouse Rock (song)

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"Jailhouse Rock"
Elvis Presley Jailhouse Rock Single Cover.jpeg
Single by Elvis Presley
from the EP Jailhouse Rock
B-side"Treat Me Nice"
ReleasedSeptember 24, 1957 (1957-09-24)
RecordedApril 30, 1957
StudioRadio Recorders, Hollywood, California
LabelRCA Victor
Songwriter(s)Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller
Producer(s)Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller
Elvis Presley singles chronology
"(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear" / "Loving You"
"Jailhouse Rock"
Music video
"Jailhouse Rock" (audio) on YouTube
Audio sample
Jailhouse Rock

"Jailhouse Rock" is a song recorded by American singer Elvis Presley for the film of the same name. It was written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. RCA Victor released the song on a 45 rpm single on September 24, 1957, as the first single from the film's soundtrack EP. It reached the top of the charts in the U.S. and the top 10 in several other countries. The song has been recognized by the Grammy Hall of Fame, the American Film Institute, and others.

Characters and themes[edit]

Some of the characters named in the song are real people. Shifty Henry was a well-known Los Angeles musician, not a criminal. The Purple Gang was a real mob. "Sad Sack" was a U.S. Army nickname in World War II for a loser, which was also the name of a popular comic strip and comic book character.[1]

According to Rolling Stone, Leiber and Stoller's "theme song for Presley's third movie was decidedly silly, the kind of tongue-in-cheek goof they had come up with for The Coasters. The King, however, sang it as straight rock & roll, overlooking the jokes in the lyrics (like the suggestion of gay romance when inmate Number 47 tells Number 3, 'You're the cutest jailbird I ever did see') and then introducing Scotty Moore's guitar solo with a cry so intense that the take almost collapses."[2] Gender studies scholars cite the song for "its famous reference to homoerotics behind bars,"[3] while music critic Garry Mulholland writes, "'Jailhouse Rock' was always a queer lyric, in both senses."[4] Douglas Brode writes of the filmed production number that it's "amazing that the sequence passed by the censors".[5]

Releases and chart performance[edit]

The single, with its B-side "Treat Me Nice" (another song from the film's soundtrack) was a US number one hit for seven weeks in the fall of 1957, and a UK number one hit for three weeks early in 1958.[6] In addition, "Jailhouse Rock" spent one week at the top of the US country charts,[7] and reached the number one position on the R&B chart.[8]

Also in 1957, "Jailhouse Rock" was the lead song in an EP (extended play single), together with other songs from the film, namely "Young and Beautiful", "I Want to Be Free", "Don't Leave Me Now" and "(You're So Square) Baby I Don't Care" (but with "Treat Me Nice" omitted). It topped the Billboard EP charts, eventually selling two million copies and earning a double-platinum RIAA certification.[citation needed]


Credits sourced from AFM union contracts and label records.[9]


Rolling Stone magazine included "Jailhouse Rock" at number 67 on its list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time[10] and it was named one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. In 2004, it finished at number 21 on AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs survey of top tunes in American cinema. On November 27, 2016, the Grammy Hall of Fame announced its induction, along with that of another 24 songs.[11] In 2019, the song ranked number 31 on Spanish radio station Rock FM 500's list of "Five Hundred Rockers of All Time", ahead of any other song of the 1950s.[citation needed] Glam metal band Mötley Crüe covered the song for their fourth studio album Girls, Girls, Girls.

Charts and certifications[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "A Short History of 'Retcon'". Merriam-webster.com. Retrieved November 24, 2019.
  2. ^ "Jailhouse Rock". In Rolling Stone, December 9, 2004.
  3. ^ Philip Brett, Elizabeth Wood and Gary Thomas, Queering the Pitch: The New Gay and Lesbian Musicology (Routledge, 2006), p. 363.
  4. ^ Garry Mulholland, Popcorn: Fifty Years of Rock'n'Roll Movies (Orion Books, 2010).
  5. ^ Douglas Brode, Elvis Cinema and Popular Culture (McFarland & Co., 2006), p. 46.
  6. ^ Rice, Jo (1982). The Guinness Book of 500 Number One Hits (1st ed.). Enfield, Middlesex: Guinness Superlatives Ltd. p. 34. ISBN 0-85112-250-7.
  7. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Country Hits: 1944–2006, Second edition. Record Research. p. 272.
  8. ^ Billboard December 16, 1957. page 61
  9. ^ "Elvis Presley Recording Sessions". keithflynn.com. Retrieved August 30, 2021.
  10. ^ "The RS 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". Rollingstone.com. December 11, 2003. Retrieved June 2, 2007.
  11. ^ Kreps, Daniel (November 29, 2016). "Nirvana, Bowie, R.E.M. Songs Among Grammy Hall of Fame's 2017 Inductees". Rollingstone.com. Retrieved April 27, 2021.
  12. ^ a b Kent, David (2005). Australian Chart Book: 1940–1969: the Hit Songs and Records from Thirty Years of Specially Compiled Charts. Australian Chart Book Limited. ISBN 9780646444390. Retrieved March 3, 2013.
  13. ^ "Elvis Presley – Jailhouse Rock" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved March 3, 2013.
  14. ^ "Elvis Presley: Jailhouse Rock" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat. Retrieved March 3, 2013.
  15. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved March 3, 2016.
  16. ^ a b c "Elvis Presley – Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved March 3, 2013.
  17. ^ a b c d e Joel Whitburn's top pop singles 1955–2006. Record Research. January 8, 2008. ISBN 9780898201727. Retrieved March 3, 2013.
  18. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved March 3, 2016.
  19. ^ "Elvis Presley – Jailhouse Rock" (in French). Ultratop 50. Retrieved March 3, 2013.
  20. ^ a b "Elvis Presley – Jailhouse Rock" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved March 3, 2013.
  21. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved March 3, 2013.
  22. ^ "Chart Track: Week 1, 2005". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved March 3, 2013.
  23. ^ "Elvis Presley – Jailhouse Rock" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved March 3, 2013.
  24. ^ "Elvis Presley – Jailhouse Rock". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved March 3, 2013.
  25. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved July 8, 2018.
  26. ^ "Elvis Presley – Jailhouse Rock". Singles Top 100. Retrieved March 3, 2013.
  27. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved March 3, 2013.
  28. ^ "Billboard Top 50 – 1957". Billboard. Longbored Surfer. 1957. Archived from the original on June 23, 2013. Retrieved March 3, 2013.
  29. ^ "The CASH BOX Year-End Charts: 1957". Cash Box Magazine. 1957. Retrieved March 3, 2013.
  30. ^ "Top 20 Hit Singles of 1958". Rock.co.za. Retrieved December 26, 2018.
  31. ^ "The Official UK Singles Chart 2005" (PDF). UKChartsPlus. Retrieved July 8, 2018.
  32. ^ Copsey, Rob (August 16, 2017). "Elvis Presley's Top 50 biggest selling songs revealed". Official Charts Company. Retrieved August 16, 2017.
  33. ^ "British single certifications – Elvis Presley – Jailhouse Rock". British Phonographic Industry.
  34. ^ "American single certifications – Elvis Presley – Jailhouse Rock". Recording Industry Association of America.