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Jailhouse Rock (song)

"Jailhouse Rock" is a song written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller that first became a hit for Elvis Presley. RCA Victor released the song on a 45 rpm single on September 24, 1957, the song had a film release of Presley's motion picture under the same name, Jailhouse Rock.

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

Rolling Stone Magazine included it at number 67 on its list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time[2] and 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.[3] In 2019, it ranked #31 in the list of Spain's most heard radio station. Rock FM 500's five hundred rockers of all time, as well as ahead as any other song of the 1950'as.

Presley's performance of the song in the film, choreographed as a dance routine involving himself and a large group of male prisoners, was featured among other classic MGM musical numbers in the 1994 documentary That's Entertainment! III. The film version differs from the single version of the song, featuring backing instrumentation and vocals not heard on the record.

Characters and themesEdit

Some of the characters named in the song are real people. Shifty Henry was a well-known LA 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.[4]

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."[5] Gender studies scholars cite the song for "its famous reference to homoerotics behind bars,"[6] while music critic Garry Mulholland writes, "'Jailhouse Rock' was always a queer lyric, in both senses."[7] Douglas Brode writes of the filmed production number that it's "amazing that the sequence passed by the censors".[8]

Releases and chart performanceEdit

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. It was the first record to enter the UK charts at number one.[9] In addition, "Jailhouse Rock" spent one week at the top of the US country charts,[10] and reached the number one position on the R&B chart.[11]

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.

In 2005, the song was re-released in the UK and reached number one for a single week, when it became the lowest-selling number one in UK history.

Charts and certificationsEdit

Covers and referencesEdit

The BeatlesEdit

The Beatles regularly performed "Jailhouse Rock" starting in 1958 (as The Quarrymen) and continuing all the way through 1960 with John Lennon on lead vocal; no recording is known to survive.[33] Quarryman Len Garry (in his book "John, Paul & Me - Before The Beatles" p. 168) states that the group actually started performing the song in 1957.


"Jailhouse Rock" was performed regularly in a medley along with many old rock and roll hits by Queen as early as 1970[34] and was the opening song on Queen's 1979 Crazy Tour and the 1980 North American tour for The Game.

Film and television referencesEdit

It is the last song in the motion picture The Blues Brothers. The song is featured in the 1995 film Casper and the 2006 animated television film Leroy & Stitch. American Idol Season 5 contestant Taylor Hicks performed it on May 9, 2006, and Season 7 contestant Danny Noriega performed it on February 20, 2008. In an episode of Full House, Jesse and Becky sing this song at their wedding reception. In the third season episode of Riverdale titled, "Chapter Thirty-Seven: Fortune and Men's Eyes", the Riverdale Vixens performing the song outside of the Leopold and Loeb Juvenile Detention Center, where Archie Andrews (played by KJ Apa) is in front of the prisoners.[35]

The song parodied as Mental House Rock in the Simpsons episode Take My Wife, Sleaze

Travis Tritt and Trace Adkins included a live version of the song in the CBS episode of the show.

In the 2014 film, Seviiiiille Hoooooome, Alvin Seville covered the song as a 7-inch single, CD single and digital download with the B-side Heartbreak Hotel.

Other coversEdit

Mötley Crüe included a live version of the song as the last track in the album Girls, Girls, Girls.

In 1975 ZZ Top covered "Jailhouse Rock" on their fourth album, Fandango!

Swiss artists Bo Katzman (de) and the Soul Cats cover the song as "Jailhouse Rap" on their 1990 CD The Wonderful World of the Soul Cats in a mash up/medley with "Rock Everybody" by M. Davis/J. Josea and "Tutti Frutti". The song is unrelated to the similarly named Fat Boys' song.

Looney Tunes[36] and Micro Chips (In Spanish)[37] did covers of the song.

Figure skating world champion Javier Fernández performed part of his Elvis Presley free program to "Jailhouse Rock" during the 2016-17 season,[38] when he won his 5th consecutive European Championships gold medal. The program also included sections of "Trouble" and "Fever".

In 2017 South Korean band PENTAGON sampled this song in "Critical Beauty (예뻐죽겠네)"

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "ROCKABILLY Definition".
  2. ^ "The RS 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". Rolling Stone. Retrieved June 2, 2007.
  3. ^ Rolling Stone
  4. ^ "A Short History of 'Retcon'". Retrieved November 24, 2019.
  5. ^ "Jailhouse Rock". In Rolling Stone, December 9, 2004.
  6. ^ Philip Brett, Elizabeth Wood and Gary Thomas, Queering the Pitch: The New Gay and Lesbian Musicology (Routledge, 2006), p. 363.
  7. ^ Garry Mulholland, Popcorn: Fifty Years of Rock'n'Roll Movies (Orion Books, 2010).
  8. ^ Douglas Brode, Elvis Cinema and Popular Culture (McFarland & Co., 2006), p. 46.
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Country Hits: 1944–2006, Second edition. Record Research. p. 272.
  11. ^ Billboard December 16, 1957. page 61
  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. 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 – IFPI Finland. 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. 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. ^ "The Official UK Singles Chart 2005" (PDF). UKChartsPlus. Retrieved July 8, 2018.
  31. ^ Copsey, Rob (August 16, 2017). "Elvis Presley's Top 50 biggest selling songs revealed". Official Charts Company. Retrieved August 16, 2017.
  32. ^ "American single certifications – Elvis Presley – Jailhouse Rock". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH. 
  33. ^ Lewisohn, Mark (September 22, 1992). The Complete Beatles Chronicles. Harmony Books. p. 363. ISBN 978-0517581001.
  34. ^ "Jailhouse Rock". Retrieved September 11, 2014.
  35. ^ "Riverdale – Chapter Thirty-Seven: Fortune and Men's Eyes – Jailhouse Rock Scene". YouTube.
  36. ^ Donkers, Chuck. "Bugs & Friends Sing Elvis – Looney Tunes : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved August 24, 2012.
  37. ^ "Rock de la Carcel by Micro Chips on SoundCloud – Hear the world's sounds". September 10, 2011. Retrieved April 3, 2014.
  38. ^ "Biography". April 6, 2017. Archived from the original on May 29, 2017. Retrieved May 10, 2017.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)

External linksEdit