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Shoes (American band)

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Shoes is an American power pop band, formed in Zion, Illinois, in 1974 by brothers John and Jeff Murphy, and Gary Klebe and incorporating several different drummers including Skip Meyer, Barry Shumaker, Ric Menck, John Richardson, and Jeff Hunter.

Background information
OriginZion, Illinois, United States
GenresRock, power pop
Years active1974–present
LabelsBlack Vinyl Records, Bomp!, Elektra
MembersJohn Murphy
Jeff Murphy
Gary Klebe
Past membersBarry Shumaker
Skip Meyer
Ric Menck
John Richardson
Jeff Hunter

Shoes formed their own record label, Black Vinyl Records, and owned and operated their own commercial recording studio (Short Order Recorder) from 1983 to 2004. Many artists recorded at the studio and some went on to sign major label recording contracts, including Local H and Material Issue.




The Murphy brothers and Klebe were high school friends and decided to form a band following graduation. At the time none of the members knew how to play an instrument so each member picked an instrument to learn and promised to reunite within one year. Within the first year the three got back together to rehearse and eventually record their first album.

"A formalist's delight—the three principals pursue their theme of Sad Love as obsessively as a cavalier writing sonnets to his lady. Their voices are interchangeably breathy, their tempos unflappably moderate, their guitar hooks unfailingly right. And when for a change of pace one of them sounds bitter the effect is as startling as a Johnny Ramone guitar solo."

—Review of Present Tense in Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies (1981)[1]

In 1977 Shoes recorded the album Black Vinyl Shoes in Jeff Murphy's living room and pressed 1,000 copies on their own label, Black Vinyl Records. The album was sold at local record stores and by mail order through Bomp! magazine. Shoes then released a single "Tomorrow Night" on Bomp! Records in June 1978. Soon after that Black Vinyl Shoes was licensed to PVC Records which released the album in November 1978. The group signed to Elektra Records in April 1979 and released their first major label album, Present Tense, that September. The album peaked at number 50 on the Billboard 200 and yielded the minor hit single "Too Late" which reached number 75 on the Billboard Hot 100.[2]

1980s and 1990sEdit

When MTV went on the air on August 1, 1981, the channel aired four of Shoes' videos: "Too Late", "Tomorrow Night", "Cruel You" and "In My Arms Again", making Shoes one of the first bands to be shown on MTV.[3]

The band went on to do three more videos: "In Her Shadow" (1982), "When Push Comes To Shove"(1985) and "Feel The Way That I Do" (1991).


The Shoes song Your Very Eyes was covered by Jeffrey Foskett on his 2000 album Twelve and Twelve.

In early 2007, the band released a double CD titled Double Exposure, which contains demos of their songs from the albums Present Tense and Tongue Twister. In the same time frame, Jeff Murphy published a book entitled, "Birth of a Band, The Record Deal and the Recording of Present Tense" which documents the band's inception, major label signing and subsequent recording of their first internationally distributed album, Present Tense. In January 2007 Jeff released a solo album titled Cantilever.


In January 2011 Shoes got together in the studio with drummer John Richardson to lay down rhythm tracks for a new batch of Shoes songs. Over the next 14 months recording continued on what would become their first studio album of new material in over 17 years. Released in mid-2012, "Ignition" adds to a career that spans more than 4 decades, giving the band the milestone of releasing music in each of the decades 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s and 2010s.[4][5][6]

On July 9, 2014, Skip Meyer died. He was 64 years old.[7]


Some have inaccurately stated that the group's name originated from an interview the Beatles granted on their first American tour in February, 1964. However, as noted in Boys Don’t Lie: A History of Shoes by Mary E. Donnelly (New York college professor and managing editor of with Moira McCormick in interviewing John Murphy:

Much ink has been spilled debating the meaning of the band's name. John absolutely insists that he was unaware of a CBS News interview from February 10, 1964, in which John Lennon, dismissing a similar question about their moniker, quipped, "It means Beatles, doesn't it? But that's just a name, you know, like 'shoe'." Paul McCartney immediately chimed in, "The Shoes, you see? We could have been called the Shoes for all you know." But if the band's name was intended to be an intentional evocation of that moment, there would certainly have been a "The," which there isn't. Asked why, John says, "I guess Shoes just sounded right... like 'look at those cool shoes' or 'where are my shoes?' ... it was like Sparks or Wings or Faces or even Big Star... The first time we heard the 'the' was from a writer...we winced and corrected him. 'No, no…it's just Shoes.' ... 'The Shoes' just rubbed us wrong.[8][citation needed]



Year Title Label Notes
1974/5 Heads or Tails private release Limited 4 copies - acetate LP
1976 One in Versailles private release LP
1976 Bazooka private release Cass
1977 Black Vinyl Shoes Black Vinyl
Sire (UK)
Black Vinyl (BV10092)
1979 Present Tense Elektra LP, Cass
1980 Tongue Twister Elektra LP, Cass
1982 Boomerang Elektra LP, Cass
1984 Silhouette New Rose (France)
Demon (England)
Line (Germany)
Black Vinyl (BV15191)
LP, Cass
1987 Shoes Best Black Vinyl (BV19787) CD
1988 Present Tense / Tongue Twister Black Vinyl (BV19888) CD, Cass. Re-issue
1989 Stolen Wishes Black Vinyl (BV10189)
New Rose (France)
VC (Japan)
1990 Boomerang / Shoes on Ice Black Vinyl (BV18190) CD Re-issue
1994 Propeller Black Vinyl (BV10294) CD
1995 Fret Buzz (live) Black Vinyl (BV10495) CD
1997 As-Is Black Vinyl (BV10596) Double CD (re-issue of "One In Versailles", "Bazooka" and other rarities)
2007 Cantilever Black Vinyl (BV10101) Jeff Murphy solo CD
2007 Double Exposure Black Vinyl (BV11979) Double CD (Present Tense & Tongue Twister demos)
2012 Ignition Black Vinyl (BV16112-2) CD, MP3 (First all-new album in 18 years)
2015 Primal Vinyl Alive Naturalsound Records (Alive0170-1) Star-burst colored Vinyl LP (12-song compilation includes early demos and unreleased live track from 2013 tour)

Singles and EPsEdit

Year Title Label Notes
1978 "Tomorrow Night" b/w "Okay" Bomp (Bomp116) 7" single
1979 "Too Late" Elektra 7" single
1982 Shoes on Ice Elektra 12" EP
1995 Tore a Hole Black Vinyl (BV10395) CD

Tracks on compilationsEdit

Year Album Title Shoes Track Label Notes
1978 The Best of Bomp Volume One "Tomorrow Night" Bomp!
1989 Everyday Is a Holly Day Words Of Love New Rose (France)
Emergo (EMD9465)
Buddy Holly tribute CD
1991 Yuletunes This Christmas Black Vinyl (BV12591) Christmas CD
1993 Shake It Up! – American Power Pop II (1978–80) "Tomorrow Night"
"Too Late"
1993 Yellow Pills Volume One I Miss You Big Deal (9003) American Pop CD
1994 Yellow Pills Volume One Thing of the Past Big Deal (9006) American Pop CD
1996 The Roots of Powerpop "Tomorrow Night" Bomp!


  1. ^ Christgau, Robert (1981). "Consumer Guide '70s: S". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 089919026X. Retrieved March 12, 2019 – via
  2. ^ Green, Paul. "Shoes Typifying A&R, Promo Link" Billboard October 27, 1979: 72
  3. ^ Lapatine, Scott (2006-08-01), MTV Playlist August 1st, 1981, retrieved 2017-02-10
  4. ^ Woodstra, Chris, Shoes bio at Allmusic, retrieved 2010-11-28
  5. ^ Makamson, Collin (Oct 2004), Shoes interview, retrieved 2010-11-28
  6. ^ Robbins, Ira, Trouser Press, retrieved 2010-11-28
  7. ^ Skip Meyer 1949-2014
  8. ^ Robbins, Ira, purepoppress, retrieved 2010-11-28

External linksEdit