That's All Right

"That's All Right Mama" is a song written and originally performed by blues singer Arthur Crudup and recorded in 1946. It "stands as a convincing front-runner for rock ‘n’ roll’s ground zero", according to one source.[1] It is best known as the debut single recorded and released by Elvis Presley. Presley's version was recorded on July 5, 1954,[2] and released on July 19, 1954 with "Blue Moon of Kentucky" as the B-side. It was ranked number 113 on the 2010 Rolling Stone magazine list of the "500 Greatest Songs of All Time".[3]

"That's All Right"
That's All Right.jpg
Single by Elvis Presley
B-side"Blue Moon of Kentucky"
ReleasedJuly 19, 1954 (1954-07-19)
RecordedJuly 5, 1954
StudioSun Studio, Memphis, Tennessee
GenreRockabilly
Length1:57
Label
Songwriter(s)Arthur Crudup
Producer(s)Sam Phillips
Elvis Presley singles chronology
"That's All Right"
(1954)
"Good Rockin' Tonight"
(1954)
Audio sample

In July 2004, exactly 50 years after its first issuing, the song was released as a CD single in several countries, reaching number three in the United Kingdom, number 31 in Australia, number 33 in Ireland, and number 47 in Sweden.

HistoryEdit

The song was written by Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup, and originally recorded by him in Chicago on September 6, 1946, as "That's All Right". Some of the lyrics are traditional blues verses first recorded by Blind Lemon Jefferson in 1926.[4][5] Crudup's recording was released as a single in 1947 on RCA Victor 20–2205, but was less successful than some of his previous recordings. At the same session, he recorded a virtually identical tune with different lyrics, "I Don't Know It", which was also released as a single (RCA Victor 20-2307). In early March 1949, the song was rereleased under the title "That's All Right, Mama" (RCA Victor 50-0000), which was issued as RCA's first rhythm and blues record on their new 45 rpm single format,[6][7] on bright orange vinyl.[8]

Elvis Presley's version was recorded in July 1954[9] while he started playing around in Sam Phillips studio and played the song faster than the original.[10] Its catalogue number was Sun 209.[11] Omitting Mama from the title, the label reads "That's All Right", and names the performers as Elvis Presley, Scotty, and Bill.[12] Arthur Crudup was credited as the composer on the label of Presley's single, but despite legal battles into the 1970s, reportedly never received royalties. An out-of-court settlement was supposed to pay Crudup an estimated $60,000 in back royalties, but never materialized.[13][14] Crudup had used lines in his song that had been present in earlier blues recordings, including Blind Lemon Jefferson's 1926 song "That Black Snake Moan".[14]

An article by The Guardian in 2004 refuted the suggestion that Presley's version was one of the first records of the rock'n'roll genre. It was simply one of "the first white artists' interpretations of a sound already well-established by black musicians almost a decade before. It was a raucous, driving, unnamed variant of rhythm and blues".[15]

A country music version by Marty Robbins peaked at number seven on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart in 1955.[16]

Presley's recordingEdit

ProductionEdit

On the evening of July 5, 1954, during an otherwise uneventful recording session at Sun Studio, Elvis Presley was on acoustic rhythm guitar, Scotty Moore was on lead guitar, and Bill Black was on string bass. During a break between recordings, Presley began improvising an up-tempo version of Arthur Crudup's song "That's All Right, Mama".[7] Black, on bass, joined, and the pair was soon joined by Moore's guitar.[7] Producer Sam Phillips, at the suddenly upbeat atmosphere, asked the three to start again so he could record it.[7]

Presley's first two visits to Sun Studio had been in the summer of 1953 and in January 1954, followed by two more visits in the summer of 1954.[17] This recording session was Presley's fifth visit.[17] Produced in the style of a "live" performance—all parts performed at once and recorded onto one track—the recording contains no drums or additional instruments.[18] Presley's version has lyrics different from Arthur Crudup's version. (In 1986, Sam Phillips recalled that when recording, Elvis changed some lyrics of songs.)[19] The next evening, the trio recorded, in a similar style, "Blue Moon of Kentucky", which became the "That's All Right" single's B side.[7]

ReleaseEdit

 
1954 Sun 45 release, Sun 209, by Elvis Presley, Scotty and Bill.

Sam Phillips gave copies of the acetate to local disc jockeys Dewey Phillips[20] (no relation) of WHBQ, Uncle Richard of WMPS, and Sleepy Eyed John Lepley of WHHM.[7] On July 7, 1954, Dewey Phillips played "That's All Right" on his popular radio show "Red, Hot & Blue".[7] On hearing the news that Dewey was going to play his song, Presley went to the local movie theater to calm his nerves.[7]

Interest in the song was so intense that Dewey reportedly played the acetate 14 times and received over 40 telephone calls.[7] Presley was persuaded to go to the station for an on-air interview that night.[7] Unaware that the microphone was live at the time, Presley answered Dewey's questions, including one about which high school he attended: a roundabout way of informing the audience of Presley's race without actually asking the question.[7]

"That's All Right" was officially released on July 19, 1954,[7] and sold around 20,000 copies.[7] This number was not enough to chart nationally, but the single reached number four on the local Memphis charts.[7]

2004 reissueEdit

In July 2004, exactly 50 years after its first release, the song was released as a CD single in the United Kingdom, and entered the UK Singles Chart at number three. It also became a modest hit outside the UK, peaking at number 31 in Australia, number 33 in Ireland, and number 47 in Sweden.

Weekly charts

Chart (2004) Peak
position
Australia (ARIA)[21] 31
Europe (Eurochart Hot 100)[22] 11
Ireland (IRMA)[23] 33
Scotland (OCC)[24] 5
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[25] 47
UK Singles (OCC)[26] 3

Year-end charts

Chart (2004) Position
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[27] 194

Sales and certifications

Region Certification Certified units/sales
United States (RIAA)[28] Gold 500,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone

LegacyEdit

Rolling Stone magazine argued in a 2004 article that Presley's recording of "That's All Right" was the first rock-and-roll record.[29] "That's All Right" has been recorded by numerous artists in a variety of genres.[30]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "5 Candidates for the First Rock 'n' Roll Song". Mentalfloss. March 23, 2012. Retrieved August 2, 2020.
  2. ^ "Elvis Presley records "That's All Right (Mama)"". History.com. Archived from the original on January 12, 2012. Retrieved July 6, 2010.
  3. ^ "The Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". Scribd.com. Retrieved September 7, 2015.
  4. ^ "The History of the Blues - Francis Davis". Books.google.co.uk. Retrieved September 7, 2015.
  5. ^ "Big Boy's "That's All Right"".
  6. ^ What Was The First Rock'n'Roll Record. Faber and Faber. 1992. p. 201. ISBN 0-571-12939-0.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Elvis: His Life from A to Z. Outlet. 1992. p. 479. ISBN 978-0-517-06634-8.
  8. ^ Dawson, Jim, and Steve Propes, What Was The First Rock 'n' Roll Record ? (Faber and Faber, 1992), ISBN 0-571-12939-0
  9. ^ "Sun Records discography". Globaldogproductions.info. Retrieved September 7, 2015.
  10. ^ History.com Editors. "Elvis Presley records "That's All Right (Mama)"". HISTORY. A&E Television Networks. Retrieved February 9, 2019.
  11. ^ "SUN Records, Memphis Tennessee". Boija.com. Retrieved September 7, 2015.
  12. ^ Stefan Wirz. "'Big Boy' Crudup discography". Wirz.de. Retrieved September 8, 2015.
  13. ^ Szatmary, David (2014). Rockin' in Time. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson.
  14. ^ a b Gray, Michael (2006), The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia p. 165.
  15. ^ |Will the creator of modern music please stand up?| It wasn't Bill Haley. It wasn't Elvis. And it didn't happen in 1954.
  16. ^ "Marty Robbins Billboard Singles". Allmusic. Retrieved August 24, 2011.
  17. ^ a b "Elvis Presley Recordings". Elvisrecordings.com. Retrieved December 6, 2010.
  18. ^ "Sam Phillips—Sun Studios Memphis—the father of rock n roll". Elvispresleynews.com. Archived from the original on March 25, 2010. Retrieved July 22, 2010.
  19. ^ "Sam Phillips: The Rolling Stone Interview". Rollingstone.com.
  20. ^ Gilliland, John (1969). "Show 7 - The All American Boy: Enter Elvis and the rock-a-billies. [Part 1]" (audio). Pop Chronicles. University of North Texas Libraries.
  21. ^ "Australian-charts.com – Elvis Presley – That's All Right". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved January 2, 2019.
  22. ^ "Hits of the World – Eurocharts" (PDF). Billboard. Vol. 116 no. 30. July 24, 2004. p. 55. Retrieved March 22, 2020.
  23. ^ "Irish-charts.com – Discography Elvis Presley". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved January 28, 2020.
  24. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved January 2, 2019.
  25. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Elvis Presley – That's All Right". Singles Top 100. Retrieved January 2, 2019.
  26. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved January 2, 2019.
  27. ^ "The Official UK Singles Chart 2004" (PDF). UKChartsPlus. Retrieved January 2, 2019.
  28. ^ "American single certifications – Elvis Presley – That's All Right". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH. 
  29. ^ Cave, Damien, Matt Diehl, Gavin Edwards, Jenny Eliscu, David Fricke, Lauren Gitlin, Matt Hendrickson, Kirk Miller, Austin Scaggs, and Rob Sheffield. "Truck Driver Invents Rock". Rolling Stone, no. 951 (June 24, 2004): 84-85.
  30. ^ "Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup: That's All Right – Also Performed By". AllMusic. Retrieved July 10, 2019.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)

External linksEdit