Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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That’s All Right

Written and first recorded (as “That’s All Right, Mama”) by Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup (1946).
Hit versions by Marty Robbins (C&W #7 1955), Elvis Presley (UK #3 2004).

From the wiki: “The song was written by Arthur ‘Big Boy’ Crudup, and originally recorded by him in Chicago in September 1946. Some of the lyrics are traditional blues verses first recorded by Blind Lemon Jefferson in 1926. It was less successful than some of Crudup’s previous recordings, but was rereleased under the title ‘That’s All Right, Mama’ and issued as RCA’s first Rhythm & Blues record on their new 45 rpm single format, on bright orange vinyl.

“Elvis Presley’s version was recorded at Sun Studios in July 1954, and released with ‘Blue Moon of Kentucky’ as the B-side – Presley’s first two commercial single releases. Neither song charted in 1954. (Crudup was credited as the composer on the label of Presley’s single, but Crudup had to wait until the 1960s before receiving an estimated $60,000 in back royalties.)

“Legend has it that during what had been an uneventful recording session at Sun Studios on the evening of July 5, 1954, Presley, Scotty Moore, and Bill Black were taking a break between recordings when Presley started fooling around with an up-tempo version of Crudup’s song. Black began joining in on his upright bass, and soon they were joined by Moore on guitar. Producer Sam Phillips, taken aback by this sudden upbeat atmosphere, asked the three of them to start again so he could record it. Upon finishing the recording session, according to Scotty Moore, Bill Black remarked, ‘Damn. Get that on the radio and they’ll run us out of town.’

“Phillips gave copies of the record to local Memphis disc jockeys Dewey Phillips (no relation) of WHBQ, Uncle Richard of WMPS, and Sleepy Eyed John Lepley of WHHM. Interest in the record was so intense that Dewey reportedly played the record 14 times and received over 40 telephone calls and telegrams.

“‘That’s All Right’ was officially released as Elvis Presley’s first single on July 19, 1954, and sold around 20,000 copies. The number was not enough to chart nationally, but the single did reach #4 on the local Memphis charts. The song would see a UK re-release in 2004 when it would reach #3 on the UK Singles chart.

“Presley recalled how in his childhood he would listen to Arthur Crudup ‘bang his box the way I do now, and I said if I ever got to the place where I could feel all old Arthur felt, I’d be a music man like nobody ever saw.'”

Elvis Presley, “That’s All Right” (1954):

Marty Robbins, “That’s All Right” (1955):

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