Saturday, July 5, 2014

The 60th Anniversary of Elvis Presley's First Single

It was sixty years ago today that Elvis Presley recorded his very first single, "That's All Right." The song "That's All Right" had been written by  Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup, who first recorded it in 1946 in Chicago on the RCA label. Upon its first release "That's All Right" did not break into the national charts. RCA re-released the song in 1949 as their first R&B single in the new 45 RPM format under the title "That's All Right, Mama". Sadly this re-release did not perform particularly well either.

Six years later "That's All Right" would make history. It was on 5 July 1954 that Elvis Presley first recorded with guitarist Scotty Moore (who would record many more songs with him) and bassist Bill Black (who would also record many more songs with Elvis). It was while the trio were taking a break from recording that Messrs. Presley, Moore, and Black extemporised an up-tempo version of "It's All Right". Producer and founder of Sun Records Sam Philips persuaded the three musicians to record this upbeat version of "It's All Right". It then became Elvis Presley's first release on Sun Records and his first single ever. It's flip side was  "Blue Moon of Kentucky", a song written and recorded by bluegrass pioneer Bill Monroe in 1946.

Elvis Presley's cover of "That's All Right" was released on 19 July 1954. While the single did not crack the Billboard's national charts, it did go to #4 on the local Memphis chart. It also generated interest in the new singer, who would crack the Billboard singles chart with "I Don't Care if the Sun Don't Shine", which went to #74, later the same year. After some success on the country charts in 1955, Elvis would have a smash hit with "Heartbreak Hotel" in early 1956, which went to #1 on the Billboard singles and country charts and to #3 on the R&B chart. The rest, as they say, is history.

Here then is Elvis Presely's historic first recording of "That's All Right".

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