Sunday, July 21, 2013

Sun Records: Blue Suede Shoes

It’s the beginning of the fourth week of the month and time to bring another Fourth Week Label Feature. This month, we begin our tribute to Sun Records of Memphis, TN. Sam Phillips started Sun Records in 1952 with the intent of recording local rhythm and blues artists.

In the mid fifties, it became the label catering to different musical genres including rock ‘n roll, rockabilly, and country. A number of notable artists recorded for Sun including, Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins, Rufus Thomas, Conway Twitty, Charlie Rich, and others. This week, we’ll feature seven records from the Sun stable of artists.

In 1969, Shelby Singleton purchased Sun from Phillips. While the label was primarily a reissue label, it had signed a number of newer acts over the years. Today, we feature one of the biggest records on the Sun imprint – Carl Perkins’ “Blue Suede Shoes.”

Perkins had two influences for the song. The first came in the fall of 1955 when Johnny Cash told Perkins about an American airman in Germany who called his regulation footwear as “blue suede shoes.” Cash encouraged Perkins to write a song about the shoes. In December 1955, Perkins was playing at a dance and he heard a young man chide his date not to “step on his suedes” – they were blue suede shoes. Perkins was now inspired to write the song.

Released in December 1955, “Blue Suede Shoes” was able to run up the pop charts and R&B charts to the #2 positions on both and took the #1 slot on the country charts in early 1956. The song was recorded by a number of other artists, but most notably by Elvis who took it to #20 in the fall of 1956.

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