Elvis Presley rendition
|“Blue Suede Shoes”|
|Single by Elvis Presley|
|from the album ‘Elvis Presley‘|
|Format||7-inch 45 rpm, 10-inch 78 rpm|
|Recorded||RCA Studios, New York City, January 30, 1956|
|Genre||Rockabilly, rock and roll|
|Elvis Presley singles chronology|
Recording cover versions of songs was a common practice during the 1940s and 1950s, and “Blue Suede Shoes” was one of the first songs RCA Victor wanted its newly contracted artist, Elvis Presley, to record. “Heartbreak Hotel” and “Shoes” rose on the charts at roughly the same time. RCA Victor, with its superior distribution and radio contacts, knew it could probably steal a hit record from Phillips and Perkins. Presley, who knew both Perkins and Phillips from his days at Sun Records, gave in to pressure from RCA, but he requested that the company hold back his version from release as a single. Presley’s version features two guitar solos by Scotty Moore, with Bill Black on bass and D.J. Fontana on drums.
According to Moore, when the song was recorded, “We just went in there and started playing, just winged it. Just followed however Elvis felt.” According to reports confirmed by Sam Phillips, the RCA Victor producer Steve Sholes agreed not to release Presley’s version of the song as a single while Perkins’s release was hot.
Presley performed the song on national television three times in 1956. The first was February 11 on Stage Show. He also performed it again on his third appearance on Stage Show, on March 17, and again on the Milton Berle Show on April 3. On July 1, Steve Allen introduced Presley on The Steve Allen Show, and Presley, dressed in formal evening wear, said, “I think that I have on something tonight that’s not quite right for evening wear.” Allen asked, “What’s that, Elvis?” “Blue suede shoes” was the answer, as he lifted his left foot to show the audience. Presley mentioned blue suede shoes a second time on this show: in a song during the “Range Roundup” comedy skit with Allen, Andy Griffith, and Imogene Coca, he delivered the line, “I’m a-warnin’ you galoots, don’t step on my blue suede shoes.”
Moore has said that Presley recorded the song to help out Perkins after his accident. “Elvis wasn’t really thinking at that time that it was going to make money for Carl; he was doing it as more of a tribute type thing. Of course Carl was glad he did. It really helped as his record started going down.”
“Blue Suede Shoes” was the first song on the groundbreaking album Elvis Presley, which was released in March. RCA Victor released two other records with “Blue Suede Shoes” the same month: an extended play with four songs (RCA Victor EPA 747) and a double extended play with eight songs (RCA Victor EPB 1254).
RCA Victor released the Presley version as a single on September 8, one of a number of singles RCA issued simultaneously, all culled from the album Elvis Presley. This single reached number 20, whereas Perkins’s version had topped the chart.
In 1960, Presley re-recorded “Blue Suede Shoes” for the soundtrack of the film G.I. Blues. While Presley’s character and his band, the “Three Blazes”, play a ballad at a Frankfurt night club (“Doin’ the Best I Can”, by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman), a bored GI plays Presley’s version of “Blue Suede Shoes” on the jukebox, remarking that he wants “to hear an original”. When another soldier tries to unplug the jukebox, the audience erupts in a fight. This studio re-recording was one of the few occasions in Presley’s career in which he agreed to re-record a previously issued song. He did it on this occasion because the rest of the soundtrack was recorded in stereo, and thus a stereo version of “Blue Suede Shoes” was required. The 1960 version uses virtually the same arrangement as the 1956 recording. This version was included on the soundtrack album to G.I. Blues but was never released as a single in the United States.
In 1985, RCA issued a music video of Presley’s original version of “Blue Suede Shoes”. The video featured a contemporary setting and actors (and Carl Perkins in a cameo appearance), with Presley shown in archival footage.