That's All Right - Elvis' First Hit

Recorded in 1954, That's All Right (Mama) would become Elvis Presley's first hit single and launch the start of the white rock n' roll revolution. In this regard That's All Right (Mama) is probably one of the most influential songs of the XXth century and surely deserves a closer look.

Listen to That's All Right (Mama) sung by Elvis Presley

Here are two videos of Elvis interpreting That's All Right (Mama).
[Bring your mouse over the screen to choose between the videos]

1946 - The original version

That's All Right, Mama, was originally written and composed by an afro-american blues guitarist named Arthur 'Big Boy' Crudup, and recorded on the 6th of September 1946 for Victor Records. Although it's slower than Elvis' rendition, this first version is a rather fast tempo blues backed up by Ranson Knowling's bass and Judge Riley on the drums. Crudup's interpretation certainly lacks The King's teenage raw energy, but benefits from much more subtle singing and melody.

Listen to That's All Right, Mama sung by Arthur 'Big Boy' Crudup

The dawn of Rock n' Roll

In February 1954, the young Elvis Presley sings an enraged version of Crudup's That's All Right, Mama for the first time in front of a black audience at the Handy's Club on the crossroads of Beale Street and Hernando Street (Memphis - Tennessee).

Six month later on the 5th of July 1954, Elvis is invited to come back to Sam Phillips Sun Studios by country guitarist Scooty Moore and Bill Black from The Wranglers. The trio interprets a few rhythm n' blues and country songs but doesn't impress Phillips until Elvis bursts into That's All Right. Phillips, who allegedly said that same year : "I could make a million dollars if I found a white boy that could sing like a black man", immediately recognizes the potential of this new style.

Bill Black's dancing double-bass, Scotty Moore's simple but relentless guitar riff, Elvis' total physical implication in his singing, merge the music of the Delta with the aspirations of white suburban kids : Rock n' Roll rises from the overcoming of segregation's !
The song is published by Sun on the 19 of July with a crazy version of Blue Moon of Kentucky on the B-side. Two days later the song airs on Dewey Phillips radio show (Red, Hot & Blue) and the station is bombarded by calls of ecstatic fans, resulting in That's All Right (Mama) being played 14 times this evening.
The face of music has been changed forever !

Here are three additional cover versions

Rod Stewart

[On Every Picture Tells a Story]

The Stray Cats
[on Rumble In Brixton : The Very Best of The Stray Cats]

The Beatles
[on Live At The BBC]

Here are the lyrics to Elvis' rendition

Well, that's all right, mama
That's all right for you
That's all right mama, just anyway you do
Well, that's all right, that's all right.
That's all right now mama, anyway you do

Mama she done told me,
Papa done told me too
'Son, that gal your foolin' with,
She ain't no good for you'
But, that's all right, that's all right.
That's all right now mama, anyway you do

I'm leaving town, baby
I'm leaving town for sure
Well then you won't be bothered
With me hangin' round your door
Well, that's all right, that's all right.
That's all right now mama, anyway you do