Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll: "That's All Right"

Monday, January 7: 5 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Elvis Presley's That's All Right is one of the Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll

Tuesday, January 8, 2013 would have been Elvis Presley's 78th birthday. Presley was among the first ever inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, an honor befitting his standing as the undisputed King of Rock and Roll. Presely rose from humble beginnings to launch a musical revolution, helping guide the trajectory of the rock and roll genre for deacades. But is "That's All Right" where the legend of Elvis began? What's certain is that "That's All Right" was Elvis Presley's first commercially released recording. He had previously made two private recordings, whose four songs give absolutely no hint of what was to come. Neither did two additional songs Presley tried before "That's All Right" during a faithful July 5, 1954, recording session. That Presley was recording at all is a tribute to Sam Phillips. Phillips' Memphis Recording Service was where Presley had cut his private acetate records and where he would sometimes hang out, trying to find an opening in the music business. Phillips contacted Presley after receiving a song demo he thought might suit the shy teenager. It didn't, but Phillips persevered. He called for the July 5 audition, where the acoustic-guitar–strumming Presley was accompanied only by electric guitarist Scotty Moore and standup bassist Bill Black. Presley undoubtedly had heard Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup's 1946 recording of "That's All Right" on a popular blues-oriented Memphis radio show. His own version is fairly faithful to Crudup's uptempo original – even to the scat-singing at the end – but inflected with a youthful enthusiasm that was Presley's alone. Upon release a bare two weeks after the recording session, "That's All Right" became an immediate hit within Memphis city limits. The world at large would have to wait at least seven months before discovering what Presleymania was all about.

Learn more about Presley on Tueday, January 8, 2013 at 1 pm at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio, as curatorial director Howard Kramer leads a special "Gallery Talk" presentation in the Rock Hall's Elvis Presley exhibit, sharing the unique stories behind some of the rare Elvis Presley artifacts on display in the Museum.



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