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Accounts differ on 'Blue Suede Shoes'

January 27, 2022 at 10:00 p.m.

This week in 1955: RCA demonstrated the music synthesizer; President Dwight Eisenhower allowed press conferences to be filmed for newscasts and newsreels for the first time; United States gave $216 million in aid to South Vietnam; and a singer from Ridgely, Tennessee, had his first hit record.

Through the years, different stories have developed as to why and how certain songs were written. One such tune is Carl Perkins' 1956 No. 1 "Blue Suede Shoes."

Several record books give Johnny Cash the credit for giving the idea for the song to Carl Perkins. Blue suede shoes happened to be a clothing fad at that time and Cash supposedly mentioned to Perkins that he should write a song about the blue suede shoes fad.

But other record books and/or sources credit Perkins with the idea after he overheard a young man at a dance remark to his date "Hey, don't step on my blue suede shoes." But regardless of which story you choose to believe, Carl Perkins did write the song – writing the lyrics down on a brown paper sack and recording it at Sun Studios in Memphis, Tennessee, on Dec. 19, 1955, and after two takes the recording was done that would make it to No. 1 on the country music charts on Feb. 18, 1956 and stick there for three weeks.

The record would wind up in The Grammy Hall Of Fame after being on the country charts for 24 weeks. The Sun Records single peaked at No. 2 on the pop charts and stayed there for four weeks.

Carl Perkins placed 15 songs on the country music charts from 1956 through 1987.

"Blue Suede Shoes" was his first charted song and his only No. 1. He was also a member of the Johnny Cash touring band from 1965 through 1975.

I talked to Perkins several times during his career but the conversation I'll always remember was the first one, in the basement dressing rooms at the Arkansas Memorial Auditorium in Texarkana, Arkansas.

I was complementing his guitar playing and he replied "Man, I ain't no guitar player – let me tell you about guitar players. When you play my kind of music – if you can keep time, stay in the right key and make a lot of noise, then folks think you're a guitar player – and I can do that."

Carl Perkins died in 1998.

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