Why Elvis Presley’s Producer Felt His ‘Blue Suede Shoes’ Overshadowed the Original

Elvis Presley‘s classic song “Blue Suede Shoes” was a cover of a song by Carl Perkins. Elvis’ producer revealed the original of the song was initially more successful than the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s cover. Subsequently, the producer explained why the cover became more famous than the original.

"Blue Suede Shoes" singer Elvis Presley holding a telephone while leaning on a futon
Elvis Presley | GAB Archive/Redferns

Why Elvis Presley’s producer felt the King was more successful than Carl Perkins

Sam Phillips founded Sun Records. He produced songs for Elvis and Perkins during their early careers. Phillips later sold Elvis’ contract to another record label: RCA Victor. During a 1986 interview with Rolling Stone, Phillips was asked if Perkins’ “Blue Suede Shoes” helped Sun Records financially after Elvis switched labels.

“Absolutely,” Phillips recalled. “And there was another one of those instincts. I knew I was giving up some kind of a cat, man, but, sure enough, I sold him, and that’s what financed ‘Blue Suede Shoes.'”

Phillips revealed RCA Victor’s Steve Sholes asked him if purchasing Elvis’ contract was a poor idea. “I told him, ‘You haven’t bought the wrong person,'” Phillips recalled. “And I gave him the reasons. No. 1, Elvis certainly had the talent. And unlike Carl, he was single and had no children and was a helluva-looking man.”

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How Sam Phillips responded when Elvis Presley covered ‘Blue Suede Shoes’

Phillips remembered Sholes’ response. “He said, ‘Well, would you be mad at us if we put out ‘Blue Suede Shoes?'” Phillips said. “Man, that staggered me. I said, ‘Steve, you all are big enough to kill me, you know.’ But they didn’t put it out as a single. They released it as an EP.”

Phillips was asked if Elvis’ “Blue Suede Shoes” outsold Perkins’.” Hell, no,” Phillips said. “Well, I guess over the years when it was put in 19 packages. But the only reason Carl is not recognized for ‘Blue Suede Shoes’ is that Elvis became so mammothly big.”

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How ‘Blue Suede Shoes’ performed on the charts

Elvis released “Blue Suede Shoes” before the Billboard Hot 100 debuted, so it didn’t reach the chart. “Blue Suede Shoes” appeared on numerous compilation albums, including Elvis: 2nd to None. The compilation reached No. 3 on the Billboard 200. Elvis: 2nd to None stayed on the chart for 16 weeks.

According to The Official Charts Company, “Blue Suede Shoes” reached No. 9 in the U.K. in 1956. It stayed on the chart for 10 weeks. In the 2000s, “Blue Suede Shoes” was rereleased as a single and reached No. 13 in the U.K., staying on the chart for two weeks. Meanwhile, Elvis: 2nd to None peaked at No. 4 and lasted 12 weeks on the chart.

“Blue Suede Shoes” is a classic track even if a cover overshadowed the original version.

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