Summertime Blues

Last updated
"Summertime Blues"
Summertime Blues Eddie Cochran.jpg
Label of the 1958 US single
Single by Eddie Cochran
B-side "Love Again"
  • July 21, 1958 (1958-07-21) (US)
  • September 1958 (1958-09) (UK) [1]
Format 7-inch single
RecordedMarch 28, 1958
Studio Gold Star Studios, Hollywood, California
Genre Rock and roll, rockabilly
Label Liberty
Producer(s) Eddie Cochran
Eddie Cochran singles chronology
"Pretty Girl"
"Summertime Blues"
"C'mon Everybody"

"Summertime Blues" is a song co-written and recorded by American rockabilly artist Eddie Cochran. [2] It was written by Cochran and his manager Jerry Capehart. Originally a single B-side, it was released in August 1958 [1] and peaked at number 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 on September 29, 1958 and number 18 on the UK Singles Chart. It has been covered by many artists, including being a number-one hit for country music artist Alan Jackson, and scoring notable hits in versions by The Who, Blue Cheer and Brian Setzer, the last of whom recorded his version for the 1987 film La Bamba , where he portrayed Cochran. Jimi Hendrix performed it in concert. [3] [4] [5] [6]

Rockabilly is one of the earliest styles of rock and roll music, dating back to the early 1950s in the United States, especially the South. As a genre it blends the sound of Western musical styles such as country with that of rhythm and blues, leading to what is considered "classic" rock and roll. Some have also described it as a blend of bluegrass with rock and roll. The term "rockabilly" itself is a portmanteau of "rock" and "hillbilly", the latter a reference to the country music that contributed strongly to the style. Other important influences on rockabilly include western swing, boogie-woogie, jump blues, and electric blues.

Eddie Cochran American rock and roll pioneer

Ray Edward Cochran was a mid-20th century American rock and roll musician. Cochran's songs, such as "Twenty Flight Rock", "Summertime Blues", "C'mon Everybody" and "Somethin' Else", captured teenage frustration and desire in the mid-1950s and early 1960s. He experimented with multitrack recording, distortion techniques, and overdubbing even on his earliest singles. He played the guitar, piano, bass, and drums. His image as a sharply dressed and good-looking young man with a rebellious attitude epitomized the stance of the 1950s rocker, and in death he achieved an iconic status.

Jerry Neil Capehart was a songwriter and music manager. Capehart co-wrote the famous rock 'n' roll songs "Summertime Blues" and "C'mon Everybody" with Eddie Cochran, whom he also managed. One of his most-recorded songs, "Turn Around, Look at Me," was a chart hit for Glen Campbell, the Lettermen, and the Vogues. He died in Nashville, Tennessee.



The song is about the struggle between a teenager and his parents, his boss and his congressman. [7]

Eddie Cochran version

"Summertime Blues" was recorded on March 28, 1958 at Gold Star Recording Studios in Hollywood, California. Eddie Cochran sang both the vocal and bass vocal (the “work-a-late” portions, Cochran's tribute to the Kingfish character from the Amos and Andy television series), played all the guitar parts, and added the hand clapping with possibly Sharon Sheeley. Connie 'Guybo' Smith played the electric bass and Earl Palmer drums.

Sharon Kathleen Sheeley was an American songwriter who wrote songs for Glen Campbell, Ricky Nelson, Brenda Lee, and Sheeley's former fiancé, Eddie Cochran.

Earl Palmer American drummer

Earl Cyril Palmer was an American rock and roll and rhythm-and-blues drummer. He is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.


The 1958 Liberty Records single by Eddie Cochran was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999 and the song is ranked number 73 in Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. In March 2005, Q magazine placed it at number 77 in its list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks. [8] The song is also on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum list of "The Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll". [9] The song appears on the soundtrack for the movie Caddyshack , as well as opening season 4 of Beverly Hills, 90210 .

Liberty Records American record label

Liberty Records was an American record label started by chairman Simon Waronker in 1955 with Al Bennett as president and Theodore Keep as chief engineer. It was reactivated in 2001 in the United Kingdom and had two previous revivals.

The Grammy Hall of Fame is a hall of fame to honor musical recordings of lasting qualitative or historical significance. Inductees are selected annually by a special member committee of eminent and knowledgeable professionals from all branches of the recording arts. It is compiled by The Recording Academy in the United States, and was established in 1973. Recordings in all genres are eligible for selection, and must be at least 25 years old to be considered. Additions to the list are chosen annually by a committee of recording arts professionals.

<i>Rolling Stone</i><span class="nowrap" style="padding-left:0.1em;">'</span>s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time Wikimedia list article

"The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time" was the cover story of a special issue of Rolling Stone, issue number 963, published in December 2004, a year after the magazine published its list of "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time".

Chart performance

Chart (1958)Peak
Austrian Singles Chart [10] 18
Canadian Singles Chart10
Rhodesian Singles Chart (1968) [11] 12
South African Singles Chart (1968) [11] 18
UK Singles Chart [12] 18
UK Singles Chart (1968) [12] 34
US Billboard Hot 100 [13] 8

The Beach Boys version

"Summertime Blues"
Song by the Beach Boys
from the album Surfin' Safari
ReleasedOctober 1, 1962 (1962-10-01)
Label Capitol
Producer(s) Nik Venet

Recorded four years after the Eddie Cochran original (and some two years after his death), the Beach Boys paid tribute to him on their first album, Surfin' Safari , released October 1962. Lead vocal on the track was jointly sung by lead guitarist Carl Wilson, who was not yet 16, and rhythm guitarist David Marks, who had just turned 14. Never released as a single in the US, it gained enough popularity in the Philippines early in 1966 to post no. 7 on that country's hit parade as listed by Billboard in its weekly 'Hits of the World' charts.[ citation needed ]

<i>Surfin Safari</i> 1962 studio album by The Beach Boys

Surfin' Safari is the debut album by American rock band the Beach Boys, released on October 1, 1962 on Capitol Records. The official production credit went to Nick Venet, though it was Brian Wilson with his father Murry who contributed substantially to the album's production; Brian also wrote or co-wrote nine of its 12 tracks. The album peaked at No. 32 in its 37-week run on the US charts.

Carl Wilson American musician; original member of The Beach Boys

Carl Dean Wilson was an American musician, singer, and songwriter who co-founded the Beach Boys. He is best remembered as their lead guitarist, as the youngest brother of bandmates Brian and Dennis Wilson, and as the group's de facto leader in the early 1970s. He was also the band's musical director on stage from 1965 until his death.

<i>Billboard</i> (magazine) American music magazine

Billboard is an American entertainment media brand owned by the Billboard-Hollywood Reporter Media Group, a division of Eldridge Industries. It publishes pieces involving news, video, opinion, reviews, events, and style, and is also known for its music charts, including the Hot 100 and Billboard 200, tracking the most popular songs and albums in different genres. It also hosts events, owns a publishing firm, and operates several TV shows.

Johnny Chester version

Australian rock'n'roll singer Johnny Chester cited Cochran as one of his idols and had used the track when rehearsing his first band in 1959. [14] Chester released his cover version on W&G Records in 1962 and was backed on the recording by local instrumental group, The Chessmen, with Bert Stacpool on piano; his brother Les Stacpool on guitar; Frank McMahon on bass guitar; and Graeme Trottman on drums. [15] In December it peaked at No. 30 on the Kent Music Report. [16] [17]

John Howard Chester is an Australian singer-songwriter, who started his career in October 1959 singing rock'n'roll and in 1969 changed to country music. He has toured nationally with the Beatles, Roy Orbison, the Everly Brothers, Kenny Rogers, Johnny Cash, Tammy Wynette and Charley Pride. During his career he has led various groups including Johnny Chester and The Chessmen, Johnny Chester and Jigsaw, Johnny Chester and Hotspur. With Jigsaw he had five top 30 hit singles, "Gwen (Congratulations)" (1971), "Shame and Scandal", "Midnight Bus", "World's Greatest Mum" and "She's My Kind of Woman" (1974).

W&G Records was an Australian recording company that operated from the early 1950s to the 1970s. It was a subsidiary of the Melbourne precision engineering company White & Gillespie.

Kent Music Report Australian music chart between 1974-1998

The Kent Music Report was a weekly record chart of Australian music singles and albums which was compiled by music enthusiast David Kent from May 1974 through to 1988. After 1988, the Australian Recording Industry Association, which had been using the report under licence for a number of years, chose to produce their own listing as the ARIA Charts.

Blue Cheer version

"Summertime Blues"
Blue Cheer Summertime Blues.png
Netherlands single picture sleeve, 1968
Single by Blue Cheer
from the album Vincebus Eruptum
B-side "Out of Focus"
Format 7-inch single
Label Philips
Producer(s) Abe "Voco" Kesh
Blue Cheer singles chronology
"Summertime Blues"
"Just a Little Bit"

The American rock band Blue Cheer recorded their version of "Summertime Blues" in 1967 and included it on their 1968 release entitled Vincebus Eruptum . The single peaked at #14 on the Billboard Hot 100, pushing the sales of the album even higher to #11. [20] It topped the Dutch charts for one week in 1968. [21] While not as widely played or recognized as The Who's version, it certainly is more distorted. This version was ranked #73 on the list of "The 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time" of Rolling Stone. [22] This version omits the responses and instead has each band member do a quick "solo". A portion of Blue Cheer's version appears in the movie Troll. This was the first heavy metal song to ever make the pop charts, beating both Steppenwolf's "Born to Be Wild" and Iron Butterfly's "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" by months. Rush did a cover of this version for their Feedback EP. Rush frontman Geddy Lee cites Blue Cheer as the first heavy metal band. The main riff from Jimi Hendrix's "Foxy Lady" has been inserted in various parts of this version.

Chart performance

Chart (1968)Peak
Dutch Singles Chart [23] 1
US Billboard Hot 100 [24] 14
Canadian Singles Chart [25] 3

The Who version

"Summertime Blues"
German single picture sleeve, 1970
Single by The Who
from the album Live at Leeds
B-side "Heaven and Hell"
ReleasedJune 1970 (1970-06)
Format 7-inch single
RecordedFebruary 14, 1970
Venue University Refectory, Leeds, UK
Genre Hard rock [26]
Producer(s) The Who
The Who singles chronology
"The Seeker"
"Summertime Blues"
"See Me, Feel Me"

The Who played "Summertime Blues" as a staple of their concerts from their early days up to 1976, with intermittent appearances thereafter. It has not been played since the death of bassist John Entwistle in 2002. It was performed during the 1967 US tour, from which the first known Who recordings of the song were made, including a June 1967 date at the Monterey Pop Festival.

The first version to be released by The Who appeared on the 1970 album Live at Leeds . The single from this album peaked at number 38 in the UK and number 27 in the US. [27]

Studio version

The Who recorded at least two studio versions of this track in 1967. They were left unreleased until 1998 and 2009, when they appeared on the remastered CD of Odds & Sods and the Deluxe Edition of The Who Sell Out respectively. Other live versions from the Who are featured in the Monterey Pop Festival CD box set and the concert and documentary film Woodstock (1970), as well as Live at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970 and the CD release of Live at the Royal Albert Hall.

Critical reception

Billboard magazine reviewed the song favorably, saying that The Who gave it a "wild updating" and was "certain to put them right up there at the top." [28]

Chart performance

Chart (1970)Peak
Canadian RPM Top Singles [29] 8
Dutch Singles Chart [30] 25
UK Singles Chart38
US Billboard Hot 100 27

T. Rex version

T. Rex recorded the song in 1970, using it as a standalone B-side to their breakthrough "Ride a White Swan" single. Further, "Summertime Blues" was frequently performed at T. Rex concerts from 1970 to 1972. Unlike the acoustic studio version, live performances of the song were always with electric guitars, as was the December 1970 version recorded for BBC Radio 1.

Mick Farren version

Mick Farren, former lead singer of The Deviants recorded the song in December 1969, releasing it on his 1970 solo album Mona – The Carnivorous Circus

Alan Jackson version

"Summertime Blues"
Summertime blues.jpg
Single by Alan Jackson
from the album Who I Am
B-side "Hole in the Wall"
ReleasedJune 6, 1994 (1994-06-06)
Format CD Single
RecordedJanuary 11, 1994 [31]
Genre Country
Length3:11 (album version)
Label Arista Nashville
Producer(s) Keith Stegall
Alan Jackson singles chronology
"(Who Says) You Can't Have It All"
"Summertime Blues"
"Livin' on Love"

American country music artist Alan Jackson recorded the song for his 1994 album, Who I Am . It was released in June 1994 as the lead single from the album and the song reached Number One on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart and number 4 on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 (equivalent to number 104 on the Billboard Hot 100). Jackson said that he was inspired by Buck Owens' version. [31]

Critical reception

Deborah Evans Price of Billboard magazine reviewed the song favorably, saying that Jackson "gives the oft-covered Eddie Cochran oldie the full, twangy 'Chattahoochee' treatment." She goes on to say that "until the vocal starts, you may not know which song you're listening to. But who cares?" She says that with his "signature laid-back vocal style, the long, tall Georgian turns this '50s teen anthem into a '90s country classic." [32] Kevin John Coyne of Country Universe reviewed the song unfavorably, saying that Jackson blatantly attempted to recreate the "Chattahoochee" phenomenon. He goes on to say that the "charm of the Eddie Cochran original is lost by forcing those country line-dance beats into the backing track." [33]

Music Video

The video was directed by Michael Salomon and was released in June 1994. Considered by Jackson as the "sequel" to his "Chattahoochee" video a year earlier, it was also the only video of his that Salomon directed. It begins with a shot of him water-skiing (which ends the "Chattahoochee" video) before transitioning to him and a band performing the song while seated in the bed of a pickup. Many 4-wheelers, ATVs and a limo full of middle-aged farmers are seen riding through the mud and getting stuck. Jackson, in a plain white t-shirt, is seen riding around in the mud in his pickup before getting out and walking in between many people fighting in the mud. However, he stays stainless until the very end, where he only gets one small spot of mud on the left side of his shirt before finally joining in the tussle. It ends with Jackson posing as a scarecrow.

Chart positions

"Summertime Blues" debuted at number 53 on the US Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks for the week of June 18, 1994.

Chart (1994)Peak
Canada Country Tracks ( RPM ) [34] 1
US Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles ( Billboard ) [35] 4
US Hot Country Songs ( Billboard ) [36] 1

Year-end charts

Chart (1994)Position
Canada Country Tracks ( RPM ) [37] 3
US Country Songs ( Billboard ) [38] 7

Johnny Hallyday version

"La Fille de l'été dernier"
Single by Johnny Hallyday
Released1975 (1975) (France)
Label Philips
Johnny Hallyday singles chronology
"Johnny Rider"
"La Fille de l'été dernier"
"La Terre promise"
Music video
"La Fille de l'été dernier" (INA archive, 1975) on YouTube

The song was covered in French by Johnny Hallyday. His version (titled "La Fille de l'été dernier") was released in 1975 and spent one week at no. 1 on the singles sales chart in France (from May 10 to 16, 1975). [39]


Chart (1975)Peak
France (singles sales) [39] 1

Rush version

"Summertime Blues"
Single by Rush
from the album Feedback
ReleasedApril 21, 2004 (2004-04-21)
Genre Hard rock
Rush singles chronology
"Secret Touch"
"Summertime Blues"
"Far Cry"

Canadian rock band Rush released their cover as a single on May 21, 2004. It was later released on their cover EP Feedback released two months later on 29 June. It appears as the first track on the EP.

Their version of "Summertime Blues" was also used as an official theme song for WWE's Summerslam PPV event in 2004.


Other cover versions

The Prophets, Levon Helm, Guitar Wolf, The Flying Lizards, Bobby Vee, The Crickets, Buck Owens, James Taylor, Joan Jett and The Blackhearts, The Ventures, Dick Dale, Robert Gordon with Link Wray, Skid Row, T. Rex, Brian Setzer, MC5, Alex Chilton, Hep Stars and Marty Wilde have also covered the song. [42]

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