Label of the 1958 US single
|Single by Eddie Cochran|
|Recorded||March 28, 1958|
|Studio||Gold Star Studios, Hollywood, California|
|Genre||Rock and roll, rockabilly|
|Eddie Cochran singles chronology|
"Summertime Blues" is a song co-written and recorded by American rockabilly artist Eddie Cochran. It was written by Cochran and his manager Jerry Capehart. Originally a single B-side, it was released in August 1958 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 Blue Cheer, The Who, 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.
The song is about the struggle between a teenager and his parents, his boss and his congressman.
"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.
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. The song is also on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum list of "The Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll". The song appears on the soundtrack for the movie Caddyshack, as well as opening season 4 of Beverly Hills, 90210.
|Austrian Singles Chart||18|
|Canadian Singles Chart||10|
|Rhodesian Singles Chart (1968)||12|
|South African Singles Chart (1968)||18|
|UK Singles Chart||18|
|UK Singles Chart (1968)||34|
|US Billboard Hot 100||8|
|Song by the Beach Boys|
|from the album Surfin' Safari|
|Released||October 1, 1962|
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.
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. 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. In December it peaked at No. 30 on the Kent Music Report.
Netherlands single picture sleeve, 1968
|Single by Blue Cheer|
|from the album Vincebus Eruptum|
|"Out of Focus"|
|Abe "Voco" Kesh|
|Blue Cheer singles chronology|
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. It topped the Dutch charts for one week in 1968. 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. 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.
|Dutch Singles Chart||1|
|US Billboard Hot 100||14|
|Canadian Singles Chart||3|
German single picture sleeve, 1970
|Single by The Who|
|from the album Live at Leeds|
|"Heaven and Hell"|
|Recorded||February 14, 1970|
|Venue||University of Leeds Refectory, Leeds, UK|
|The Who singles chronology|
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 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.
|Canadian RPM Top Singles||8|
|Dutch Singles Chart||25|
|UK Singles Chart||38|
|US Billboard Hot 100||27|
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.
|Single by Alan Jackson|
|from the album Who I Am|
|"Hole in the Wall"|
|Released||June 6, 1994|
|Recorded||January 11, 1994|
|Length||3:11 (album version)|
|Alan Jackson singles chronology|
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.
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." 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."
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.
"Summertime Blues" debuted at number 53 on the US Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks for the week of June 18, 1994.
|Canada Country Tracks (RPM)||1|
|US Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles (Billboard)||4|
|US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)||1|
|"La Fille de l'été dernier"|
|Single by Johnny Hallyday|
|Johnny Hallyday singles chronology|
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).
|France (singles sales)||1|
|Single by Rush|
|from the album Feedback|
|Released||April 21, 2004|
|Rush singles chronology|
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.
|Canada Rock Top 30 (Radio & Records)||12|
|US Mainstream Rock (Billboard)||30|
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, MC5, Alex Chilton, Hep Stars and Marty Wilde have also covered the song.