'That's All Right' and the father of rock and roll

Feb 1, 2013

Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup has been called the “father of rock and roll” for writing the song that launched Elvis Presley’s career. His own career had a rough start-- after migrating from Mississippi around 1940, he was living on the Chicago streets, playing for tips.

His unique, though unpolished sound was distinctive enough to land him a record deal, and he had several songs on the mid-40’s r & b charts. Despite the success of his songs, he was never paid fairly for the music he composed and worked as a laborer to support his family.

Here’s Arthur Crudup from a documentary talking about his time in the music business:

Elvis Presley’s 1954 recording of “That’s All Right”was kind of a fluke. They were in the studio to record another song when he and the band (Scotty Moore & Bill Black) were messing around with “That’s All Right” and producer Sam Phillips heard something he liked, and got it on tape. It would be Elvis’s first single and the song that started his road to stardom. Here’s Elvis live from 1968:

Guitarist Michael Bloomfield was on the cutting edge of electric and psychedelic blues of the mid to late 60’s. He played with Paul Butterfield and Electric Flag, and when Bob Dylan “went electric” at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival, Bloomfield was playing guitar. He recorded “That’s All Right” in 1968 with keyboardist Al Kooper.

Arthur Crudup’s sons James, Jonas and George played with their father and as The Crudup Brothers, cutting an album in 2000 that featured many of his compositions. Here’s a clip of the whole family performing together:

Here are the complete versions of “That’s All Right”:

Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup  “That’s All Right Mama” 1946

Elvis Presley “That’s All Right” 1954

Michael Bloomfield & Al Kooper “That’s All Right” 1968

Crudup Brothers “That’s All Right” 2000