|Single by Elvis Presley|
|from the album Jailhouse Rock|
|"Treat Me Nice"|
|Released||September 24, 1957|
|Recorded||April 30, 1957|
|Studio||Radio Recorders, Hollywood, California|
|Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller|
|Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller|
|Elvis Presley singles chronology|
"Jailhouse Rock" is a song written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller that first became a hit for Elvis Presley. RCA Victor released the song on a 45 rpm single on September 24, 1957, the song had a film release of Presley's motion picture under the same name, Jailhouse Rock.
Rolling Stone magazine included it at number 67 on its list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and was named one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. In 2004, it finished at number 21 on AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs survey of top tunes in American cinema. On November 27, 2016, the Grammy Hall of Fame announced its induction, along with that of another 24 songs.
Presley's performance of the song in the film, choreographed as a dance routine involving himself and a large group of male prisoners, was featured among other classic MGM musical numbers in the 1994 documentary That's Entertainment! III. The film version differs from the single version of the song, featuring backing instrumentation and vocals not heard on the record.
Some of the characters named in the song are real people. Shifty Henry was a well-known LA musician, not a criminal. The Purple Gang was a real mob. "Sad Sack" was a U.S. Army nickname in World War II for a loser, which also became the name of a popular comic strip and comic book character.
According to Rolling Stone, Leiber and Stoller's "theme song for Presley's third movie was decidedly silly, the kind of tongue-in-cheek goof they had come up with for The Coasters. The King, however, sang it as straight rock & roll, overlooking the jokes in the lyrics (like the suggestion of gay romance when inmate Number 47 tells Number 3, 'You're the cutest jailbird I ever did see') and then introducing Scotty Moore's guitar solo with a cry so intense that the take almost collapses." Gender studies scholars cite the song for "its famous reference to homoerotics behind bars," while music critic Garry Mulholland writes, "'Jailhouse Rock' was always a queer lyric, in both senses." Douglas Brode writes of the filmed production number that it's "amazing that the sequence passed by the censors".
The single, with its B-side "Treat Me Nice" (another song from the film's soundtrack) was a US number one hit for seven weeks in the fall of 1957, and a UK number one hit for three weeks early in 1958. It was the first record to enter the UK charts at number one. In addition, "Jailhouse Rock" spent one week at the top of the US country charts, and reached the number one position on the R&B chart.
Also in 1957, "Jailhouse Rock" was the lead song in an EP (extended play single), together with other songs from the film, namely "Young and Beautiful," "I Want to be Free," "Don't Leave Me Now," and "(You're So Square) Baby I Don't Care" (but with "Treat Me Nice" omitted). It topped the Billboard EP charts, eventually selling two million copies and earning a double-platinum RIAA certification.
In 2005, the song was re-released in the UK and reached number one for a single week, when it became the lowest-selling number one in UK history.
Sales and certifications
The Beatles regularly performed "Jailhouse Rock" starting in 1958 (as The Quarrymen) and continuing all the way through 1960 with John Lennon on lead vocal; no recording is known to survive.Quarryman Len Garry (in his book "John, Paul & Me - Before The Beatles" p. 168) states that the group actually started performing the song in 1957.
"Jailhouse Rock" was performed regularly in a medley along with many old rock and roll hits by Queen as early as 1970 and was the opening song on Queen's 1979 Crazy Tour and the 1980 North American tour for The Game.
It is the last song in the motion picture The Blues Brothers. The song is featured in the 1995 film Casper and the 2006 animated television film Leroy & Stitch. American Idol Season 5 contestant Taylor Hicks performed it on May 9, 2006, and Season 7 contestant Danny Noriega performed it on February 20, 2008. In an episode of Full House, Jesse and Becky sing this song at their wedding reception. In an episode of Riverdale, The River Vixens performing the song outside of the Leopold and Loeb Juvenile Detention Center, where Archie Andrews (played by KJ Apa) is in front of the prisoners.
In 1975 ZZ Top covered Jailhouse Rock on their fourth album, Fandango!
Swiss artists Bo Katzman (de) and the Soul Cats cover the song as Jailhouse Rap on their 1990 CD The Wonderful World of the Soul Cats in a mash up/medley with Rock Everybody by M. Davis/J. Josea and Tutti Frutti. The song is unrelated to the similarly named Fat Boys' song.
Figure skating world champion Javier Fernández performed part of his Elvis Presley free program to "Jailhouse Rock" during the 2016-17 season, when he won his 5th consecutive European Championships gold medal. The program also included sections of "Trouble" and "Fever".