"Teardrops from My Eyes", written by Rudy Toombs, was the first upbeat major hit for Ruth Brown, establishing her as an important figure in rhythm and blues. Recorded for Atlantic Records in New York City in September 1950, and released in October, it was Billboards number-one R&B hit for 11 non-consecutive weeks. It was Atlantic's first release on the new 45-rpm record format. The huge hit earned Brown the nickname "Miss Rhythm" and within a few months she became the acknowledged queen of R&B. "Teardrops from My Eyes" was her first of five number-one R&B hits.
Before this hit single, Ruth Brown was thought of strictly as a torch singer. When Ruby Toombs showed her the song Brown was initially reluctant to do it as it was so rhythmically different from the popular standards and ballads she was comfortable singing. The change of tempo, the backbeat of four/four, at first led her to dig in her heels. But Ahmet Ertegün, sensing the time was right, urged her to give the song a try and so she went along with his choice of tunes for her. The song featured a tenor solo by Budd Johnson.
Atlantic used a process that it would repeat over the years, that is, turning an uptown singer funky. As with Ruth Brown, Ahmet Ertegün's method was to introduce popular black musical artists to older and more powerful black musical modes.