Rock and Roll
The song “All Shook Up” was written by Otis Blackwell. One of the owners of Blackwell’s publishing company Shalamar Music was urging Blackwell to write a follow-up hit to “Don’t Be Cruel.” The story behind the song goes something like this. One day around this time, Black was sitting at a desk at his publisher’s office. Someone asked if he wanted a Coke from the machine down the hall. When the person gave it to him, the Coke slipped out of his hands and landed (bubbling away) on the floor. The person retrieved it and handed it to Otis, but he said, “I Can’t drink it now ’cause it’s all shook up.”
The song went to #1 on the U.S. Top 100 Singles Chart, R&B Chart, and Country Chart in 1957. It was also the first #1 hit in the U.K. for Elvis. Since then, “All Shook Up” has gone on to be certified as 2x platinum by the RIAA. It is also listed in Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Songs of All Time.”
One anecdote about “All Shook Up” comes from Gordon Stoker, who was the tenor for The Jordanaires. The group often backed up Elvis, but on “All Shook Up, ” it was only Stoker providing harmonies here and there. This included the refrain where they sing “Uh-uh huh, uh-huh, yay-yay, I’m all shook up.” Stoker said that he and Elvis sat on stools facing each other with a single microphone between them. They sang the harmonies in perfect sync throughout the take that was finally used, but on the last “yay-yay” Elvis tricked him by changing the timing of his delivery and smiled as he watched Stoker’s nervous expression. Stoker said he always remembered that moment whenever hearing the song over the years, and it’s very easy to notice it at the end of the record.
The stories around the rise of Elvis are fun ones. Here was this daydreaming teenager hanging around a soda fountain in Memphis, drinking a shake, listening to the jukebox, waiting for his cousin to get off work. And he goes on to become an American icon by gathering up and interpreting different strands of American music. He is the best-selling solo artist in recorded music history. His work includes several genres, including rockabilly, rock and roll, pop, country, blues, gospel, and R&B.