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Jailhouse Rock (song)

"Jailhouse Rock"
Single by Elvis Presley
from the album Jailhouse Rock
B-side "Treat Me Nice"
Released September 24, 1957
Format 45 rpm single, 78 rpm single
Recorded April 30, 1957, Radio Recorders, Hollywood, California
Genre Rock and roll, rockabilly[1]
Length 2:26
Writer(s) Leiber/Stoller
Producer(s) Leiber/Stoller
Elvis Presley singles chronology
"(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear" (June 11, 1957) "Jailhouse Rock"
(September 24, 1957)
"Don't" (January 7, 1958)
Elvis Presley's "Jailhouse Rock" from the 1957 film Jailhouse Rock

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"Jailhouse Rock" is a song written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller that first became a hit for Elvis Presley. The song was released as a 45rpm single on September 24, 1957, to coincide with the release of Presley's motion picture, Jailhouse Rock.

The song as recorded by Elvis Presley is #67 on Rolling Stone's list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time[2] 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 #21 on AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs survey of top tunes in American cinema.

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.


  • Characters and themes 1
  • Releases and chart performance 2
  • Charts and certifications 3
    • Weekly charts 3.1
    • Year-End charts 3.2
    • Sales and certifications 3.3
  • Covers and references 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Characters and themes

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."[3] Gender studies scholars cite the song for "its famous reference to homoerotics behind bars,"[4] while music critic Garry Mulholland writes, "'Jailhouse Rock' was always a queer lyric, in both senses."[5] Douglas Brode writes of the filmed production number that it's "amazing that the sequence passed by the censors".[6]

Releases and chart performance

The single, with its B-side "Treat Me Nice" (another song from the film's soundtrack) was a US #1 hit for seven weeks in the fall of 1957, and a UK #1 hit for three weeks early in 1958. It was the first record to enter the UK charts at No. 1.[7] In addition, "Jailhouse Rock" spent one week at the top of the US country charts,[8] and reached the No. 2 position on the R&B chart.[9]

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 No. 1 for a single week, when it became the lowest-selling number 1 in UK history, and the first to enter at No. 1 twice.

Charts and certifications

Covers and references

"Jailhouse Rock" was performed regularly in a medley along with many old rock and roll hits by Queen as early as 1970[26] and was the opening song on Queen's 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 direct-to-video animated 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. The song was used on Dancing with the Stars for four different jives by Lisa Rinna, Lil' Kim, Tommy Chong and Alek Skarlatos. The song is included in the musical revue Smokey Joe's Cafe. In the 1995 movie Casper (film) Dr. Harvey sings "Jailhouse Rock" at a bar.

The German rock band Spider Murphy Gang is named after one of the characters in the lyrics.

In Stephen King's novel Christine, "Jailhouse Rock" is playing when the car runs down Buddy Repperton, one of the guys who smashed up the car at the garage.

American rock and roll revival act Sha Na Na performed "Jailhouse Rock" live at the Woodstock Festival in August 1969.

American band Journey frequently covered this song during their 1986 Raised on Radio Tour.

Westlife performed the song for the medley part of their Where the Dreams Come True Tour.

Chris Brown covered the song at the 2007 Movie's Rock.

Scenes from the music video of the Eminem's "We Made You" are based the "Jailhouse Rock" production number from the Elvis film.

Scratch Track added this song to their live performance of "Love Someone."

Dwayne Johnson performed a parody of the song that pokes fun at his Wrestlemania XXVIII opponent John Cena during the Rock Concert on an episode of WWE Raw in March 2012. WWE later released this version on iTunes as "Rock's Concert".

Scenes from the music video of the One Direction single Kiss You are based on the "Jailhouse Rock" production number from the Elvis film.[27]

Bruce Springsteen covered the song twice with the E Street Band.

Kids Incorporated covered "Jailhouse Rock" in 1985 in the Season 2 episode "A Pain in the Neck".

"Jailhouse Rock" has also been recorded by:


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Jailhouse Rock". In Rolling Stone, December 9, 2004.
  4. ^ Philip Brett, Elizabeth Wood and Gary Thomas, Queering the Pitch: The New Gay and Lesbian Musicology (Routledge, 2006), p.363.
  5. ^ Garry Mulholland, Popcorn: Fifty Years of Rock'n'Roll Movies (Orion Books, 2010).
  6. ^ Douglas Brode, Elvis Cinema and Popular Culture (McFarland & Co., 2006), p.46.
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ Billboard December 16, 1957. page 61
  10. ^ a b
  11. ^ " – Elvis Presley – Jailhouse Rock" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved March 3, 2013.
  12. ^ "Elvis Presley: Jailhouse Rock" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland. Retrieved March 3, 2013.
  13. ^ a b c
  14. ^ a b c d e
  15. ^ " – Elvis Presley – Jailhouse Rock" (in French). Ultratop 50. Retrieved March 3, 2013.
  16. ^ a b " – Elvis Presley – Jailhouse Rock" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved March 3, 2013.
  17. ^ a b " – Elvis Presley – (You're the) Devil in Disguise". Singles Top 60. Retrieved March 3, 2013.
  18. ^ "3, 1977/ Archive Chart: September 3, 1977" UK Singles Chart. Retrieved March 3, 2013.
  19. ^ "Chart Track: Week 1, 2005". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved March 3, 2013.
  20. ^ " – Elvis Presley – Jailhouse Rock" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved March 3, 2013.
  21. ^ " – Elvis Presley – Jailhouse Rock". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved March 3, 2013.
  22. ^ "15, 2005/ Archive Chart: January 15, 2005" UK Singles Chart. Retrieved March 3, 2013.
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  25. ^ If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH
  26. ^
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External links

  • Full audio of the song on YouTube
  • Full lyrics of this song at MetroLyrics
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