Mohan is a family physician, film and TV aficionado, a keen bibliophile and an eclectic scribbler.
I found my thrill...
I found my thrill
On Blueberry hill
On Blueberry hill
when I found you...
The simplest lyrics can sometimes result in the catchiest of tunes. Mellow and memorable, musically malleable - these tunes transcend time and continue to delight artists and listeners alike.
So whether you've ever found your thrill on a blueberry hill ( One Music publisher turned down the song castigating the songwriter that blueberries don't grow on hills!) or not, there's no mistaking the sweet melody.
Although famously a Fats Domino classic.. there have been many who have covered the song before and after the popular singer.
Popularised by many, hits for a few, a standard staple of the forties and fifties hit parades, Blueberry Hill is a worthy contender for our ongoing series on Best cover songs.
Glen Miller Orchestra with Ray Eberle ( vocals at 1:05)
The Forties Hit
'Blueberry Hill' was written by two New York lyricists Al Lewis and Larry Stock and set to music by Vincent Rose. It was first published in 1940 and was a major hit in the dancehall circuits. So popular was its launch that it was recorded six times in the same year.
There is an urban myth that the song is named after a popular 'making out' spot in Taos, Texas. The songwriters confirm that there is no such link and the words were made up for simple rhyming.
The very first recorded version is from Sammy Kaye Orchestra with vocals by Tommy Ryan for Victor Records. This was released on May 31, 1940 with the song 'Maybe' on the flip side.
So popular was the song that within weeks various other orchestra started to release their own version. Gene Krupa and his orchestra released theirs in June, 1940 as did Nat Brandywynne with vocals by Mary Small - both for Okeh Records.
Singers such as Russ Morgan, Connee Boswell, Kay Kyser and Jimmy Dorsey also recorded their own renditions of Blueberry Hill in the same year.
It was Glen Miller who took it to number one with his orchestra along with vocals by Ray Eberle for Bluebird records.
Gene Autry - first recorded version
The Singing Cowboy
Orvon Grover Autry known to us all as Gene Autry was the all american 'singing cowboy'. He conquered Radio, Television and Films for over three decades from 1930s to the sixties with his distinctive vocals and signature style. Autry was so successful he owned his own radio and TV stations and produced highly successful eponymous shows.
A proponent of country music, his straight talking, wholesome hero persona was so popular that he touched millions of lives with his media penetration. He is also the only person who has been awarded stars in the Hollywood walk of fame for all five categories - Radio, TV, Films, Recording Music and Live Performance.
Autry owned the major league baseball team Los Angeles/California/Anaheim Angels and was one of the richest men in America of his time.
In his 1941 film 'The Singing Hill' Autry sang 'Blueberry Hill' ensuring further, the song's success and longevity.
Louis Armstrong - performance of Blueberry Hill
Louis Armstrong was a larger than life singer. His colourful anecdotes, improvised style of singing, groundbreaking trumpet/cornet playing and his memorably gravelly voice have been highly influential in the worldwide music scene.
Fondly nicknamed satchmo, Armstrong was fond of making up many colourful stories for his nickname. He said in his poverty ridden childhood in New Orleans, he would carry coins in his mouth to avoid them being stolen by bigger kids, earning him the name Satchel mouth. In other circumstances he said it was because of his voluminous lips and singing style.
Louis brought his own unique vocals to Blueberry Hill in 1949. The song charted at no.29 in the billboard top 40.
Armstrong was famous for his 'scat singing' where he used sounds instead of words and made up melodies. He had total command over his tune. He was able to lengthen or shorten phrases, give distinct enunciation and make every song his own.
Antoine 'Fats' Domino - Blueberry Hill
Like Satchmo, Antoine Dominique 'Fats' Domino Jr. was born and raised in New Orleans. He went on to become a highly successful R&B singer- song writer and rock and roll pianist. He has had over 37 top 40 singles and has sold several million copies of his songs.
'Ain't that a shame' , 'Whole Lotta loving', 'I'm walking' all were top ten chart successes. His biggest success and the song he would be forever associated with is his rendition of Blueberry Hill in 1956.
The song charted to no.2 in the Billboard charts and went to no.1 in the R&B charts. It sold over 5 million copies worldwide. It still is the most popular version of the song played everywhere.
Blueberry Hill in 40s and 50s
Elvis singing Blueberry Hill
Little Richards bombastic Rock and roll version
Elvis, Little Richard & Bill Haley
Since Fats Domino's 1956 revival, the song was consistently recorded almost every year by popular artists. Elvis Presley recorded it in 1957 with his mellow husky vocals.
Little Richard put a unique rock and roll spin on the classic and made it his own in 1958.
Others such as Ricky Nelson ('58) Andy Williams ('59), Duane Eddy ('59), Conway Twitty ('59) followed suit.
Bill Haley & His Comets who had a worldwide hit with 'Rock around the clock' ( It sold over 25 million copies!) recorded their version of Blueberry Hill in 1960.
Russ Morgan Orchestra with Carol Kaye - Blueberry Hill
Brenda Lee - Blueberry Hill
Skeeter Davis- Blueberry Hill
The Feminine Take
No to be outdone by the sheer testosterone whiff of all the other versions, Female singers brought in their mellifluous take on Blueberry Hill.
The very first female vocal was perhaps from Carol Kaye in the 1941 recording by Russ Morgan Orchestra. This was a more traditional orchestrated rendering of the song. There is a certain nostalgia to the scratchy vinyl backdrop to Carol's version - calm, serene and classic.
Popular Country & Western and Pop singer Brenda Lee came in with her rendition of Blueberry Hill in the sixties. This is a more pop/ rock and roll version with a catchy riff. It has a certain bounce in its step, inviting us to dance along and bop.
Popular Country & Western singer Mary Frances Penick aka Skeeter Davis did her version in 1961. Her cross over appeal and popularity in the sixties gave her several number one hits and Grammy nominations.
In the seventies Loretta Lynn ('71) did a version as did the popular side guitarist and singer Ellen McIlwaine ('75).
Ellen McIlwaine - Blueberry Hill
Choose your favourite...
John Barry Orchestra - Blueberry Hill
Cliff Richard - Blueberry Hill
International Appeal - UK
It is inevitable that this all American song has an enormous international following and crossover appeal.
From United Kingdom, it was popular composer John Barry and his orchestra who first ventured into Blueberry Hill for their instrumental take of the song in 1960.
The British rock & roll singer and teenage heartthrob Cliff Richard styled himself on Little Richard and Elvis. He gained enormous popularity with his backing group The Shadows. They brought out a version of the song in 1962.
The popularity of the song continued well into the eighties when English glamrock band, Mud, brought out a version in 1982.
In the 2007 tribute album Goin' home: A Tribute to Fats Domino, Elton John sings his version of Blueberry Hill.
Mud- Blueberry Hill
Elton John singing Blueberry Hill
The Loved Ones - Blueberry Hill
Adriano Celentano- Blueberry Hill
Johnny Hallyday & Celine Dion- Blueberry Hill
Popkoor Horlecante - Blueberry Hill
Vladimir Putin does Blueberry Hill
International Appeal - others
Australian rock band The Loved Ones brought out their version of Blueberry Hill. Their debut single ' The Loved One' has been listed as one of the all time top 30 hit songs in Australia. They released Blueberry Hill as an EP in December 1966.
Another singer influenced by the Elvis legacy is Adriano Celentano, one of the all time best selling male artists in Italy. This Milanese singer has been selling millions of records over the past 40 years and has gained enormous popularity with his albums and TV appearances.
His version of Blueberry Hill was released in 1977.
Iconic French rock and roll singer Jean Philippe -Smet aka Johnny Hallyday is the 'biggest rock and roll star you've never heard of'. He is popular in France and French Canada and has sold over 100 million records. Hallyday has done a revival of Blueberry Hill as duets with other singers including Chris Isaak and Celine Dion. Don't miss Celine's leg-air-guitar playing in this clip!
Popkoor Horlecante is a Belgian choral group that have stormed their country with their renditions of popular hits in choir format. Their selections of past and current hits is called HITstory and in February 2013 they released their fourth collection of this series. Their version of Blueberry Hill is from 2009.
Two years ago, at a charity gala, Russian President Vladimir Putin let rip his version of Blueberry Hill. Watch some overenthusiastic film and TV stars clapping along to this brave but tortured rendition by the President. Their expressions and smiles show why they are actors! The video went viral all over the interweb. True to his rabble rousing speeches, Putin just doesn't just storm the song but invades and decimates Blueberry Hill.
Twelve Monkeys Blueberry Hill sequence
Many of you who have enjoyed the sitcom Happy Days know that Blueberry hill is Richie Cunningham's wishful song, for all the pretty girls he wishes to date. Here in this memorable sequence, the cast join in to a rendition of Blueberry Hill in the diner.
The song also features as a recurring riff in Terry Gilliam's Time Travel thriller Twelve Monkeys starring Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt.
There are many others who have covered the song and I've merely captured the variety and worldwide appeal of this evergreen melody. Hope you enjoyed this. Do visit the other hubs in this series if like me, you love music and its history.
Sarah Redwood on November 24, 2016:
It's difficult to pick a favourite from all these, I've always been a fan of the Fats version, but I also found this one recently which is really good by a guy called Lenny: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6CW4J3Hhsw
Mohan Kumar (author) from UK on October 06, 2014:
Thanks for all your comments- @ earn Stroud what a wonderful memory you have shared with us here. The image of so,diets singing Blueberry Hill as the sky darkens with the Blitz is an enduring one!
ern stroud on October 06, 2014:
I can remember Blueberry Hill during the second world war. My twin brother and I was in Canterbury (Kent England), we were in for a tonsillectomy, there were soldiers there that were wounded from Dunkirk, and THE SONG was playing, some of the soldiers were singing it, I thought it was fantastic and still do, I am now eighty. (WE had the Blitz that night) We survived, my brother still lives in Kent, I live in Sydney Australia.
Steve on December 18, 2013:
what about Ricky May's version - best I've heard
drbj and sherry from south Florida on June 02, 2013:
Thanks, Docmo, for sharing all this very interesting history about 'Blueberry Hill.' So many new facts and groups who were involved. Fun to learn. Who knew?
Kathi from Saugatuck Michigan on May 22, 2013:
The Fats Dominon version just has that unforgettable piano rhythm, but oh my gosh, who knew there were that many versions and from around the world! Now I have Blueberry Hill stuck in my head! It really does contain sweet lyrics! Thanks for the smile you put on my face! Kathi ♥
Vickiw on May 19, 2013:
Beautiful Hub Mohan, I just so admire your skills when you compose and design these pieces of artistry. Fats is my man too, although Louis is pretty nice . . . Lovely, and I wish this was my style !
Mohan Kumar (author) from UK on May 19, 2013:
@Janine: what a great association. The Happy Days links was a delightful one. I'm glad this brought home some memories. thank you!
@Peg: I am sure you were a wee nipper when this played on the radio :-) Glad you found this entertaining- thank you!
@Ruby: Fats was definitely the one who put this on the worldwide listening map. I'm glad this brought back memories. Thanks for visiting.
Mohan Kumar (author) from UK on May 19, 2013:
@teaches12345- Glad you had some fun Dianne, I 've had this tune in my head all week too!
@Daisy- thank you. Fat's version is the definitive one but I too was surprised how many covers there were.
@Shauna: Glad this brought a smile to your face and a touch of nostalgia. Great song, simple lyrics and the tune is open to so many interpretations... appreciate your visit and comment.
always exploring on May 19, 2013:
This is one of the most entertaining hubs. I love it. I remember the first time i heard Blueberry Hill, my sis. Bea bought the record and almost wore it out. It was Fats Domino. I was unaware that Elvis recorded it, i like it too, but Fats was the best, and of course i love anything Elton sings. Thank you for a wonderful share and i will share it too..Cheers..
Peg Cole from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on May 19, 2013:
Much as I don't want to admit it, I remember this tune from listening to the radio in my childhood. I had no idea how popular it had been throughout the years and the number of recording artists who gave it new life. Of course my favorite was Fats Domino. Very interesting and entertaining article. For some reason, the name "The Ink Spots" comes to mind also.
Janine Huldie from New York, New York on May 19, 2013:
Totally loved the Fats Domino version, because oddly enough my husband was always told he looked like Richie Cunningham from Happy Days era and would joke that this was his anthem when we were dating. I have such a special place in my heart for this one, because of that. But seriously didn't realize how many covers were of this one and thank you for sharing and educating me a bit here, Docmo!! Have, of course, voted up and shared, too!!
Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on May 19, 2013:
Doc, I spent almost an hour going thru this hub. It's very well researched and entertaining. First, I'd like to mention that I had no idea of Gene Autry's wealth and how far his presence spread. I also had no idea this song originated in 1940! I associate this song with Fats Domino, probably because I was born in 1957. And Little Richard? I love him! I used to dance my ass off to his music! Lastly, I'd like to comment on your usage of the word "bombastic". I thought that word was exclusive to people who lived in Philly in the '60s. Awesome!
This hub definitely brought a smile to my face and brought back great memories. Thank you so much!
Daisy Mariposa from Orange County (Southern California) on May 18, 2013:
Wow! I hadn't realized there were so many covers of Blueberry Hill. Thanks for taking the time to do all the research, and thanks for writing so terrific an article.
It was before my time, but like Dianna (teaches12345), I vote for the Fats Domino version.
Dianna Mendez on May 18, 2013:
This was fun to read. I vote for Fats on the song. Now I have this tune in my head!