|Single by Chuck Berry|
|A-side||"Back in the U.S.A."|
|Recorded||September 26, 1958|
|Genre||Rhythm and blues, rock and roll|
|Chuck Berry singles chronology|
"Memphis, Tennessee", sometimes shortened to "Memphis", is a song by Chuck Berry, first released in 1959. In the UK, the song charted at number 6 in 1963; at the same time Decca Records issued a cover version in the UK by Dave Berry and the Cruisers, which also became a UK Top 20 hit single. Johnny Rivers's version of the song was a number two US hit in 1964.
In the song the narrator is speaking to a long-distance operator, trying to find out the number of a girl named Marie, who lives in Memphis, Tennessee, "on the southside, high upon a ridge, just a half a mile from the Mississippi bridge." The narrator offers little information to the operator at first, only that he misses Marie and that they were separated by Marie's mother. The final verse reveals that Marie is, in fact, the narrator's six-year-old daughter; her mother, presumably the narrator's ex-wife, "tore apart our happy home" because she "did not agree", as it turned out, with their marriage, not his relationship with Marie, as the listener was misdirected to assume. This song was recorded in St. Louis at Chuck Berry's home, in July 1958.
The song was released as Chess single 1729.
Chuck Berry later composed a sequel, "Little Marie", which appeared in 1964 as a single and on the album St. Louis to Liverpool.
The Beatles recorded five versions of "Memphis, Tennessee", for BBC Radio. One version that was recorded on July 30, 1963, for the Pop Go The Beatles radio show was included on Live at the BBC in 1994. Another version that was recorded a few months later on October 5, 1963, for the Saturday Club radio show was included on On Air – Live at the BBC Volume 2 in 2013.
The group first performed it for their failed Decca audition on January 1, 1962, with Pete Best on drums.
|Single by Lonnie Mack|
|from the album The Wham of that Memphis Man!|
|B-side||"Down in the Dumps"|
|Genre||Instrumental rock, blues rock|
In 1963, guitarist Lonnie Mack recorded a fast-paced instrumental version, which he called "Memphis". It went to number 5 on Billboard's Pop chart and number 4 on Billboard's R&B chart.
|Single by Johnny Rivers|
|from the album At the Whisky à Go Go|
|B-side||"It Wouldn't Happen with Me"|
|Venue||Whisky a Go Go, West Hollywood|
|Genre||Rock and roll, rhythm and blues|
In 1964 singer Johnny Rivers recorded another version of the tune (which he, following Mack, called "Memphis"), copying Mack's pacing and some of his instrumental improvisations, and reinstating the vocal line from Berry's original. This version hit number 2 on Billboard's Pop chart.
|Single by Fred Knoblock|
|Label||Scotti Brothers ZS5 02434|
In 1981, country singer-songwriter Fred Knoblock recorded his rendition of "Memphis". It went to number 10 on Billboard's Country chart and number 28 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary chart.
The song has been covered over 200 times by musical artists. The most notable examples include Bernd Spier who hit number 1 in 1964 in Germany.