“That’s All Right” was the first single of Elvis’s storied career. Recorded at Sun Studio in Memphis, Tennessee, the track was released in 1954 and is considered by some to be the first rock single ever released. Written by Arthur Crudup as “That’s All Right, Mama,” Elvis’s single omitted the word “Mama” from the title, though as you can see in the video from his 1968 NBC special, he did occasionally announce it as “That’s All Right, Mama” during live performances. As guitarist Scotty Moore tells it, the song’s recording happened nearly by accident. Elvis, Moore, and bassist Bill Black were messing around at Sun Studio at the tail end of a recording session with producer Sam Phillips. Just before they were about to pack up, Elvis stood up and launched into “That’s All Right.” After the trio had jammed on the tune for a while, Phillips popped his head into the studio and asked them to get back onto the mics. Then they laid down the historic single.
“That’s All Right” is a fairly straightforward three-chord strummer. Try the alternate bass strumming pattern shown below throughout the song. Moore added colorful lead licks up the neck like the one shown below, playing with a thumbpick and fingers. His embellishments on the D and E chords sometimes imply seventh chords and extended versions of each chord shape. You can add some of this harmony to your rhythm playing by using D7 and E7 chords instead of the standard D and E shapes that Elvis strummed. —Andrew DuBrock
Due to copyright restrictions, we are unable to post notation or tablature for this musical work. If you have a digital or physical copy of the June 2010 issue of Acoustic Guitar magazine, you will find the music on page 18.