“Blue Velvet” was almost a standard when Bobby Vinton recorded it in 1963. At this point in time, it had been done by many artists, but none of them had had a number one. Tony Bennett was the first to record the song in 1951. It was written by Bernie Wayne who worked as a songwriter for Columbia Records. He was at a party and saw a woman walk in dressed in blue velvet. The song just came to him. When he pitched it to Mitch Miller (Columbia’s A&R guy,) Mitch listened to the first line and told him he would give it to Tony Bennett. That’s all it took, one line.
In 1955, the R&B group, the Clovers recorded the song and the song hit number fourteen on the R&B chart.
This was not Bobby Vinton’s first hit. He had been on the chart seven times before “Blue Velvet” came along. He liked color, since “Roses Are Red (My Love)” hit number one back in 1962. In 1963, he was a blue mood, so he recorded an album of songs that all had the word blue in them. There was “Blue on Blue,” written by Hal David and Burt Bacharach, which was released as a single earlier in 1963 and peaked at number three. Also, “Blueberry Hill,” “Mr. Blue,” “Am I Blue,” “Blue Moon” and many others, all with blue in the title. The album was first called “Blue on Blue” and that should have been enough for it to sell, but it didn’t even crack the Billboard Top 200 albums. When “Blue Velvet” hit number one, they changed the name of the album to that, “Blue Velvet,” and the album rose to number ten on the album chart.
The song was recorded in two takes and Billy thought that was good enough. The musicians who played on the single included such greats as Floyd Cramer, Boots Randolph, Grady Martin and Charlie McCoy, all of whom are famous in their own right. He didn’t have a lot of confidence in the song, thinking one of the other songs on the album would be the hit. Billy said the kids wanted rock songs and this was too mushy for them. But, he was wrong.
“Blue Velvet” entered pop charts on August 24, 1963 and it was just four weeks later on September 21 that it hit number one where it stayed for three weeks.
I think this is the album version of the song. It’s longer than normal and the instrumental interlude is pretty long. It’s great to hear the long version.