“Wake Up Little Susie,” was only the second Everly Brothers song to hit the pop chart. Their first was “Bye, Bye Love” and it reached number two. One point higher and that song would be part of this project. “Bye Bye Love” did hit number one on the country chart, where it stayed for seven weeks,so if ever there is a number one project for country music, it will be included.
Don and Phil had come to Nashville in search of a recording contract and after several misfires, got on with Cadence Records. Their father, Ike Everly, was a musician and knew people in the industry. He arranged an appointment with Chet Atkins, the famous guitar player and that kicked off their career. Don had written a song called “Thou Shall Not Steal” and sent it to Atkins, who gave it to Kitty Wells to record. Wells hit number 14 on the country chart with the song and this made a big impression on Chet Atkins.
After two or three flops, the boys recorded “Bye Bye Love” and, as I said it hit number two. They followed that up with “Wake Up Little Susie” which was their first number one song. Both “Bye, Bye Love” and “Wake Up Little Susie” were written by Boudleaux and Felice Bryant, a husband wife team who penned many popular country and pop songs in the fifties. When you hear the opening guitar, you know immediately what song is coming.
“Wake Up, Little Susie” was not without its controversy. I remember when it first came out; some parents wouldn’t let their kids listen to it. They thought it was too risqué (remember, this was the Fifties.) The story is about a boy and girl who fall asleep during a drive-in movie and wake up in the car in the middle of the night. Wake up little Susie, we got to go home. Our reputation is shot. Some radio stations thought it was a little over the line and refused to play it. That didn’t stop the record from being their second million best seller, and their first number one.
“Wake Up, Little Susie” entered the pop chart on October 14, 1957 and stayed at number one for four weeks.
Here is a lip-synced version which looks live, but at least shows the boys in 1957.
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