Our Top 10 Songs The Jordanaires Performed On article looks at a famous gospel vocal group who broke into rock and pop music via Elvis Presley in the 1950s. The vocal group had originally formed in 1948 singing gospel songs. Many in rock and roll only associated The Jordanaires with Elvis Presley, the truth is, the Jordanaires vocal talents can be found on thousands of recordings from the entire second half of the 20th century. Elvis Presley first became aware of the Jordanaires when he heard them play a show with Eddy Arnold in Memphis. When Elvis Presley signed his first recording contract, he make sure to recruit The Jordanaires to sing backup recordings. The Jordanaires backup vocals formed a signature sound on Elvis Presley‘s recordings as they sang on every Elvis Presley record for a period of fourteen years.
The Jordanaires worked with many other classic artists including a nice three year run with Patsy Cline from 1960 to 1963. The group also recorded with Ricky Nelson, Johnny Cash, Cliff Richard, Ringo Starr, Jim Reeves, Marty Robbins, Bobby Bare, Don McLean, Dolly Parton, and even bands like the Blasters and Chicago. The Jordanaires were a busy backup vocal group over the course of 25 years. They worked every day in the studio often up to four sessions a day. The Jordanaires sung on over thirty thousand recordings. They defined the concept of working musicians.
The Jordanaires lineup consisted of Hoyt Hawkins on baritone Neil Matthews jr, Gordon Stoker and Ray Walker. Other members of The Jordanaires also included Bill Matthews, Monty Matthews, Bob Hubbard, Julie Holt, Bob Money, Donald Bruce, Hugh Jarrett, Duane West, Louis Nunley and Curtis Young.
Our top 10 Jordanaires songs list presents 10 performances by The Jordanaires as backup singers on some classic recordings. There are thousands of recordings that The Jordanaires sang on. None of the Jordanaires original songs are included on this list. This article just focuses on their roles as backup singers which made them famous. We limited the amount of Elvis Presley recordings because we wanted to present a wide variety of artists that the Jordanaires performed with.
# 10 – Don’t
We open up our Jordanaires songs list with a track that features the Jordanaires right from the song’s opening beat. Because The Jordanaires were featured on almost all of Elvis Presley’s recordings, it was tough to choose which ones to include on the list. However this one just felt right. The song “Don’t,” was released in 1958. It went straight to number one on the Billboard Top 100.
# 9 – Yes, I Understand
Continuing with our 10 best Jordanaires performances on record we turn to a classic Patsy Cline song entitled ‘Yes, I Understand.” The Jordanaires are all over this one. The group must have been very enjoyable to work with because no one ever wanted to stop working with them.
# 8 -Too Much Monkey Business
This was always one of our favorite Elvis Presley and the Jordanaires songs. Listen to the harmonies between Elvis Presley and the Jordanaires. Juist perfect! The song was released on the album Elvis Singing Flaming Star and Others.
# 7 – Run Softly, Blue River
On this classic Johnny Cash song, the Jordanaires take the lead vocals at the song’s start setting up the scene for the legendary deep voice of Johnny Cash. The song “Run Softly, Blue River,” was released on the album The Fabulous Johnny Cash in 1958. It was only the second studio album that Johnny Cash had released at the time.
# 6 – The Battle of New Orleans
Johnny Horton’s “The Battle Of New Orleans,” was another number one hit record that the Jordanaires performed on. The song was released in 1959 and went to number one on the Billboard Hot 100. It also hit number one on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles. The song was written by Jimmy Driftwood.
# 5 – Big Bad John
We wonder how many people remember this song. It had one of those hooks that transcended into culture on many levels. Big Bad John! With that deep voice and amazing backing vocals by the Jordanaires, this one was a real classic.
# 4 – Coal Miner’s Daughter
Loretta Lynn is one of country music’s all time legends. She was loved by millions not only for her voice but also for her brilliant songwriting skills. Loretta Lynn penned this classic song entitled “Coal Miner’s Daughter.” The song was released in 1970. It featured the Jordanaires on backing vocals. The song went straight to number one on Billboard’s US Hot Country Songs in 1970.
# 3 – Travelin Man
Ricky Nelson’s Travelin Man,” was one of the biggest songs of his career. He was one of the biggest teen idols of the late 1950s and 60s. He had a huge following and made multiple television appearances. He even co-starred with John Wayne in the classic western Rio Bravo. He had so many hits in 1958, he even outdid Elvis Presley on the charts in 58 and 59. He latched onto The Jordanaires for this one earning himself a number one record with “Travelin Man,” and the Jordanaires right alongside him.
# 2 – Crazy
Patsy Cline’s “Crazy,” stands as one of the most popular recordings of all time. This legendary song was released by Patsy Cline and the Jordanaires. The song was released in 1961. “Crazy,” became a top 10 hit on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. The song went all the way to number two on the US Billboard Country Charts. However, it’s the legacy of the song and how it has consistently infiltrated pop culture over the past 60 years that defines just how brilliant this recording was by the Jordanaires and Patsy Cline.
# 1 – Don’t Be Cruel
We close out our Top 10 Songs And Recordings Featuring The Jordanaires list the same way we opened it, with a brilliant Elvis Presley recording. The Jordanaires were an essential part of the classic Elvis Presley song entitled “Don’t Be Cruel.” The song was written by Otis Blackwell. Don’t Be Cruel.” was released as the b-side to the single “Hound Dog,” in 1956.
Feature Photo: Press Department, Capitol Records. While Elvis was signed to RCA Victor, the Jordanaires made recordings of their gospel music on their own, without Presley. They produced some albums for Captiol over a long period of time., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Jordanaires article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2021
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