The complete history of
Blue Suede Shoes
Blue Suede Shoes
The most famous shoes of the rock and roll era
were Carl Perkins's Blue Suede shoes. Although,
Elvis Presley had the big hit, credit was always
given to Perkins for writing the song. The idea
came from his early days (1955) when he and
Johnny Cash were standing in a food queue and
someone in front cried a warning to another
not to trod on his foot. 'Hey don't step on my
blue suede shoes". Cash was moved to say to
his companion that would be a good title for a
Perkins to Presley
Later, when Perkins was playing in a dance hall
he noticed one of the dancers gesticulating to
their partner not to stand on his feet. The
following morning, or so the story goes, he
woke up with the song lyrics in his head and
cleverly wrote them down.
He recorded the song before Elvis Presley but a
road accident prevented him from performing
the hit on national television. Presley was in
desperate need of a follow-up to Heartbreak
Hotel and took 'Shoes' to the top of the US
charts in 1956.
What are Blue Suede Shoes?
In American, the shoes were suede oxford
brogues worn by middle class university
students (preppies); elsewhere, youths in the
UK (Teddy boys); Halbstarke in Germany; the
Stilyagi in Russia, and Blousons Noir in France
wore cheap, crude crepe soled platform shoes.
The shoes united the world’s youth in rebellion
but the shoe styles were quite different in the
US from the UK and elsewhere.
The nature of a sub culture is the desire to be
different and will often flaunt the conventions of
Teenagers of the 50s were no different, and
choose suede (the skin side of leather), because it
previously had been regarded as an effeminate
medium worn only by lounge lizards types, and
The name, Brothel Creeper, spells out the
sexuality of the shoe. They were a celebration of
unsubtle masculinity and were the working-class
equivalent of the desert boot.
The appeal of brothel creepers lay in
their deliberate crudeness.
Desert boots were originally worn by army officers during the Desert Campaign in North Africa, (World
War II). The suede bottees were ideal for crossing sand and comfortable enough to wear off duty.
Egyptian cobblers made the shoes for the soldiers to kept as souvenirs. Clarke's of England picked up
on the idea and suede Oxfords became popular with older single men, after the war. Many could be
seen in cruising the red light districts of Soho and Kings Cross and quickly became known as ‘lounge
lizards’ and their ‘brothel creepers.’
A cheaper, more crude version became
commercially available in England in 1949,
when a Northampton based shoemaker,
marketed the "Hamilton." Teddy boys snapped
Brothel creepers were as aggressive as desert
boots were urbane. Worn originally with drapes
and drainpipe trousers they were a variation of
the sartorial style of Prince Edward, and hence
the delinquents were called Teddy boys.
An interesting innovation was the
unconventional use of a boot lace, worn as a
Symbolically these acknowledged the
importance of 'Hillbilly Music' in the
emerging music scene as well as flying in the
convention of shirt and tie brigade.
Dress codes became
very important in public
places like dance halls
All in all, the style was
the right image for
angry young men and
made up the post war
generation, which burst
into life with the onset
of Rock' n Roll.
Roll over Beethoven
Chuck Berry invented the 'duck walk’ routine to
distract the audience’s attention from his
Australian Bodgies in the 50s adopted both US &
UK fashions with a hint of Italian and wore Spiv
suits often worn with pointy, white shoes.
Later this was combined with
crossover rockabilly crocodile
skin shoes, especially worn
with black satin shirts.
The original Australian Sharpies, ironically wore
almost exactly the same gear and footwear as
their forebears , the rough urban hooligans or
The Return of the Brother Creeper
Brothel creepers made a brief return in the mid
70’s with the retro R’n’R Revival and bands like
Mud, Sha-na-na, Showaddywaddy and Daddy
In reprise they were neutered and no longer
the sign of youthful rebellion rather a shade of
their former glory and like the imitation
crocodile and leopard skins, they became
contrived bad taste.
Carl Perkins never wore blue suede shoes
although Presley did own a pair, which he
ordered after the song shot up the charts. The
King wore lifts in his shoes to make him look
In 2013, they were auctioned at Julien's
Auctions in Los Angeles and sold for around
£48,000 ($78, 241).
Buddy Holly only ever wore brown suede