Black Velvet – Alannah Myles

THIS DAY IN MUSIC……………………………………………..on March 24th of 1990 Alannah Myles reached #1 on Billboard with “Black Velvet”. This was a Canadian production: the song was written by the Canadian musicians David Tyson and Christopher Ward, and Myles is from Toronto. Ward and Myles were a couple and also worked together – she sang on his 1981 solo album Time Stands Still. Teaming up with Tyson, Ward put together a demo tape for Myles which got her a deal with Atlantic Records.This song is about Elvis Presley. Produced by Tyson and Ward, Alannah Myles was her first album, and it was a huge hit in Canada, becoming the top-selling debut album in Canadian history. “Black Velvet” was the first US single, and it was a massive hit, rising to #1 in March 1990, where it stayed for two weeks. The US follow-up single was another song written by Tyson and Ward, “Love Is.” That song went to #36 and was her last chart entry in America. She did have several more hits in Canada. Myles won a Grammy award for Best Female Rock Performance for this song, along with several Juno Awards. Additionally, this won a Diamond award for sales in excess of 1,000,000 in Canada, the only time an artist has won this for her debut record. ASCAP awarded the song a ‘Millionaire Award’ in 2005 for over 4 million radio plays in the USA. This song is about Elvis Presley. According to the song’s writer Christopher Ward, a key line in this song is “A new religion that will bring you to your knees.” He says he got the idea for that line after realizing that Elvis’ affect on fans was similar to what churchgoers would feel after being exhorted by Fundamentalist preachers. Ward got the idea for this song when he was a VJ for the Canadian music channel MuchMusic. He was sent to Memphis to cover the 10th anniversary of Elvis’ death (August 16, 1987), which exposed him to many fervent Elvis fans. Inspired by their passion for the rocker, he took notes while he was working on the special (which was called Mecca in Memphis), writing lyrics based on what Elvis meant to his fans and what it must have been like for him growing up in the South. The song was also a huge hit in the UK peaking at #2.