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"Brown Eyed Handsome Man"
Single by Chuck Berry
from the album After School Session
A-side" Too Much Monkey Business"
ReleasedSeptember 1956 (1956-09) [1]
RecordedApril 16, 1956 [2] [3]
Studio Universal Recording Corp. (Chicago) [4]
Genre Rock and roll, rhythm and blues
Label Chess 1635 [1] [2]
Songwriter(s) Chuck Berry
Producer(s) Leonard Chess, Phil Chess [2]
Chuck Berry singles chronology
" Maybellene"
"Brown Eyed Handsome Man"
" Roll Over Beethoven"
"Brown Eyed Handsome Man"
Single by Buddy Holly
from the album Reminiscing
B-side"Rock-a-Bye Rock"
Released1963 (1963)
Genre Rock and roll
Label Coral 93 352
Songwriter(s)Chuck Berry
Producer(s) Norman Petty
Buddy Holly singles chronology
"Brown Eyed Handsome Man"
" Bo Diddley"

"Brown Eyed Handsome Man" is a rock and roll song written and recorded by Chuck Berry, originally released by Chess Records in September 1956 as the B-side of " Too Much Monkey Business." It was also included on Berry's 1957 debut album, After School Session. The song title was also used as the title of a biography of Berry. [5]

Background and recording

"Brown Eyed Handsome Man" was written after Berry visited several African-American and Hispanic areas in California. During his time there, he saw a Hispanic man being arrested by a policeman when "some woman came up shouting for the policeman to let him go." [6]

"Brown Eyed Handsome Man" was recorded at Universal Recording Corporation in Chicago, Illinois on April 16, 1956. The session was produced by the Chess brothers, Leonard and Phil. Backing Berry were Johnnie Johnson on piano, L. C. Davis on tenor saxophone, Willie Dixon on bass, and Fred Below on drums. [2]

The song was released in September 1956 [1] and reached number 5 on Billboard magazine's R&B Singles chart later that year. [7]

Relevance in race relations

Glenn C. Altschuler, in a caption to photo of Berry, states that the lyrics of the song "played slyly with racial attitudes and even fears." [8] Martha Bayles noted that "Berry's penchant for bragging about his 'Brown Eyed Handsome Man''s appeal for white females outraged a lot of people." [9]

Cover versions

The song has been covered by many artists, including Buddy Holly, whose recording was a posthumous hit in the United Kingdom in 1963, where it peaked at number three, and was released on the album Reminiscing, which reached number two on the UK Albums Chart. [10] Holly's version also peaked at number three in Ireland. [11] Johnny Rivers also covered the song on his first album, At the Whisky à Go Go, in 1964, as did Nina Simone on her 1967 album High Priestess of Soul and Waylon Jennings on a single from his 1970 album Waylon. It was also covered by Robert Cray on the 1987 live tribute album to Berry, Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll and by Paul McCartney on his 1999 album Run Devil Run and on a double A-side single with " No Other Baby".

The song was also performed by the so-called " Million Dollar Quartet": Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Elvis Presley in a jam session on December 4, 1956. [12] Lewis also released a solo version on his 1970 album She Even Woke Me Up to Say Goodbye. [13] Cash recorded it with Perkins on his posthumous 2003 album Unearthed. "Brown Eyed Handsome Man" was performed in the Broadway musical Million Dollar Quartet, which opened in New York in April 2010, [14] and was included in the album Million Dollar Quartet, recorded by the original Broadway cast, with Lance Guest as Johnny Cash, Robert Britton Lyons as Carl Perkins, Levi Kreis as Jerry Lee Lewis, and Eddie Clendening as Elvis Presley. [15]

It was also covered by Lyle Lovett on his 2012 album Release Me.

The song is loosely referenced in John Fogerty’s song " Centerfield" with the line, “A-roundin' third, and headed for home, It's a brown-eyed handsome man.”


  1. ^ a b c Rudolph, Dietmar. "A Collector's Guide to the Music of Chuck Berry: The Chess Era (1955–1966)". Retrieved December 4, 2010.
  2. ^ a b c d Gold (CD liner notes). Chuck Berry. United States: Geffen Records/ Chess Records. 2005. pp. 20, 27. 0602498805589.{{ cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) ( link)
  3. ^ "Images for Chuck Berry - Gold". Retrieved 18 February 2019.
  4. ^ "The Chuck Berry Database Details For Recording Session: 19. 4. 1956". A Collector's Guide to the Music of Chuck Berry. Dietmar Rudolph. Retrieved 28 September 2021.
  5. ^ Pegg, Bruce (2002). Brown Eyed Handsome Man: The Life and Hard Times of Chuck Berry: An Unauthorized Biography. Routledge. ISBN  9780415937481.
  6. ^ "Brown Eyed Handsome Man by Chuck Berry". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on October 16, 2007.
  7. ^ "Chuck Berry: Billboard Singles". Allmusic. Rovi. Retrieved December 3, 2010.
  8. ^ Altschuler, Glenn C. (2003). All Shook Up: How Rock 'n' Roll Changed America. Oxford University Press. p. 64. ISBN  9780198031918.
  9. ^ Bayles, Martha (1996). Hole in Our Soul: The Loss of Beauty and Meaning in American Popular Music. University of Chicago Press. pp. 149–150. ISBN  9780226039596.
  10. ^ McAleer, Dave (2004). Hit Singles: Top 20 Charts From 1954 to the Present Day. Hal Leonard. p. 84. ISBN  9780879308087.
  11. ^ "The Irish Charts - All there is to know".
  12. ^ "The Million Dollar Quartet - The Million Dollar Quartet, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash - Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 18 February 2019.
  13. ^ "She Even Woke Me Up to Say Goodbye - Jerry Lee Lewis - Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 18 February 2019.
  14. ^ Zielinski, Peter James. "Photo Coverage: MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET Opens on Broadway". Retrieved 18 February 2019.
  15. ^ "Song List" and "Performing Credits". Million Dollar Quartet (2010). CD booklet. p. 5. New York: Avatar Studios; Chicago: Chicago Recording Company.