"Memphis, Tennessee", sometimes shortened to "Memphis", is a song by
Chuck Berry, first released in 1959. In the UK, the song charted at number 6 in 1963; at the same time Decca Records issued a cover version in the UK by
Dave Berry and the Cruisers, which also became a UK Top 20 hit single.
Johnny Rivers's version of the song was a number two US hit in 1964.
In the song the narrator is speaking to a
long-distance operator, trying to find out the number of a girl named Marie, who lives in
Memphis, Tennessee, "on the southside, high upon a ridge, just a half a mile from the
Mississippi bridge." The narrator offers little information to the operator at first, only that he misses Marie and that they were separated by Marie's mother. The final verse reveals that Marie is, in fact, the narrator's six-year-old daughter; her mother, presumably the narrator's ex-wife, "tore apart our happy home" because she "did not agree", as it turned out, with their marriage, not his relationship with Marie, as the listener was misdirected to assume. This song was recorded in St. Louis at Chuck Berry's home, in July 1958.
Chuck Berry – vocals, guitar, guitar overdubs, electric bass
In 1964 singer
Johnny Rivers recorded another version of the tune (which he, following Mack, called "Memphis"), copying Mack's pacing and some of his instrumental improvisations, and reinstating the vocal line from Berry's original. This version hit number 2 on Billboard's Pop chart.