One of the great crossover moments of the '90's came when country stars teamed with African American performers from other genres for the March 1994 album Rhythm, Country and Blues. Later that year at the CMA Awards, one of the album's best duet pairings, Tanya Tucker and the late Little Richard Penniman, performed their fiery rendition of pace-setting early rocker Eddie Cochran's "Somethin' Else."
Tucker performed some great televised duets over the years with the likes of Nashville friends Glen Campbell, George Jones and Brandi Carlile, but none of those match the flashiness, fury and downright fun of her on-screen chemistry with one of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's all-time shoo-ins.
"Somethin' Else" was written by Cochran's girlfriend Sharon Sheeley and his older brother Bob Cochran. It's the sort of rock 'n' roll and rockabilly classic that plays off the typical teenager of the time's daydreams about picking up their next date in a new convertible. Whatever typical came to mean for teenagers beyond those early years of rock excluded the experiences of Tucker, a star by age 13 because of the swift success of her country music megahit "Delta Dawn."
Other team-ups on Rhythm, Country and Blues include Lyle Lovett and Al Green's take on Willie Nelson's "Funny How Time Slips Away," Aaron Neville and Trisha Yearwood singing "I Fall to Pieces," Sam Moore and Conway Twitty's "Rainy Night in Georgia" duet and Marty Stuart and The Staple Singers' version of The Band's "The Weight." The album debuted atop Billboard's Top Country Albums chart and reached No. 15 on the Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums chart.
Rhythm, Country and Blues gets released on vinyl for the first time on Feb. 19.
Per a 1994 article by USA Today's David Zimmerman and James T. Jones IV, all performers were paired up by MCA, with only Stuart and The Staples Singers having met beforehand.
There was also a PBS special about the album which featured footage of Tucker and Little Richard cutting "Somethin' Else" in-studio.
Rhythm, Country and Blues Track Listing
- "Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing" - Gladys Knight & Vince Gill
- "I Fall To Pieces" - Aaron Neville & Trisha Yearwood
- "Somethin' Else" - Little Richard & Tanya Tucker
- "When Something Is Wrong With My Baby" - Patti LaBelle & Travis Tritt
- "Rainy Night In Georgia" - Sam Moore & Conway Twitty
- "Chain Of Fools" - Clint Black & The Pointer Sisters
- "Since I Fell For You" - Natalie Cole & Reba McEntire
- "Southern Nights" - Allen Toussant & Chet Atkins
- "The Weight" - Marty Stuart & The Staple Singers
- "Patches" - George Jones & B.B. King
This story was first published on May 9, 2020.