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Who covers blue on black?

Who covers blue on black?

Music is a universal language that connects people across cultures and eras. A great song has the power to move us emotionally and inspire us into action. One such powerful song is “Blue on Black” originally performed by Kenny Wayne Shepherd and released in 1997. This blues rock song delivers a raw emotional punch that resonates deeply. But who are the artists that have covered this blues classic and brought their own unique style to it?

The Original: Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band

“Blue on Black” was written by Kenny Wayne Shepherd along with songwriters Mark Selby and Tia Sillers. The song was released on Shepherd’s second studio album titled Trouble Is… in 1997 when Shepherd was only 20 years old. It gained wide acclaim and popularity, earning Shepherd a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Song. The emotional vocals paired with the bluesy guitar riffs highlight Shepherd’s prodigious talent that shot him to fame at a young age. Shepherd has called it “a very special song” that connected deeply with people going through hard times. It expresses the sadness and grief of a lost love through the metaphor of “blue on black” conveying darkness and sorrow.

Prominent Covers

Many artists have been drawn to cover this powerful blues ballad. Here are some of the most prominent covers of “Blue on Black”:

  • Five Finger Death Punch – The heavy metal band brought their intense rock sound to the song on their 2013 album The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell, Volume 1. Lead singer Ivan Moody’s gravelly vocals fuel the emotion while shredding guitars amp up the energy.
  • P.O.D. – The American Christian nu metal band included their cover on the album The Fundamental Elements of Southtown in 2000, imbuing the song with their rap-metal vibe.
  • David Coverdale & Whitesnake – Featured on Coverdale’s 2000 solo album Into the Light, the Whitesnake frontman lends his smooth bluesy vocals to emotionally charge this rendition.
  • Lee Aaron – The Canadian rock singer brought a soulful feminist perspective with her cover on her 2016 album Fire and Gasoline. Her powerful voice belts out the lyrics backed by a full band.
  • Last Autumn’s Dream – The Swedish rock band led by vocalist Mikael Erlandsson recorded an epic 14-minute version for their 2007 album LAD. The extended guitar solos and sweeping arrangement showcase their talent and highlight the song’s anthemic quality.
  • Andy Timmons – The instrumental rock guitarist offers a stunning solo guitar version on his 2011 album Plays Sgt. Pepper & Blue on Black displaying his virtuosity and emotive playing style.
  • Rebecca Scheja – This Swedish folk singer songwriter stripped down the song to just vocals and piano on her 2010 album Human Behaviour. The simplicity spotlights the melancholy lyrics and Scheja’s yearning vocals.

Live Covers

Beyond studio recordings, “Blue on Black” has become a staple cover for bands to perform live in concert. Here are some notable live covers:

  • Santana – Guitar legend Carlos Santana began incorporating the song into live shows in 2010 adding his signature sublime guitar licks and Latin vibe. These electrifying live versions appear on albums like 2014’s Corazón: Live From Mexico.
  • Phish – The jam band started covering the song live in 1997 often transforming it into a 20+ minute jam punctuated by extensive guitar and keyboard improvisation at shows.
  • Joe Bonamassa – The world renowned blues guitarist has frequently performed the song at live shows and on TV appearances. He injects deep emotion into the vocals while nailing the iconic guitar parts.
  • Eric Gales – The outstanding blues rock guitarist delivers raw energy performing “Blue on Black” live in shows and in online videos, putting his creative stamp on it.
  • Popa Chubby – The bluesy hard rocker has made the song a showstopper at concerts, his version appearing on releases like 2003’s Live at FIP and the 2010 DVD Hit The High Notes Live.

Acoustic and Solo Covers

The melancholy lyrics and bluesy chord progression of “Blue on Black” make it well-suited for acoustic and solo instrumental versions. Here are some great stripped down covers:

  • Joe Robinson – At age 16, this guitar prodigy recorded a stunning solo acoustic version on his 2006 album Birdseed showcasing his technical skills and deep feel.
  • Mike Dawes – This innovative acoustic guitarist transformed it into a remarkable solo instrumental on his 2013 album What Just Happened? His percussive techniques create a full band sound.
  • Tina S – Known for her fingerstyle acoustic arrangements, Tina captivates with her 2020 solo version adding beautiful harmonics, tapping, and altered tunings played on a 10-string guitar.
  • Antoine Dufour – The French-Canadian acoustic guitarist offers an elegant instrumental take on his 2011 album Soundtrack, plucking the emotional melody on his guitar with precision and care.
  • Ana Popovic – On her 2011 live album Live at Highline Ballroom, the acclaimed blues guitarist performs a more upbeat solo acoustic version, highlighting her stellar slide guitar chops.

International Covers

The universal appeal of “Blue on Black” has led to versions in diverse languages and musical styles from around the world, including:

  • Orenda Fink – This American singer songwriter sang it in French on her 2009 album Ask the Night. Her smoky vocals bring a haunting beauty to the emotional lyrics.
  • Die Toten Hosen – Germany’s longest running punk band included a German language cover on their 1999 album Unsterblich with their signature punk rock energy.
  • Rasmus Walter – The Finnish vocalist belted out a powerful version on the 1994 album Kirkas päivä, kirkkaat tähdet with a full band and chorus behind him.
  • Paula Koivuniemi – On her 2002 album Taivas, this Finnish pop singer gave a soulful tender performance with piano and strings enveloping her emotive vocals.
  • One Desire – The Finnish hard rock band fronted by Andre Linman recorded a soaring version on their 2020 album Midnight Empire, adding some symphonic metal flair.
Artist Album Year
Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band Trouble Is… 1997
Five Finger Death Punch The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell, Volume 1 2013
P.O.D. The Fundamental Elements of Southtown 2000
David Coverdale & Whitesnake Into the Light 2000
Lee Aaron Fire and Gasoline 2016
Last Autumn’s Dream LAD 2007
Andy Timmons Plays Sgt. Pepper & Blue on Black 2011
Rebecca Scheja Human Behaviour 2010


Kenny Wayne Shepherd’s “Blue on Black” has clearly resonated with artists across genres who have put their own spin on this bluesy heartache anthem. The universal themes of lost love and sadness expressed through the iconic lyrics, guitar riffs and melody have made it a modern standard. It has been transformed from its blues rock origins into punk, metal, acoustic instrumental, symphonic and international variations by diverse talented musicians. Yet the essence of emotive power remains, passed from voice to voice, guitar to guitar into the future by those who share the feeling of “blue on black.”