This slide guitar-driven rock ‘n’ roll instrumental was the first release by brothers Santo and Johnny Farina. They’d already been playing local clubs in their Brooklyn neighborhood at the time, but it was not until their father’s encouragement that they started writing their own songs. Moreover, it was him who also encouraged the duo to learn to play the steel guitar against all odds: “We were exposed to mandolins, acoustic guitars and accordians. So for us to take lessons on a steel guitar … No one really wanted to hear it. Everyone was doing doo-wop. They associated the steel guitar sound with country and Hawaiian music. Although really, the way we play it is not Hawaiian at all”, recalls Johnny.
The ending results were highly influential in the rock ‘n’ roll world. It served as the main inspiration behind Fleetwood Mac’s Albatross, which in turn inspired The Beatles’ Sun King. John Lennon wrote Free as a Bird with Sleep Walk in mind. George Harrison’s Marwa Blues is a direct nod. And that’s not even mentioning the dozens covers by artists such as Chet Atkins, The Shadows, The Ventures, Jeff Beck, and Joe Satriani, as well as its excessive use in movies and TV shows soundtracks. Santo & Johnny never quite managed to top its success, although Tear Drop and Twistin’ Bells gave them a bit of chart time. The former brother quit the music business no long after, while 2012 caught the latter still touring.
Sleep Walk spent 2 consecutive weeks at number one in Billboard Top 100 before being dethroned by Bobby Darin’s Mack the Knife.