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Language
English
Comments
The Rock Island Line (in full, the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad) encouraged its employees to take part in extra-curricular activities such as singing in choirs and writing songs to build brand awareness and loyalty (or “boost” in contemporary terminology) amongst their communities. The song Rock Island Line was written by Clarence Wilson, an engine wiper (cleaner) who worked at the Biddle Street Shops, the railroad’s central freight yard and workshop near Little Rock, Arkansas. He was a member of a vocal group, the Rock Island Colored Booster Quartet, that was based at the Biddle Street Shops and this group first performed his song in December 1929.
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Versions

written by English

Title Performer Release date Info
Unreleased First live performance
1943 First recording on October 2, 1934
May 1942 First release
1951
March 1952
1954
1954 Hit song
March 1956
March 1956
April 1956
1956
1956
1956
1956
April 1957 Live
April 1957
October 1957
1957
1959
1960
December 1961
1961
March 1963 Live
1963
February 1964
1964
February 15, 1965
1965
1967
October 1968
1970
1970
Rock Island Line Whiskey Howl 1972 Unverified
1976
1976
1976
1976
1977
1977
1982
1983
1984
1984
1985
September 3, 1986
1988
1988 Unusual cover song
1993
1997
1998
1998
1999
November 5, 2001
2001
2001
January 8, 2002
June 25, 2002
2002
July 15, 2003
August 3, 2003
July 2004
2007
2007
January 15, 2008
2009
2011
January 30, 2012
November 6, 2015
September 23, 2016
2018 Live