Elvis Presley’s Piano Man: Floyd Cramer

You know an Elvis song as soon as you hear his voice. Many of Elvis’ diehard fans have learned his backup musicians’ distinctive style, too, and can easily pick out anyone who’s on drums, guitar, piano or bass. Here on the Graceland Blog, we’ve covered a lot of the musicians and producers who helped Elvis craft his musical magic, like The Jordanaires, Sam Phillips and the Blue Moon Boys, Scotty Moore and Bill Black. This week, we’re spotlighting Floyd Cramer, who played on numerous Elvis hits in the 1950s and 60s. Floyd Cramer, a Louisiana native who grew up in Arkansas, taught himself to play piano. He got his first job in showbiz at the Louisiana Hayride, the Grand Ole Opry competitor which featured Elvis. Elvis made his Hayride debut in October 1954 and became a regular later that year. He ended his Hayride contract in 1956 as his fame grew. Floyd played with Elvis as early as the spring of 1955, when Elvis’ live show was recorded in Texas as a remote broadcast for the Hayride. Floyd moved to Nashville in 1956, where he quickly became one of the busiest session musicians in the business. In addition to the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Floyd also recorded with Patsy Cline, Roy Orbison, Brenda Lee, Jim Reeves, Eddy Arnold and the Everly Brothers. Floyd mastered the “slip note” style of playing the piano, and he, among with many other session players, helped form the famous “Nashville sound.” Floyd played at Elvis’ first RCA session on January 10-11, 1956, where Elvis, Floyd, Scotty Moore (guitar), Chet Atkins (guitar), Bill Black (bass), DJ Fontana (drums) and Gordon Stoker, Ben Speer and Brock Speer (vocals) cut hits like “Heartbreak Hotel,” “I Got a Woman” and “Money Honey.” Floyd also recorded with Elvis in Nashville in 1958, helping create hits like “A Big Hunk O’ Love,” “(Now and Then There’s) A Fool Such As I” and “I Got Stung.” After Elvis returned home from his service in the Army in 1960, he continued to record with Floyd on and off, when Floyd wasn’t working with other artists. You can hear Floyd on a number of Elvis’ 1960s hits, like “A Mess of Blues,” “Fever,” “It’s Now or Never,” “Surrender,” “His Hand in Mine,” “Crying in the Chapel,” “Little Sister,” and many more. You can also hear Floyd’s work on several of Elvis’ movie...
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Elvis Presley’s #1 Hits – Love Songs

There’s no better time than now to enjoy Elvis’ love songs. After all, it’s February, and Valentine’s Day is only days away. Here on the Graceland Blog, we have an Elvis’ #1 hits series that digs deep into the king’s biggest hits, who wrote them, who played on them and more. Check out part 1, part 2, part 3 and part 4. Now, for part 5, we’re taking a look at a handful of Elvis love songs as an early celebration of Valentine’s Day. The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll recorded countless love songs, so we just chose a few for this edition. But be sure to tell us your favorite Elvis love song in the comments! Let’s get to know these lovely love songs a bit better! “Can’t Help Falling in Love” Like a river flows Surely to the sea Darling, so it goes Some things are meant to be Elvis’ beautiful performance of this song makes it the legendary classic that it is. But did you know this song actually has quite a history all its own? “Can’t Help Falling in Love” is based on an 18th century French classic called “Plaisir d’Amor,” originally penned by Giovanni Martini. The song, as recorded by Elvis, was written by George Weiss, Hugo Peretti and Luigi Creatore, and it’s fairly faithful to the original version. Elvis recorded “Can’t Help Falling in Love” on March 23, 1961 at Radio Recorders in Hollywood for the “Blue Hawaii” soundtrack. Musicians on this session include Scotty Moore and Hank Garland on guitar; Bob Moore on bass; DJ Fontana, Hal Blaine and Bernie Mettinson on drums; Floyd Cramer on piano; Dudley Brooks on piano and celeste; Boots Randolph on saxophone; George Fields on harmonica; Alvino Ray on steel guitar; and Fred Tavares and Bernie Lewis on ukulele. The Jordanaires provided back-up vocals, along with a group called The Surfers, made up of Patrick Sylvia, Bernard Ching, Clayton Naluai and Alan Naluai. During Elvis’ touring years, from 1969-1977, “Can’t Help Falling in Love” was Elvis’ signature closing song at his concerts. “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” with “Rock-a-Hula Baby” on the flip side, was released in November 1961. This fan favorite hit No. 2 in its 14-week run on the Billboard pop singles chart. It stayed on the British pop singles chart for four weeks, and it topped the charts. This is one of Elvis’ most covered...
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