Elvis Presley’s #1 Hits – Part 3

One of the most breathtaking sights at Elvis Presley’s Graceland is the wall of Gold, Diamond and Platinum Records hanging in the Elvis: The Entertainer Career Museum. It’s an entire wall full of awards – and there are even more awards on the surrounding walls.

This year on the Graceland Blog, we’re celebrating Elvis’ Number 1 hits. Check out part one and part two, and now, here’s part three.

“Hound Dog”

"Hound Dog" and "Don't Be Cruel" were released as a double A-side single - which is your favorite?

“Hound Dog” and “Don’t Be Cruel” were released as a double A-side single – which is your favorite?

You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog
Cryin’ all the time
Well, you ain’t never caught a rabbit you ain’t no friend of mine

Originally, this song was performed by a woman, as she told off her “hound dog” of a man. This song, however, was written by two men – Mike Stoller and Jerry Leiber. They penned the tune for blues artist Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton, whose 1953 original landed at No. 1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart in the US.

Rufus Thomas recorded “Bear Cat,” an “answer song” written by Sam Phillips, also in 1953. Freddie and the Bellhops recorded a male-perspective version of “Hound Dog” in 1955, and the group performed it in 1956 in Las Vegas. Elvis caught one of the group’s performances and loved their version; soon, he was also performing it live.

Elvis recorded “Hound Dog” on July 2, 1956, at RCA Studios in New York, just one day after singing the tune to a Basset Hound on the Steve Allen Show. “Hound Dog” was recorded at the same session just prior to “Don’t Be Cruel,” so all of the same musicians were present, except Shorty Long, who was running late. Gordon Stoker filled in for him on piano. The Jordanaires provided background vocals and the clapping. (Learn more about “Don’t Be Cruel” from part 1 of this series.)

It proved difficult to capture the excitement of Elvis’ live “Hound Dog” performances, and it took 31 takes for Elvis to be truly happy with the recording.

“Hound Dog,” with “Don’t Be Cruel,” arrived in stores a few weeks after they were recorded. The two tracks were equally popular and fought for the top spot on the charts.

“Hound Dog” has been covered numerous times by the likes of Jerry Lee Lewis, Jimi Hendrix (look out for artifacts from the legend in the new Icons exhibit at Graceland), James Taylor, Little Richard and many more.

“Good Luck Charm”

Elvis recorded "Good Luck Charm" shortly before filming "Kid Galahad."

Elvis recorded “Good Luck Charm” shortly before filming “Kid Galahad.”

Come on and be my little good luck charm
Uh-huh huh, you sweet delight
I want a good luck charm a-hanging on my arm
To have, to have, to hold, to hold tonight

This sweet love song was penned by Wally Gold and Aaron Schroeder, and Elvis recorded it at RCA’s Studio B in Nashville on October 15, 1961.

The Jordanaires and Millie Kirkham sang the background vocals. The band members on this session include Scotty Moore and Jerry Kennedy on guitar, Bob Moore on bass and D.J. Fontana and Buddy Harman on drums. Boots Randolph played sax and clarinet, and Floyd Cramer played piano for the session.

“Anything That’s Part of You” was the single’s B-side, and it was released in February 1964. “Good Luck Charm” stayed on the Billboard pop singles chart for 13 weeks, peaking at No. 1 for two weeks. This track was Elvis’ last No. 1 on that chart until “Suspicious Minds” in 1969. “Good Luck Charm” knocked “Johnny Angel” by Shelley Fabares off the top spot. Shelley was known as a teen TV star, but she would also later star in movies with Elvis.

In the UK, “Good Luck Charm” spent 17 weeks on the British pop singles chart, with five of those weeks at No. 1.

“(You’re the) Devil in Disguise”

Elvis recorded "(You're The) Devil in Disguise" in the same year that he filmed "Viva Las Vegas."

Elvis recorded “(You’re The) Devil in Disguise” in the same year that he filmed “Viva Las Vegas.”

I thought that I was in heaven
But I was sure surprised
Heaven help me, I didn’t see
The devil in your eyes

This unique number was written by Bill Giant, Bernie Baum and Florence Kaye, and Elvis recorded it in Nashville on May 26, 1963.

Grady Martin, Scotty Moore and Harold Bradley all played guitar on this session. Elvis researcher Ernst Jorgensen has praised Martin’s “blistering guitar work” on this track. Other musicians on the song include D.J. Fontana and Buddy Harman on drums, Bob Moore on bass, Floyd Cramer on piano and Boots Randolph on sax and shakers. The background vocalists are The Jordanaires and Millie Kirkham.

Take 6 was the winning version, and it was released in June 1963 with “Please Don’t Drag That String Around” as the B-side. “Devil in Disguise” peaked at No. 3 in its 11-week run on Billboard’s pop singles chart, and No. 9 in its 8 weeks on the R&B chart. It hit No. 1 on the British pop singles chart for one week of its 12-week run.

“Burning Love”

"Burning Love" was a staple in Elvis' live shows.

“Burning Love” was a staple in Elvis’ live shows.

Your kisses lift me higher
Like the sweet song of a choir
You light my morning sky
With burning love

One of Elvis’ most upbeat and sing-alongable tunes is “Burning Love,” which he recorded on March 28, 1972 at RCA Studios in Hollywood. The song was written by Dennis Linde, who also wrote “I Got a Feelin’ in My Body.”

The musicians on “Burning Love” are James Burton on lead guitar, John Wilkinson and rhythm guitar, Charlie Hodge on guitar, Emory Gordy on bass, Glen D. Hardin on piano and Ronnie Tutt on drums. J.D. Sumner and The Stamps provided background vocals. Horns and strings were added later, as well as additional percussion by Jerry Carrigan and additional guitar work by Dennis Linde.

Take 6 was released as the single in August 1972, with “It’s a Matter of Time” as the B-side. “Burning Love” hit No. 2 in its 15-week run on Billboard’s pop singles chart, and No. 1 on Cashbox Magazine’s pop singles chart. It peaked at No. 7 on its 9-week run on the British pop singles chart. Country artists Travis Tritt and Wynonna have also covered the song.

Which of these hits is your favorite?

Make the ultimate rock ‘n’ roll pilgrimage and visit Graceland! At the Elvis: The Entertainer Career Museum, not only will you see Elvis’ awards, but also his stage wear, movie costumes and scripts, and much more. Plan your visit now.


9 Comments

  1. Burning Love all the way!!

  2. stephen stathis

    Good Luck Charm (like She’s Not You) shows how EP could take a so-so lyric and elevate it: in effect rewriting the song with his interpretation. He had the problem of having many B-sides charting which kept him from having even more No.1 hits. Hound Dog and Don’t Be Cruel single only one ever where both sides went No.1. Why EP is the greatest voice of the 20th century.

  3. john hughes

    To choose one Elvis song is impossible, I love his early stuff, Paralyzed is one but the later stuff too is great, I just can’t help be-leaving, and possibly the greatest American Trilogy, that blows me away every time, but to choose one not possible

  4. Enjoyed getting reacquainted with Elvis. Life gets in the way, but now I’m retired and can enjoy all over again in a new light in my life. I have a crush on Elvis!

  5. My favorite in this group is Burning Love…however it is hard to pick only one favorite … I love all his songs!

  6. Gail Fabbri

    Love all the songs. Love this blog. Very fun to learn the facts! thx

  7. Janet Davies

    I can’t have a favourite of these songs, they’re all good

  8. stephen stathis

    Elvis’ Hound Dog is nothing like the original: Elvis made each song his own: he didn’t have to copy anyone. Too bad he isn’t credited with the millions of EPs (Extended Play records) that he sold. Will Graceland ever tally up his total sales worldwide some day? And have his certifications updated from 1956-1958 before they started to certify gold and platinum records?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *