Elvis Presley’s #1 Hits – Part 7

Here we are, Elvis fans… the last part in our Elvis’ #1 Hits series.

It’s really incredible to consider Elvis’ success. Fans often gasp when they round the corner to see his wall of gold at the Elvis: The Entertainer Career Museum. So many Gold, Platinum and Diamond Records. So many awards. So many records sold, so many spins on the record player, jukebox and CD and, now, so many digital streams. So many lives touched.

This final part of our series spotlights a few of the king’s biggest hits.

Learn more about Elvis’ #1’s in the previous parts of this series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5 and Part 6.

Be sure to tell us your favorite Elvis hit in the comments!

“Heartbreak Hotel”

"Heartbreak Hotel" was listed as one of Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

“Heartbreak Hotel” was listed as one of Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

“Well, the bellhop’s tears keep flowin’
And the desk clerk’s dressed in black
Well, they’ve been so long on Lonely Street
Well, they’ll never, they’ll never get back…”

According to songwriters Mae Axton and Tommy Durden, the inspiration for this blues song came from an article in the Miami Herald. According to the story, a man had completed suicide and left no identification or any other information, aside from a note that read, “I walk a lonely street.”

A demo of the song was made by Glen Reeves, and Axton took that demo to a DJ convention in Nashville, where she played it for Elvis. She offered him a share of the writers’ publishing ownership if the song would be his first new single release for RCA, which had just purchased his recording contract from Sun Records. Elvis and his band recorded “Heartbreak Hotel” on January 10, 1956, at RCA studios in Nashville in his first recording session for RCA.

Scotty Moore and Chet Atkins were on guitar, with Bill Black on bass and D.J. Fontana on drums. Floyd Cramer played piano. Gordon Stoker of The Jordanaires, plus Ben and Brock Speer, provided background vocals.

The original lyrics were “they pray to die,” but were changed to “they could die.” Take 7 was chosen as the single, and it was released on January 27, 1956. The young King of Rock ‘n’ Roll had a hit – by April, it sold a million copies.

“Heartbreak Hotel” became Elvis’ first #1 on Billboard’s pop singles chart and his first gold record award winner. It reigned on the Billboard pop charts for eight weeks of its 27-week stay. It also enjoyed a 27-week run on the country singles chart with 17 of those weeks at #1. It reached #5 on the R&B chart. In England, it reached #2 on the British pop singles chart.

“Heartbreak Hotel” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1995.

“Heartbreak Hotel” has been covered by many artists, including Elvis’ “Viva Las Vegas” co-star Ann-Margaret, Willie Nelson, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Billy Joel, Guns N Roses, Suzi Quatro and James Gang.

“All Shook Up”

This track is listed as #352 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

This track is listed as #352 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

“My hands are shaky and my knees are weak
I can’t seem to stand on my own two feet
Who do you thank when you have such luck?
I’m in love
I’m all shook up”

“All Shook Up” was written by Otis Blackwell, who also penned hits like “Great Balls of Fire,” “Return to Sender,” “Don’t Be Cruel,” and “Fever.”

Elvis had become uncomfortable with the practice of being given writer’s credits on songs in which he had publishing partnership, so this would be the last song on which he would receive such a credit.

Elvis recorded “All Shook Up” on January 12, 1957, at Radio Recorders of Hollywood. His band included Scotty Moore on guitar, Bill Black on bass and D.J. Fontana on drums. Gordon Stoker of The Jordanaires played piano, and The Jordanaires sang back-up. To give the song the same feel as he had on “Don’t Be Cruel,” Elvis slapped time on the back of his guitar.

Take 10 was chosen as the single, and Elvis requested that it be his next single. It was shipped on March 22, 1957. “That’s When Your Heartaches Begin” was on the flip side. It was a new recording of one of the two songs Elvis recorded at Memphis Recording Service, home of Sun Records, in 1953.

“All Shook Up” topped all three major Billboard charts in the U.S.: country; four weeks at #1 on the R&B chart; and nine weeks as the #1 pop single with a 30-week run on the chart. It was #1 for seven weeks on the British singles chart.

“All Shook Up” has been covered by artists like Paul McCartney, Billy Joel and Jeff Beck.

“Are You Lonesome Tonight?”

Elvis loved to play around with the lyrics to this song in his live performances.

Elvis loved to play around with the lyrics to this song in his live performances.

“Is your heart filled with pain?
Shall I come back again?
Tell me dear, are you lonesome tonight?”

“Are You Lonesome Tonight?” has a bit of history. The song was penned in 1926 by Roy Turk and Lou Handman, and Al Jolson recorded it the following year. The song’s soliloquy was inspired by Jacques’ speech in Act II, Scene VII of Shakespeare’s “As You Like It.”

Elvis recorded the song on April 3, 1960 at RCA Studio B in Nashville. Elvis’ manager, Col. Tom Parker, suggested that the king cover the song, as it was one of his wife’s favorites.

Elvis’ take on “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” was shipped on November 1, 1960, with “I Gotta Know” on the B side. The song topped the Billboard pop singles chart for 6 weeks of its 16-week run. It peaked at #3 in a 10-week run on the R&B singles chart, and it peaked at #22 in a 6-week run on the country chart. “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” topped the British pop singles chart for four weeks of its 15-week run.

Elvis’ “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” was nominated for three Grammy Awards in 1960: Record of the Year (Percy Faith’s “Theme from ‘A Summer Place'” won); Best Vocal Performance – Male (“Georgia on My Mind” by Ray Charles won) and Best Vocal Performance – Pop Single Artist (Charles won again in this category).

Artists who covered the song before and after Elvis include The Carter Family, Frank Sinatra, Doris Day, Merle Haggard, Donny Osmond, Barry Manilow, Bryan Ferry and John Schneider.

“Suspicious Minds”

Elvis and his father, Vernon, got to know musician Roy Hamilton while working at American Sound Studio.

Elvis and his father, Vernon, got to know singer Roy Hamilton while working at American Sound Studio.

“We can’t go on together
With suspicious minds
And we can’t build our dreams
On suspicious minds”

“Suspicious Minds” is one of the biggest hits of Elvis’ career. It was written by Mark James, and Elvis recorded it on January 22, 1969, at American Studio in Memphis. Producer Chips Moman suggested the song to the king. It ended up being the last song recorded at the session.

Reggie Young played guitar, with Tommy Cogbill and Mike Leech on bass. Bobby Wood played piano, and Bobby Emmons played the organ. Gene Chrisman was on drums, with John Hugley on steel guitar. Horns, strings and backing vocals were added later.

Take 8 was used as the single, and “You’ll Think of Me” was the B-side. The single shipped on August 26, 1969, and it hit #1 on the Billboard pop singles chart for a week on its 15-week run. It hit #2 on its 14-week run on the British pop singles chart.

“Suspicious Minds” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999.

Dwight Yoakam, B.J. Thomas, Martina McBride, Waylon Jennings, Candi Staton, Clay Aiken and Phish have also covered the tune.

Which of these Elvis hits are your favorite?

See Elvis’ incredible wall of Gold Records when you visit Graceland! Start making your plans now.


5 Comments

  1. stephen stathis

    The B-sides are often underrated and underappreciated: You’ll Think of Me is a great one as it showcases the mature Elvis singing an adult lyric. I Was the One is my guess one of Elvis’s favorites too since he enjoyed trying it during the filming of TTWII.

  2. My favourite song is Suspicious Minds

  3. stephen stathis

    Elvis would have had more #1s save for the fact the B sides were so great; both sides charted. Elvis was too great even for himself. He couldn’t handle his talent and keep growing as an artist.

  4. mara solberg

    My favorite song is The Wonder of You. and I’ll Remember You always makes me cry. I am so proud and happy for Priscilla and everyone who remembers Elvis.

  5. Robert Corder

    I was, and still am, a huge fan of “The King.” I discovered him when I heard his 1st recording (on the Sun Records label) of “That’s All Right” while sitting in a restaurant/bar in the very rural village of Amissville, VA in 1954. I proclaimed, then and there, that Elvis would become a big star and was subsequently laughed at by my teenage buddies. You know who got the last laugh! My all-time favorite ballad is “Are You Lonesome Tonight.” My favorite blues recording is “Reconsider Baby”, and my favorite rock song is, of course, “Jailhouse Rock.” Long live “The King”!!

Leave a Reply

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