Elvis Presley’s #1 Hits

Elvis Presley had a lot of hit singles.

A lot. Seriously. A lot.

If you’ve ever visited Graceland, you’ve no doubt been a little blown away by Elvis’ countless Gold, Diamond and Platinum Records. It’s fun to pick out your favorite songs on the walls and even snap a selfie with your favorite Gold Record.

To celebrate Elvis’ iconic and groundbreaking music, we’re going to cover Elvis’ #1 hits here on the Graceland Blog. We’ll share the backstory of each song, who played on it, where it landed on various charts and more. We’ll tackle a few at a time, and every few months or so.

Here are the stories of a few of Elvis’ #1s, picked at random.

“Don’t Be Cruel”

Photographer Alfred Wertheimer took thousands of incredible shots of Elvis during 1956, including this one, at the studio.

Photographer Alfred Wertheimer took thousands of incredible shots of Elvis during 1956, including this one, at the studio.

“Don’t be cruel to a heart that’s true
I don’t want no other love, baby, it’s just you I’m thinking of…”

Elvis recorded this song at RCA Studios in New York on July 2, 1956.

The track was written by Otis Blackwell. Elvis’ manager, Col. Tom Parker, struck a deal so that Elvis would receive a cut of the publishing ownership on many songs he recorded, so Elvis’ name appears in the writing credits for “Don’t Be Cruel.” Elvis was not happy with that deal, however, so soon this practice was scrapped.

For “Don’t Be Cruel,” Elvis was backed by his band: Scotty Moore on guitar, Bill Black on bass and D.J. Fontana on drums. Shorty Long played piano, and The Jordanaires performed backing vocal duties. Ernie Ulrich was the engineer.

Elvis asked for personal copies of the acetates from this recording so he could study them. He wanted to make sure his live performances had the same feel as his recordings.

The single “Don’t Be Cruel” shipped on July 13, 1956 (remember – he’d only recorded it 11 days earlier). It sold so quickly that five gold records were given to Elvis on one plaque. “Don’t Be Cruel” hit #1 on all three major U.S. charts, and it was #1 on Billboard’s pop single charts for 11 weeks, staying a total of 27 weeks on the chart. It also landed at #1 on the country singles chart, where it stayed for 10 weeks, with a total of 28 weeks on the chart. It stayed at #1 on the R&B singles chart for a week and spent 17 weeks on the chart.

In 2002, “Don’t Be Cruel” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

“Don’t Be Cruel” has been recorded by many other artists, such as Jerry Lee Lewis, Cheap Trick, Billy Swan, The Judds, Marty Stuart and Neil Diamond.

“One Night”

Elvis recorded "One Night" early in 1957.

Elvis recorded “One Night” early in 1957.

“One night with you
Is what I’m now praying for
The things that we two could plan
Would make my dreams come true…”

The sexy “One Night” was written by Pearl King and Dave Bartholomew. It was originally “One Night of Sin,” and was pretty risqué for the time. It was “one night of sin” he was now “paying for,” not “one night with you,” which he was now “praying for.”

He recorded the tamer version on February 23, 1957, at Radio Recorders in Hollywood (the more risqué version, recorded the previous month, was not released until 1983). For this session, Elvis was again joined by Scotty, D.J., Bill and The Jordanaires. “I Got Stung” was on the flip side of the single, which was released on October 21, 1958.

The song hit #1 on the British pop singles chart, where it stayed for 12 weeks. It reached #4 on Billboard’s pop singles chart and remained on the charts for 17 weeks. It remained on the country charts for three weeks, peaking at #24, and stayed on the R&B singles chart for 15 weeks, peaking at #10.

Tom Jones has also recorded his own version of “One Night,” and Fats Domino has his own take on “One Night of Sin.”

“(Marie’s the Name) His Latest Flame”

Elvis recorded "(Marie's the Name) His Latest Flame" in the summer of 1961, and earlier that year he was honored by the Tennessee State Legislature.

Elvis recorded “(Marie’s the Name) His Latest Flame” in the summer of 1961, and earlier that year he was honored by the Tennessee State Legislature.

“Would you believe that yesterday
This girl was in my arms and swore to me
She’d be mine eternally
And Marie’s the name of his latest flame…”

This song was recorded on June 25, 1961, at RCA Studio B in Nashville. The track was written by Mort Shuman and Doc Pumus.

Working this session were Bob Moore on bass, Scotty Moore and Hank Garland on guitar, D.J. Fontana and Buddy Harman on drums, Boots Randolph on the claves and Floyd Cramer on piano and organ. Millie Kirkham and The Jordanaires provided backing vocals.

Elvis cut “Little Sister,” another Pomus/Shuman track, in this same session, so these two tracks were released together on August 8, 1961.
“(Marie’s the Name) His Latest Flame” peaked at #1 for four weeks in its 13-week run on the British pop singles chart. It hit #4 for 11 weeks on the Billboard pop singles chart.

Other artists who have recorded this song include Del Shannon, The Smiths and the punk band Misfits.

“In the Ghetto”

Singer Roy Hamilton was also recording at American Studio at the same time as Elvis, and the pair became great friends.

Singer Roy Hamilton was also recording at American Studio at the same time as Elvis, and the pair became great friends.

“As the snow flies
On a cold and gray Chicago mornin’
A poor little baby child is born
In the ghetto
And his mama cries…”

Mac Davis wrote this fan favorite Elvis tune. He recorded it on January 20, 1969, at American Studio in Memphis, with legendary producer Chips Moman at the helm. Chips used four of his eight tracks to record a session, keeping the rest for overdubbing additional vocals, strings and horns later. He wanted the lead artist’s voice on the track alone, and this arrangement gave him creative control to build and mix the song.

Playing on this session was Elvis and Reggie Young on guitar, Mike Leech and Tommy Cogbill on bass, Gene Chrisman on drums, Bobby Emmons on organ, Bobby Wood on piano and John Hugley on steel guitar. The backing vocals, horns and strings were all added later.
“Any Day Now” was chosen as the B-side, and it was released on April 14, 1969. It reached #3 on Billboard’s pop singles chart, where it enjoyed a 13-week run. It was on the country charts for 7 weeks, where it peaked at #60. It reached #1 on the British pop singles chart.

Dolly Parton, Bobbie Gentry and Bobby “Blue” Bland all released versions of the song – and each of them kept in Elvis’ ad-libbed line, “and his mama cries.”

“The Wonder of You”

Elvis never recorded "The Wonder of You" in the studio. It was recorded live at one of his Las Vegas concerts.

Elvis never recorded “The Wonder of You” in the studio. It was recorded live at one of his Las Vegas concerts.

“Guess I’ll never know the reason why
You love me like you do
That’s the wonder, the wonder of you…”

This beautiful track was recorded live at the International Hotel in Las Vegas on February 18, 1970. Written by Baker Knight, it was paired with “Mama Liked the Roses” for its release on April 20, 1970.

On stage with Elvis that night were James Burton on lead guitar, John Wilkinson on rhythm guitar, Jerry Scheff on bass, drummer Bob Lanning and Glen D. Hardin on piano. Charlie Hodge, The Sweet Inspirations and The Imperials sang back-up, with soprano vocal by Millie Kirkham added later.

It peaked at #9 on its 12-week run on the Billboard pop singles chart, and at #37 on its 10-week run on the country chart. It reached #1 for six weeks in its 20-week run on the British pop singles chart.

“The Wonder of You” was also recorded by The Platters, The Delltones and The Sandpipers.

Which of these tracks is your favorite?

If you want to learn more about Elvis’ music, you can’t miss Graceland. It’s the ultimate pilgrimage for rock ‘n’ roll fans. In March, we’ll open Elvis Presley’s Memphis, a new entertainment complex, and it will feature Elvis: The Entertainer Career Museum. That museum will be the largest and most comprehensive Elvis museum in the world, so you’ll definitely want to explore that and learn even more about Elvis’ hit songs.

Make your plans to visit Graceland today!


44 Comments

  1. Marie’s the Name is my favorite because of the immediate impact it has every time I listen to it. The drumming is powerful and it’s a grabber each time. I’ve been listening to it since 1961 it it still grabs me today just like it first did.

  2. james patino

    Interesting, but I don’t want to be critical. We’re all Elvis fans.It’s essential that Elvis is slapping the back of his guitar on “Don’t Be Cruel”. It’s a big part of the background sound. Elvis did this on a few of his songs and it had a very noticeable effect to the recording. DJ’s drums can’t even be heard

  3. Peggy Goodson

    I think that this blog is really great!

  4. David Spann

    In the Ghetto is my favorite of this group. Don’t Be Cruel is my second.

  5. Michael Caputo

    All are great picks and all should have been #1’s on the Billboard charts! They’re all #1 with me. Thank you for the background information on them. We’re looking forward to the next group.

  6. It is always a “treat” to learn more about Elvis and his music. Thank you!

  7. Mrs Maureen Richards MBE

    Love Elvis visiting Graceland in May 2017 cant wait.

  8. The wonder of you is my favorite!That would make a great wedding song.

    • Leon'a Wilson-Mann

      I have never heard a Elvis song I didn’t fall in love with, but having said that, I have always been thrilled with ”The Wonder Of You”I think because the words sound like he’s singing just to his loyal fans. You know he never understood our love and loyalty to him, and the words just emphasize that ‘wonder in his voice as he sings it in concert. Just my personal opinion on maybe what was running through his mind the 1st time he heard the song and said ‘I gotta record this’ !!

  9. bonnie rasmussen

    Enjoyed the history of some of my favorite melodies.
    I travelled from Trail, British Columbia to attend an Elvis concert in Spokane, WA August 1957. I was 16 years of age and hitchhiked with my girlfriend Carol Trembley to attend this concert. Bonnie Campbell Rasmussen

  10. LOVE IT!

  11. Margaret Mary Coley

    Terrific information regarding Elvis’s recordings and number 1 hits. My favorite has always been “The Wonder of You”

  12. Bruce Williams

    always loved elvis

  13. Bruce Williams

    send more info

  14. Bruce Williams

    elvis

  15. Anita Donaldson

    I really enjoy any and all information on Elvis. He was one of a kind!

    We visited Graceland Christmas 2015 and loved it. We are planning on coming back this year.

  16. Sheryl Mathews

    Love this keep it coming.

  17. Linda Correia

    The Greatest Voice Of All time, Never Was or Will Be Another, Elvis The King !!!

  18. Elaine Garman

    One Night With You

  19. vickie Galligan

    I havent been to Graceland but I have always wanted to go I am 62 and have been a,fan since I was 7 or 8 I still watch his movies and listen to his music I hope before I am too old and can’t get around I can got to Graceland and Tupelo it would be a dream come true

  20. One of his best and most underappreciated songs is Anything That’s Part of You. Often times these songs are lost on the B side of a hit single.

  21. Lorna percy

    Hi I would love to come visit graceland the picture ‘s I’ve seen look beautiful .but I can’t afford plus I’m a carer for my disabled son .I’m a great fan of elvis and think.he was an amazing Man he done some lovely movies and made some wonderful songs .

  22. great photos and stories i posted on my wall for my elvis friends for them to read about elvis that we love thank you

  23. Great job on the picture of Elvis

  24. Ἀργυρῶ Κουκουλᾶ

    I think that ”the wonder of you” as been recorder only during a live show reflects and proves entirely Elvis capacities on vocals and producing an atmosphere.
    However, ”his latest flame” has such a cute plot as lyrics ,that also takes huge theatrical tact of a voice to feature it. Elvisis perfect here too.

  25. Tony gumbley

    One night such a fantastic song hard to choose a favourite

  26. Jimmy lee

    I like them all I’ve never heard a bad Elvis song at all /In The ghetto and/ The wonder of you & one night are my favorite but again there all awesome some others suspicious minds which I know is not on this list he had so many that it’s hard to choose from Elvis is just a tremendous artist plane and simple long live the king!!!

  27. I love all of Elvis’ songs and two of my favorites are In The Ghetto and Help Me Make it Through the Night, also One Night of Sin (LOL). Hard to make a decision of my most favorite. I could listen to his version of How Great Thou Art all the time!

  28. I hope to some day, before I die, be able to afford to go to Memphis to go through Graceland and to also stay in the Guest House, so that I can be totally immersed in everything “Elvis”. Kind of hard to come up with that much money since I live on disability pay due to an old accident, but I do hope I can be blessed so that I will not have to miss everything because I’ve been an Elvis fan forever … met him when I was 16 yrs. old and got so “shook up” that I never remembered a single word he said to me ..LOL. I listen to nothing but Elvis on Sirius XM radio, have a lot of his CDs, books, etc.

  29. Judy A Kessinger

    Love this idea. Why not make it an idea each month, highlight the hit(s) for the month & year (example January 1957, February 1957, etc.)
    Thank You

  30. Judy A Kessinger

    Thank You

  31. Martie Simmons

    Like so many (millions) others, Elvis was & still is, my Idol. I love all of his songs & so many of them are my favorite! I was so fortunate to have seen him in person, 4 times, in Cleveland, Ohio. Have been to Graceland a # of times & Pray that I can get to stay in the new Mansion.

  32. Love the song Wonder of You. I was very young and listened to songs, my parents played of Elvis. I was born 1958. But became a fan of Elvis as a teen ager. Visited Graceland 2016 – New Years Eve. Stayed at the Guesthouse with husband and other family members. A Christmas Gift from me, to be able to stay at the Guesthouse and visit everything. Loved every minute.

  33. Brian&Gillian Ashcroft

    Great to read about elvis recordings.Can’t wait forAugust when we will be coming to Elvis week travelling fromEngland

  34. Derrell Wright

    I was born in 1937 in a very small S. Car. town, and, guess you could say, grew up with Elvis and all his wonderful music. My wife, Betty, born in the same town in 1942, is truly like so many, thousands a devoted Elvis fan.
    And, we have been to Graceland 5 times or more, mostly in the week celebrating his birth year.
    One day I hope we can visit during Elvis week in August.
    We saw the last (4) show nights that he was in Vegas the latter part of 1976.
    Lowell Hayes made a TCB necklace for me and a TLC necklace with a few months after his death in 1977.
    But, back to your question of my favorite Elvis song, hands down it is “Don’t Be Cruel”

    Sincerely,

    Derrell Wright

    P.S. We are also Graceland Insiders club members.

  35. There used to be a place for “Elvis sightings”! I have a great picture of a re-creation of hound dog, but I don’t see a place to post it??? :(

    https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=410014962674330&id=100009974897087

  36. Thank you enjoyed reading about the songs. Would love more about other of Elvis songs.

  37. Mary Hunter

    Hello,

    By the time Elvis week comes around, will there be tickets available for purchase to allow entry into many of the exhibits including the new museum? Thanks!

  38. Lee Strang

    I have been a fan of Elvis since 1956 when I was 17. Since then I have seen him once in 1976 in Denver and have purchased multiple albums. When I got married in 1980 we used the Hawaiin Wedding song for our wedding.
    Recently bought 3 of his famous Videos. 68 Comeback Special, Elvis via Satellite and Elvis the Way is Is of his Las Vegas shows. Wonderful all of them and still will get the Madison SQ. Grdn one next. I listen to Sirus XM 19 all the time in my car and home. Love all the information from the different disc jockeys that knew Elvis. Lee Strang

  39. Lee Strang

    Would like to know when HURT was first introducted. None of my CDs have that on it. Lee Strang

  40. Love Love “The wonder of You” .. also “In the Ghetto” beautiful!

Leave a Reply to Mary Hunter Cancel reply

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