Elvis Presley’s First Album

“Well it’s a-one for the money…”

So starts an album that changed history – Elvis Presley’s very first album.

With its raw and exciting mix of country and blues, this was one of the first rock ‘n’ roll albums ever made, and it helped catapult the young 21-year-old singer to stardom. “Elvis Presley,” the album, turns 60 years old this month.

On November 21, 1955, Elvis’ contract at Sun was purchased by RCA, and he was officially on a major label. RCA paid $35,000 – an unheard of amount at the time – for the soon-to-be-crowned King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.

Proud mom Gladys Presley gave her son a kiss on the cheek when he signed to RCA.

Proud mom Gladys Presley gave her son a kiss on the cheek when he signed to RCA.

 

This photo was taken in New York in January 1956, just after one of the recording sessions for Elvis' first album.

This photo was taken in New York in January 1956, just after one of the recording sessions for Elvis’ first album.

He’d recorded many songs at Sun, but not all of them had been released by the time he signed with RCA. RCA re-released all five of his original Sun singles on their label in December 1955 after they bought his contract. He had his first RCA recording sessions in January 1956, and he’d cut what would become one of his biggest hits, “Heartbreak Hotel.” As “Heartbreak Hotel” climbed the charts, Elvis also made his national TV debut on the Dorsey Brothers’ “Stage Show,” with six appearances in the first three months of 1956.

To capture some of this early Elvis energy, RCA put together Elvis’ eponymous first album, with a mix of Sun Studio cuts and some of the tunes he’d recorded in those first RCA studio sessions. RCA actually struggled to re-create that clean, crisp Sun sound, so those first few recording sessions took a bit of work on the label’s part.

This is one of several publicity shots made of Elvis shortly after he signed to RCA.

This is one of several publicity shots made of Elvis shortly after he signed to RCA.

“I Love You Because,” “Just Because,” “I’ll Never Let You Go (Little Darlin’)” “Trying to Get to You” and “Blue Moon” were the Sun Studio cuts included on Elvis’ album. “Heartbreak Hotel,” though it was a hit, wasn’t included on the album and remained a single.

“Elvis Presley,” which has gone both Gold and Platinum since its March 23, 1956, release, features one of the most iconic album covers of all time. The famous photo was taken while Elvis and his band were performing in Tampa, Florida, on July 31, 1955. Many other musicians have created their own versions of this cover, like The Clash’s 1979 album “London Calling,” which features “London Calling” in pink and green letters and Clash bassist Paul Simonon smashing his bass on stage at The Palladium in New York City.

This is the original photo - taken in Florida in July 1955 - that is used on Elvis' first album cover.

This is the original photo – taken in Florida in July 1955 – that is used on Elvis’ first album cover.

 

Elvis’ album cover ranks No. 40 in Rolling Stone’s list of Top 100 Album Covers of All Time, and the album itself lands at No. 56 in its Top 500 Albums of All Time list.

In just 12 tracks that span only 28 minutes, Elvis’ first album perfectly captures the potential of the young King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. It proved Elvis could sing anything from exciting, genre-bending tracks to beautiful, haunting ballads.

What’s your favorite track from this album? Vote for your favorite Elvis song from 1956 in our Elvis 1956 Bracket Challenge.

In celebration of this album’s 60th anniversary, the new box set, “The Album Collection,” has just been released. The monumental 60-CD box set includes albums recorded by Elvis and released by RCA, as well as Sun Sessions, his first RCA sessions, soundtrack and live albums and more. Buy it now from Shop Graceland!

Want to know more about Elvis and his music? Visit Graceland!


2 Comments

  1. Marc-A. Comtois

    Memories! Fond memories!! Thank you.

  2. JON CUNNINGHAM

    Rolling Stones rag also puts Bob Dylan and Chuck Berry and others as more influential than Elvis. Its a mag that totally sticks up for the music of the 60’s and always tries to minimize Elvis in order to prop up their own guys. Very bias, very skewed. Ive noticed it time and time again. Just sayin.

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