Information about 506 original versions of recordings by singer and entertainer Elvis Presley. See when recorded and by whom, with interesting historical data. Hear soundbites of original versions.
This is the original site of information about original versions of numbers recorded by Elvis Presley, which I began in about 1995. Other sites have copied it, some have translated it, but this site is the one that is best maintained.
WARNING: This site is designed to be used with modern CSS2-compliant browsers. It would appear that you are using an outdated browser. This site will work and look better in a browser that supports web standards, but it is accessible to any browser or Internet device (I think!).
Let It Be Me recorded by Elvis on Tuesday, 17 February 1970;Concert
Written by: Delanoë; Bécaud
Originally recorded by Gilbert Bécaud in 1955 (as Je t'Appartiens)
Hear Elvis's version on: On Stage; Walk A Mile In My Shoes—The Essential 70's Masters Disc 5
Gilbert Bécaud was born François Gilbert Léopold Silly on 24 October, 1927, in Toulon, France. At fifteen years of age, he left school to join the French Resistance of World War II. After the war, he started to write songs and, together with Maurice Vidalin and Marie Bizet, formed a successful trio. Encouraged to be a solo siinger by Edith Piaf, Bécaud soon became popular, with numerous successes throughout the 1950s and into the 1980s. His "Je t'Appartiens," which dates from 1955, was translated into English by Mann Curtis as "Let It Be Me" and was recorded first by Jill Corey (Columbia 4-40878), but later became a huge hit for the Everly Brothers long before Elvis covered it. (Later, his "Et Maintenant" would also be translated into English and covered by Elvis as "What Now My Love.") Gilbert Bécaud died on 18 December, 2001.
Let Me Be There recorded by Elvis on Wednesday, 20 March 1974;Concert
Written by: Rostill
Originally recorded by Olivia Newton John in 1973
Hear Elvis's version on: Moody Blue; Recorded Live On Stage In Memphis
John Rostill was a former member of the famous British guitar group, The Shadows. He died in 1973, aged just 31. See also "If You Love Me (Let Me Know)." Olivia Newton John is a right mixture: she was born on 26 September, 1948, in Cambridge, England of a Welsh father and a German mother. Olivia was taken to Australia when she was 5 years old. After winning an Australian talent contest, she moved back to England in 1965 to try for a career in entertainment. After a not too auspicious start as a member of the group Toomorrow, she finally made the big time, with the 1973 release of "Let Me Be There" being the real turning point.
Life recorded by Elvis on Saturday, 6 June 1970;Studio
Written by: Milete
Originally recorded by Shirl Milete in 1969
Hear Elvis's version on: Walk A Mile In My Shoes—The Essential 70's Masters Disc 1
Milete recorded his own pretentious number for his own LP, released on Poppy PYS-40,005 and titled simply "Shirl Milete." The number was also released as a single by Milete that same year, on Poppy 69-0100. Milete re-recorded "Life" in 1972, following Elvis's minor success with the number, and released this version as a single on Reprise REP 1111. There is a distinct melodic similarity between this number and another Milete composition, "My Little Friend," which Elvis had recorded in 1969.
Lighthouse recorded by Elvis on Friday, 31 March 1972;Informal
Written by: Hinson
Originally recorded by The Hinsons in 1971
Hear Elvis's version on: The Complete On Tour Sessions Vol. 2 (unofficial CD)
Ronny Hinson wrote this modern gospel in 1970 and recorded it with his own group the following year. The group, known as The Hinsons, was made up of Ronny, Larry, Kenny, and Yvonne Hinson. The number was released on the LP "The Hinsons Sing About The Lighthouse" on Calvary Records, STAV 5056. The song went on to win numerous gospel music awards. The LP was later re-released as a CD with the name of the group shown as The Original Hinsons. Elvis's version is an informal recording, never intended for release.
Like A Baby recorded by Elvis on Sunday, 3 April 1960;Studio
Written by: Stone
Originally recorded by Vikki Nelson with The Sounds in 1957
Hear Elvis's version on: Elvis Is Back!
Jesse Stone often wrote for the Clovers and Elvis recorded his "Down In The Alley," which they also recorded. Vikki Nelson had just a few recording sessions for several labels between1952 and 1961, resulting in a mere six single releases. Her original version of "Like A Baby" was released in both 45 and 78 rpm formats on the Vik record label, numbers X-0273 and 4X-0273 respectively.
Listen To The Bells recorded by Elvis on Thursday, 20 May 1971;One-liner
Written by: Abernathy
Originally recorded by The Rangers Quartet in 1947
Hear Elvis's version on: A Hundred Years From Now (Essential Elvis Vol.4)
This number was probably first recorded by The Rangers Quartet in early 1947. Its release on the B-side of Victor 20-2213 was reviewed in Billboard in April 1947. The writer, Lee Roy Abernathy, was considered the best gospel pianist of his time. He played with several gospel groups, incuding the Miracle Men's Quartet and wrote numerous gospel numbers, including "Wonderful Time Up There," for which he is perhaps best known. Elvis's version consists of just an unidentified few lines sung informally before take 9 of "It's Only Love."
Little Cabin On The Hill recorded by Elvis on Thursday, 4 June 1970;Studio
Written by: Monroe; Flatt
Originally recorded by Bill Monroe's Bluegrass Boys in 1947
Hear Elvis's version on: The Complete Million Dollar Session; I'm 10,000 Years Old: Elvis Country; Walk A Mile In My Shoes—The Essential 70's Masters Disc 3
The title on the label of Bill Monroe's recording was "Little Cabin Home On The Hill." Elvis's first recorded version of this number was made on December 4th 1956, when he imitated Bill Monroe during the Million Dollar Quartet session.
Little Darlin' recorded by Elvis on Sunday, 24 April 1977;Studio
Written by: Williams
Originally recorded by The Gladiolas in 1956
Hear Elvis's version on: Moody Blue
Writer Maurice Williams was leader of The Gladiolas. Ernie Young recorded the Gladiolas' version after having asked them to sing their worst song. Elvis seems to have enjoyed the song a lot: not only did he sing it during concerts, when he clearly had great fun with the number, performing it very tongue-in-cheek, but he also sang it at home and several informal recordings of such performances exist, the earliest dating from 1958.
Little Egypt recorded by Elvis on Monday, 2 March 1964;Studio
Written by: Leiber; Stoller
Originally recorded by The Coasters in 1961
Hear Elvis's version on: Double Features: Viva Las Vegas & Roustabout; Roustabout; Command Performances - Disc 2
The Coasters, one of THE groups of the 50s and early 60s, recorded many Leiber and Stoller numbers. "Girls! Girls! Girls!" was another Leiber and Stoller number that both the Coasters and Elvis recorded. The Coasters were formed in 1955 around two former members of the Robins, Carl Gardner and Bobby Nunn. Atlantic Records teamed up Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller with the Coasters and this resulted in numerous successes in the latter part of the 1950s and early 1960s, one of which was the Coasters original 1961 recording of Leiber and Stoller's "Little Egypt," which was released as a single on Atco 6192 in 1961, subtitled "Ying-Yang."
Little Mama recorded by Elvis on Saturday, 5 March 1955;Concert
Written by: Taylor; Carroll; Jesmet
Originally recorded by The Clovers in 1953
Hear Elvis's version on: A Boy From Tupelo
The Clovers formed in 1946 as a four-piece harmony group in Washington, DC. A few years later, they were signed to the still new label, Atlantic, and moved from Ink Spots type ballads to R&B. In 1951 they had a number one hit with "Don't You Know I Love You" and went on to score 19 top ten successes by 1956, when their star slowly began to fade. The Clovers recorded "Little Mama" on 24 September, 1953. The writing credits on the label do not tell the whole story: "Jesmet" was a "pen name" used to refer to Jesse Stone and Ahmet Ertegun. Ertegun had already written numerous songs for The Clovers, but this would be his last for them, as he had to concentrate on the actual running of the Atlantic label, of which he was founder and president. "Litlle Mama" was released as the B-side of Atlantic 1022 in February 1954, coupled with "Lovey Dovey." The recording by Elvis was never intended for release. Other Clovers originals performed by Elvis are "Down In The Alley" and "Fool, Fool, Fool."
Long Black Limousine recorded by Elvis on Monday, 13 January 1969;Studio
Written by: Stovall; George
Originally recorded by Vern Stovall in 1961
Hear Elvis's version on: From Elvis in Memphis; From Nashville to Memphis (4)
Wynn Stewart recorded "Long Black Limousine" in 1958, though this original version was not released until May 2000, when it appeared on the Bear Family Records 2-LP compilation, "Wishful Thinking—The Challenge Years, 1958-1963" (BFD 15261). Writer Vern Stovall released his own version in 1961 on Crest 1080. The number has been recorded by numerous country stars, including Glen Campbell (1962), Jody Miller (1968), Bobby Bare (60's), Rose Maddox (1962) and George Hamilton IV (60's).
Long Live Rock And Roll (School Days) recorded by Elvis on Friday, 6 June 1975;Concert
Written by: Berry
Originally recorded by Chuck Berry in 1957
Hear Elvis's version on: Unsurpassed Masters 4: Las Vegas Hilton 13/12/75
"School Day" or "School Days"? Well, both are used, but the original was released as "School Day (Ring! Ring! Goes The Bell)". The "Long Live Rock And Roll" title that RCA provides is either through ignorance or because Elvis sang merely a part of Chuck Berry's excellent song. If the latter is the case, they might have done better to go with the better-known line "Hail, hail rock and roll!" Berry recorded the anthem on 21 January 1957. Elvis covered numerous Berry numbers — see also Johnny B. Goode; Brown Eyed Handsome Man; Maybellene; Memphis, Tennessee; Promised Land; Too Much Monkey Business.
Long Tall Sally recorded by Elvis on Sunday, 2 September 1956;Studio
Written by: Johnson; Penniman; Blackwell
Originally recorded by Little Richard in 1956
Hear Elvis's version on: Elvis (Rock 'n' Roll no.2); Recorded Live On Stage In Memphis
Little Richard was born Richard Penniman on 5 December, 1932, in Macon, Georgia. in 1947 he was spotted by Sister Rosetta Tharpe when he was singing as a warm-up act prior to her concert at Macon City Auditorium. She invited him to sing during the concert. In late 1951 and early 1952 he recorded eight tracks for RCA Victor, but these enjoyed little success and he moved to Peacock Records, recording a further eight numbers with a group he called The Tempo Toppers. Again, success eluded him, so in 1955 he sent some demo recordings to Specialty Records. In September of that year he recorded his first R&B hit, "Tutti Frutti," quickly followed on 7 February 1956 by "Long Tall Sally," (Specialty SP 572) which was also a Top 10 hit. Hit after hit followed on both sides of the Atlantic. His chart success faded in the early 1960s, but Little Richard's frantic, raucous style is still remembered and he remains one of Rock'n'Roll's true originals. The recording date indicates the "official" recording date, though Elvis was recorded singing this number earlier, when appearing at the Frontier Hotel in Las Vegas, on 6 May. Elvis covered no less than four Little Richard originals in 1956. In addition to "Long Tall Sally;" see also "Ready Teddy," "Rip It Up," and "Tutti Frutti."
Love Coming Down recorded by Elvis on Friday, 6 February 1976;Studio
Written by: Chesnut
Originally recorded by George Jones in 1975
Hear Elvis's version on: From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis Tennessee; Walk A Mile In My Shoes—The Essential 70's Masters Disc 4
Jerry Chesnut also wrote "It's Midnight," "Never Again," "T-R-O-U-B-L-E" and "Woman Without Love," all of which were recorded by Elvis. Chestnut's own original recording of "Love Coming Down" can be heard on the CD "Jerry Chesnut Singing His Songs," which was released in 2004. In an exchange of emails between Jerry Chestnut and myself in 2006, he told me that he considered it one of the best songs he had written. Bear in mind, however, that Chestnut's recording was intended only as a demo. The first recording of the number made with the intention of releasing it commercially was done in about October 1975 by George Jones and appeared on his album, "The Battle," released in 1976 on Epic KE-34034. I therefore choose to designate the George Jones recording as the original.
Love Letters recorded by Elvis on Thursday, 26 May 1966;Studio
Written by: Young; Heyman
Originally recorded by Dick Haymes in 1945
Hear Elvis's version on: Love Letters From Elvis; From Nashville to Memphis (3)
Having succeded Frank Sinatra in both the Harry James and the Tommy Dorsey orchestras, Dick Haymes went solo and turned to acting as well as singing. This number comes from a film of the same name in which he played. Elvis recorded the number first in 1966, but rerecorded it in 1970 (in the early hours of the morning of 8 June). The second recording was made more or less as a favour to pianist David Briggs, who thought he could improve on his earlier performance. Perhaps he did, but Elvis failed to match the simple charm of his 1966 recording.
Love Me recorded by Elvis on Saturday, 1 September 1956;Studio
Written by: Leiber; Stoller
Originally recorded by Willy & Ruth in 1954
Hear Elvis's version on: Elvis' Golden Records; Recorded Live On Stage In Memphis
Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller stand amongst the really important Rock'n'Roll writers, and Elvis recorded a number of their compositions. Apparently they wrote "Love Me" as a country music parody and called it one of the worst songs they'd written. Presumably this was before they had heard Elvis's version! Spark was Leiber and Stoller's own label, set up probably in late 1953. Its releases spanned just two years, 1954 and 1955, with forty-odd singles (45s and 78s) in that time. Almost all of the recordings were written and produced by Leiber and Stoller. Willy and Ruth's original recording of "Love Me" was released as the duo's second single, on Spark 105, in February 1954, so it is possible that it was made as early as 1953. Leiber and Stoller had discovered Willy and Ruth singing with the gospel quintet the Honey Bears. WIlly was one Willie Headen. Willie enjoyed his own solo career, with about a dozen singles and an LP released on the Dootone label from 1954 until 1960, sometimes using the name Willie Hayden. Ruth, on the other hand, seems to be a complete mystery.
Love Me Tender recorded by Elvis on Friday, 24 August 1956;Studio
Written by: Poulton; Matson; Presley
Originally recorded by The American Quartet in 1913
Hear Elvis's version on: The Complete 50's Masters 2; ELV1S 30 #1 Hits
The song Aura Lea, or Aura Lee, was published and copyrighted in 1861, with words by W.W. Fosdick and music by George Poulton, just as the American Civil War was beginning. Frances Farmer sang "Aura Lea" in the 1936 film "Come and Get It!" and this is often cited as the original version. However, I have been unable to find a record release of her number. Furthermore, "Aura Lea" was given new words in 1865 when it became the graduation song of the West Point military academy. This new version of the song was called "Army Blue" and it is still sung at West Point. Although the earliest recording of "Aura Lea" that I can find dates from 1937 (the Shelton Brothers, released on Decca in 1938), "Army Blue" was recorded already on 25 November 1913 by the American Quartet and released on Victor 17500. "Love Me Tender" provided another set of words to the melody of "Aura Lea," supposedly written by Vera Matson though in fact by her husband, Ken Darby. The song was written for Elvis's first film, "The Reno Brothers," but the title of the film was changed to cash in on the popularity of Elvis's rendition. The film was set at the end of the American Civil War, so the period was right for the tune, even if the other songs in the film seemed out of place. Extended information regarding "Love Me Tender."
Love Me, Love The Life I Lead recorded by Elvis on Friday, 21 May 1971;Studio
Written by: Greenaway, Macaulay, Cook
Originally recorded by The Fantastics in 1971
Hear Elvis's version on: Elvis (Fool)
The American group The Fantastics used to be known as The Velours, but changed the name in 1968 and moved to the UK to try their luck in a soul boom there. Their version of this number was released in late 1971 (probably November) on Bell 45157 (or just 157) and on Bell 1202. The songwriting team responsible for the number is almost a pesonification of late-1960s - early-1970s UK pop. Together or separately, they wrote hits for acts such as The Foundations, Long John Baldry, The Hollies, The New Seekers, and many, many more. Indeed, Greenaway and Cook themselves recorded numerous hits under numerous pseudonymns, either as a duo (e.g. David and Jonathan) or as the basis of a group (e.g. White Plains). Roger Greenaway sent a demo of "Love Me, Love The Life I Lead" (made by The Drifters!) to Elvis, but confirms that The Fantastics were responsible for the first commercial recording.
Can you provide a date for the recording by The Fantastics?contact me.
Loving Arms recorded by Elvis on Thursday, 13 December 1973;Studio
Written by: Jans
Originally recorded by Dobie Gray in 1973
Hear Elvis's version on: Good Times; Walk A Mile In My Shoes—The Essential 70's Masters Disc 2
Dobie Gray had a huge success in 1965 with the number "The In Crowd" and is probably still best known for that performance. It is possible that Tom Jans, who wrote "Loving Arms," recorded the number before Dobie Gray. He certainly made the first demo in 1971 and a commercial version some time in 1973 during his sessions at Nashville's Quadraphonic Studios. This was released as a single in 1973 (A&M 1496-s) and as part of the LP "Tom Jans" in 1974.
Can you provide recording dates for the Dobie Gray or the Tom Jans versions?contact me.
MacArthur Park recorded by Elvis on Saturday, 29 June 1968;One-liner
Written by: Webb
Originally recorded by Richard Harris in 1968
Hear Elvis's version on: The Burbank Sessions, Volume 2
The real MacArthur Park is situated at the end of Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles. Jim Webb composed the song and actor Richard Harris recorded it as part of "A Tramp Shining," an album consisting solely of Webb songs in January 1968. Released as a single of over seven minutes playing time, "MacArthur Park" became a massive international hit. It was awarded a Grammy for Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s) of 1968. Elvis sang a few lines of "MacArthur Park" during the taping of the 1968 NBC TV Special. Though not officially released, this extract can be heard on an unofficial recording.
Make Believe recorded by Elvis on Autumn 1960;Informal
Written by: Hammerstein; Kern
Originally recorded by Ben Bernie and His Hotel Roosevelt Orchestra or The Paul Whiteman Orchestra in 1928
Hear Elvis's version on: The Home Recordings
According to the sleeve-notes of "The Home Recordings," this number was recorded in Perugia Way, Bel Air; the book, "A Life In Music," however, gives Monovale Drive, Hollywood, as the recording location. "Make Believe" was written for the musical "Showboat," which was based on the Edna Ferber novel of the same name, and was premiered in 1927 as a Ziegfeld production. The artist responsible for the original recording is a bit of a toss-up, really, as at least two orchestras recorded the number on the same day, 27 January 1928. In addition to The Paul Whiteman Orchestra, Ben Bernie and His Hotel Roosevelt Orchestra (vocal chorus by Scrappy Lambert) also waxed lyrical. Bernie's recording was released as a single on Brunswick 3808. The Whiteman version was released on Victor 25249, but take care, for Whiteman had already released a tune titled "Make Believe" in 1921 (Victor 18742), but this was a completely different number.
Make The World Go Away recorded by Elvis on Sunday, 7 June 1970;Studio
Written by: Cochran
Originally recorded by Ray Price in 1963
Hear Elvis's version on: I'm 10,000 Years Old: Elvis Country; Walk A Mile In My Shoes—The Essential 70's Masters Disc 3
Songwriter Cochran is not Eddie, but Hank, who also wrote Patsy Cline's "I Fall To Pieces." Ray Price's 1963 original, recorded on 30 April 1963, remained unreleased at the time, but later appeared on the Bear Family CD 15843, "Ray Price and The Cherokee Cowboys." On 13 June 1963, he rerecorded the number, and this version was released as a single on Columbia 42827, reaching to number 2 on the Country charts and number 100 on the Pop charts in the USA. The number was also recorded in 1963 by Timi Yuro and Skeeter Davis.
Can you provide a recording date for Timi Yuro's version?contact me.
Mama Don't Dance recorded by Elvis on Wednesday, 20 March 1974;Concert
Written by: Loggins; Messina
Originally recorded by Kenny Loggins and Jim Messina in 1972
Hear Elvis's version on: Recorded Live On Stage In Memphis
Elvis performed this number in Memphis as part of the ultimate Rock 'n' Roll medley, "Long Tall Sally/A Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On/Mama Don't Dance/Flip, Flop and Fly/Jailhouse Rock/Hound Dog". Kenny Loggins and Jim Messina's original, which they also wrote, was released on Columbia 4-45719 as "Your Mama Don't Dance."
Mansion Over The Hilltop recorded by Elvis on Sunday, 30 October 1960;Studio
Written by: Stanphill
Originally recorded by Jimmie Davis with The Anita Kerr SIngers in 1951
Hear Elvis's version on: His Hand In Mine; Amazing Grace (CD 1)
Ira Stanphill wrote over 400 gospel songs and was a well-known singing evangelist. Jimmie Davis was born on 11 September 1899 in Quitman, Louisiana. He had simultaneous careers as a politician and as a country singer. A successful radio singer, he gained further fame with his 1940 recording of "You Are My Sunshine." During his rise to fame he continued working in various local government positions and in 1944 was elected governor of Louisiana. He recorded his version of "Mansion Over The Hilltop" in August 1951 and it was released on Decca 14590. Davis died on 5 November 2000 at the grand old age of 101.
Mary In The Morning recorded by Elvis on Friday, 5 June 1970;Studio
Written by: Cymbal; Rashkow
Originally recorded by Al Martino in 1967
Hear Elvis's version on: That's The Way It Is; Walk A Mile In My Shoes—The Essential 70's Masters Disc 3
Born Alfred Cini in Philadelphia on 7 October, 1927, Al Martino made a little bit of history in 1952 when his first success, "Here In My Heart," took him to the top spot of the UK singles charts, the first American artist to do so. He signed his first record deal in 1950, after having won the "Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts" TV show. Songwriter Johnny Cymbal is perhaps best remembered for his 1963 recording, "Mr. Bass Man." Cymbal was born in Scotland in 1945, but emigrated with his parents to Canada before starting a career in music. Despite his many talents and guises, Cymbal enjoyed little real success. He died in 1993.
Mary Lou Brown recorded by Elvis on ca. 1966;Informal
Written by: Nelson; Hodge
Originally recorded by The By Liners in 1961
Hear Elvis's version on: The Home Recordings
The By Liners seem to have released just one record, containing the original version of "Mary Lou Brown" backed with "Archie's Melody." The record was released in 1961 (recording date unknown) as a 45 RPM on the Felsted label, number 45-8631. Jorgensen lists Red West as the composer, and West is also indicated on the Elvid CD, "The Home Recordings," but the recording label itself gives writing credits to Gerald Nelson and Charles Hodge. Elvis's version was made in about 1966, probably on Red West's tape recorder, and formed part of a number of tapes discovered in Graceland in 1996.
Any details about The By Liners or date of original recording?contact me.
Maybellene recorded by Elvis on Saturday, 20 August 1955;Concert
Written by: Berry
Originally recorded by Chuck Berry in 1955
Hear Elvis's version on: The Complete 50's Masters 5 (Rare and Rockin')
Elvis covered numerous Berry numbers — see also "Brown Eyed Handsome Man," "Johnny B. Goode," "Long Live Rock And Roll (School Days)," "Memphis, Tennessee," "Promised Land," "Too Much Monkey Business." When the original first appeared, it was credited to "Berry, Fratto, Freed". Freed was Alan Freed, the (in)famous New York disk jockey, whose name was added to the credits (unbeknownst to Chuck Berry) probably as a form of payment for plugging the single on his popular radio show; Fratto might be Russ Fratto, the printer who provided Chess with its letterheads, record labels and other stationery. Adding his name to the credits might have been a form of payment for outstanding bills (or ones still to be made). Berry gained sole ownership of his song again in 1986. (Information from "Chuck Berry, The Biography" by John Collis.) There is reason to argue that Chuck's "Maybellene" was not really the original and that the honour should go to a country stomp called "Ida Red," upon which Chuck based his number. "Ida Red" was a lot older, having been recorded already in 1938 by Bob Wills, amongst others.
Memphis, Tennessee recorded by Elvis on Sunday, 12 January 1964;Studio
Written by: Berry
Originally recorded by Chuck Berry in 1958
Hear Elvis's version on: Elvis For Everyone; From Nashville to Memphis (3)
In Chuck's autobiography, he relates how he recorded "Memphis" on a $79 home reel-to-reel tape recorder, working on the number for over a month, starting in July 1958, before taking the tape to Leonard Chess. The list of recording sessions in the book, however, shows 28 September as the recording date, so presumably the track was re-recorded in a more professional setting. There's a story that Elvis had some friends around and played them the acetate of his new recording, "Memphis Tennessee." Presumably he wanted to release it as a single. Unfortunately, one of the guests, Johnny Rivers, liked the number, recorded and released it quickly, and had a number 2 Hot 100 hit with it. Elvis covered numerous Berry numbers — see also Brown Eyed Handsome Man, Johnny B. Goode, Long Live Rock And Roll (School Days), Maybellene; Promised Land, Too Much Monkey Business.
Men With Broken Hearts recorded by Elvis on Tuesday, 11 August 1970;Concert
Written by: Williams
Originally recorded by Hank Williams (as Luke The Drifter) in 1950
Hear Elvis's version on: The Essential 70's Masters (5); Live In Las Vegas (2)
Relatively hard-to-find "spoken-word poem" by the great Hank Williams, which he recorded on 21 December 1950. Williams himself counted it among his favourite songs, and Elvis occasionally recited parts of it during his concert performances in the late 1960s and 1970s. It's been covered by just a handful of artists.
Merry Christmas Baby recorded by Elvis on Saturday, 15 May 1971;Studio
Written by: Baxter; Moore
Originally recorded by Johnny Moore's Three Blazers in 1947
Hear Elvis's version on: Elvis Sings The Wonderful World Of Christmas; If Every Day Was Like Christmas
A real bluesy Christmas number! Compare Elvis's enjoyment in performing this number with similar enjoyment in his own original "Santa Claus Is Back In Town." He clearly enjoyed singing these numbers (and what about D.J. Fontana's opening on the latter?). Then listen to his boredom in numbers such as "Silver Bells" and, would you believe, "Winter Wonderland." No wonder the man had problems! Anyway, This "Merry Christmas Baby" just goes to show what a great Blues singer Elvis could have been (well, WAS, but didn't get enough chance to show it). See also "Reconsider Baby" in this respect. The original version was recorded in 1947 by Johnny Moore's Three Blazers, and featured Charles Brown. It was released on Exclusive, number 254, and reached number 3 on the Billboard R&B chart that Christmas season, charting again in 1948 and 1949.
Milkcow Blues Boogie recorded by Elvis on Friday, 10 December 1954;Studio
Written by: Arnold
Originally recorded by James Kokomo Arnold in 1934 (as Milk Cow Blues)
Hear Elvis's version on: The Sun Sessions CD; The Complete 50's Masters 1
For the writer of "Milk Cow Blues," some sources list "Traditional," presumably meaning they don't know, others indicate Sleepy John Estes, and still others give Kokomo Arnold himself the credit. The song of the same title by Sleepy John Estes is a completely different number, so he, at least, can be eliminated. Arnold's own original recording, made on 10 September, 1934, and released on Decca 7026 (blue label "race" series) that same year, lists Arnold himself as the sole writer. Certainly not traditional was Elvis's breaking into the number after a few seconds to announce, "Hold it fellahs. That don't move me — let's get real, real gone for a change," before increasing the tempo, with Scotty and Bill tagging along. Anyone who thinks that Elvis copied other artists recordings in order to break into the business has clearly not listened to Elvis's early renditions. His own version of this song, for example, bears little resemblance to Kokomo Arnold's original. Rather, it seems to indicate that Elvis had listened to thousands of pieces, some of which had left traces somewhere in his memory, traces he used to create something very different.
Milky White Way recorded by Elvis on Sunday, 30 October 1960;Studio
Written by: Coleman; Gray
Originally recorded by Coleman Brothers in 1944
Hear Elvis's version on: His Hand In Mine; Amazing Grace (CD 1)
The Trumpeteers release of this number reached number 8 in the R&B charts. The lead singer, Joseph Armstrong, was also a member of the Golden Gate Quartet. However, it seems likely that the original recording was made by the Coleman Brothers on the Regis label, as the A-side of record number 108 (S-1073-S). The Coleman Brothers were a truly family group, consisting of brothers Russell, Lander, Wallace, Melvin, and Everettt, along with Danny Evans. Their recording of "Milky White Way" (backed with "We'll Understand") was probably released on Regis, though some sources indicate that the release was prevented by owner of Regis, Irving Berman. The first mention of Regis dates from February 1943 (Billboard) and in 1945 the operation moved from Newark, New Jersey, to New York City, changing its name to Manor Records. The recording was then released on Manor in 1948. The Coleman Brothers also released tracks on Decca before forming their own Coleman label in 1948.
Miracle Of The Rosary recorded by Elvis on Saturday, 15 May 1971;Studio
Written by: Denson
Originally recorded by Lee Denson in 1960
Hear Elvis's version on: Elvis Now
Lee Denson was an early rockabilly wannabe, most famous for his 1957 recording of "New Shoes" on Vik, which featured Eddie Cochran on guitar. His full name is Jesse Lee Denson and together with his brother, James, he recorded as Jesse James for the Kent label. Denson wrote and recorded the original version of this track in 1960, though it seems not to have been released until 1973, when it was issued as a single on Enterprise ENA-9086. Denson was known for his unconfirmed tales of friendship with Elvis and claimed to have taught Elvis to play guitar. Lee Denson died in November 2007. What possessed Elvis to record this number is anyone's guess; perhaps it was just misguided loyalty to someone he once knew in Lauderdale Courts…
Mona Lisa recorded by Elvis on April, 1959;Informal
Written by: Livingston; Evans
Originally recorded by Charlie Spivak and his Orchestra in 1950
Hear Elvis's version on: The Home Recordings
"Mona Lisa" is an Academy Award-winning song written by Ray Evans and Jay Livingston for the 1950 Paramount Pictures film "Captain Carey, U.S.A." The soundtrack version by Nat King Cole spent 8 weeks as #1 in the Billboard chart in the USA in 1950, but Charlie Spivak, together with his orchestra, beat Cole to the studio, recording his instrumental version on 30 January 1950, some five weeks before Cole. Spivak's version was released on London 619, but was overshadowed by trumpeter Harry James's version, which enjoyed some considerable success. Elvis's recording was made on a consumer tape-recorder in his home in Goethestrasse, Bad Nauheim, Germany, during his military service.
Money Honey recorded by Elvis on Tuesday, 10 January 1956;Studio
Written by: Stone
Originally recorded by Clyde McPhatter and The Drifters in 1953
Hear Elvis's version on: Elvis Presley (Rock 'n' Roll no.1); The Complete 50's Masters 1
Clyde McPhatter was the lead singer of the newly-formed Drifters when they recorded the original of "Money Honey" on 9 August, 1953. It was released as a single on Atlantic 1006. Elvis's version was recorded during his first RCA session, with RCA technicians attempting to recreate the Sun sound. Clyde McPhatter joined Billy Ward and the Dominoes in 1950, but left to form the Drifters in 1953: Elvis recorded the Drifters' "Money Honey." Other McPhatter original srecorded by Elvis are "Without Love" and "Such A Night." McPhatter died on 13 June, 1972; he was inducted into the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.
Moody Blue recorded by Elvis on Wednesday, 4 February 1976;Studio
Written by: James
Originally recorded by Mark James in 1974
Hear Elvis's version on: Moody Blue; Walk A Mile In My Shoes—The Essential 70's Masters Disc 2
Francis Rodney Zambon, the writer of "Suspicious Minds" is the real name of Mark James. James was born in 1940 and grew up learning to play violin until he discovered the guitar and formed his own group, "Francis Zambon and the Naturals," recording and releasing a few singles in the late 1950s ("Jive Note" was the first). After his military service, James was offrered a job at American Sound Studios. His own recording of "Moody Blue" was made inititally as a demo, but was then released as a Mercury single (TOS 1055), gaining some success in South Africa. See also "Always On My Mind," "It's Only Love" and "Suspicious Minds."
Moonlight Sonata recorded by Elvis on ?, 1966;Informal
Written by: Beethoven
Originally recorded by Vessella's Italian Band in 1911
Hear Elvis's version on: In A Private Moment
Huh! Elvis does Beethoven? Yes, honestly! Although a self-taught pianist, Elvis was quite a dab-hand on the ivories, apparently. The Moonlight Sonata, or "Sonata quasi una Fantasia," was composed by The Deaf One in 1801. It consists of three movements, Adagio Sostenuto, Allegretto, and Presto. Elvis's somewhat abbreviated version was recorded at home and was never intended for official release. However, this was not the only time that Elvis is known to have played the number for his own pleasure—he was "caught" doing so in a rehearsal room during the filming of his 1968 TV Special and worked on it each night with the Special's arranger, Billy Goldenberg. It was only after some of Elvis's "friends" interrupted them and made some insulting remarks about classical music that Elvis seemed to lose interest. The April 1911 recording by Vessella's Italian Band was released on Victor 31828 and also on Victor 68293, Victor 35426 and Gramophone 2-072, all in 12" format. The band made more than 130 recordings for Victor between March 1911 and January 1914.
Moonlight Swim recorded by Elvis on Wednesday, 22 March 1961;Studio
Written by: Dee; Weisman
Originally recorded by Nick Noble in 1957
Hear Elvis's version on: Blue Hawaii
Nick Noble was born Nicholas Valkan on 21 June, 1926, in Chicago, Illinois. He recorded the original version of "Moonlight Swim" in 1957 (exact date unknown) and the recording was released as a single on Mercury 71169, achieving a US top 40 position in late 1957. Nick Noble died on 24 March, 2012. Interestingly, Tony Perkins (later better known as Psycho star Anthony Perkins) recorded his own version of the song in 1957, too. This was first released that same year on RCA 47-7020 as "Moon-light Swim," but was re-released in 1958 on RCA 47-7295 as "Moonlight Swim."
Can you provide accurate recording dates for the Nick Noble and/or Tony Perkins versions?contact me.
More recorded by Elvis on Thursday, 20 August 1970;Concert
Written by: Newell; Ortolani; Oliviero
Originally recorded by Riz Ortolani & Nino Oliviero in 1962
Hear Elvis's version on: The Monologue LP
"More" was the theme to the Italian film "Mondo Cane." It was written by Riz Ortolani and N. Oliviero, being nominated for an Oscar for Best Song in 1963. The original Italian title was "Ti Guardero' Nel Cuore" and it was recorded as an instrumental. Marcello Ciorciolini provided Italian lyrics and these were adapted into English by Norman Newell. Perhaps Vic Dana's 1963 recording was the first English vocal of "More" and it was released on both an LP (Dolton BLP-2026/BST-8026) and as a single (Dolton 81). Elvis sang a few lines of the song on a number of occasions in concert.
Mother-In-Law recorded by Elvis on Sunday, 7 June 1970;One-liner
Written by: Toussaint
Originally recorded by Ernie K-Doe in 1961
Hear Elvis's version on: Essential Elvis Vol.4 (A Hundred Years From Now)
Elvis offers little more than the title phrase of "Mother-in-Law" just before going into the medley of "Got My Mojo Working/Keep Your Hands Off Of It," but it is recognisable enough to identify the song. Original recording artist Ernie K-Doe was born Ernest Kador in New Orleans, on 22 February 1936. "Mother-In-Law" was by far his biggest success. He went on to become a colourful local personality in New Orleans, having his own radio show, wearing flamboyant outfits, and calling himself the Emperor of the Universe. K-Doe died on 5 July 2001.
Must Jesus Bear The Cross Alone recorded by Elvis on Friday, 31 March 1972;Concert
Written by: Shepherd; Beecher; Allen
Originally recorded by Wiseman Sextet in 1923
Hear Elvis's version on: Amazing Grace (CD 2)
The hymn, "Must Jesus Bear the Cross Alone?" originally read "Shall Simon bear the cross alone, and other saints be free." Thomas Shepherd, the author, used his hymn after preaching about Simon Peter, who was believed to have been crucified upside down. Later, the hymn was altered to refer to Jesus. The hymn was written in 1693. Henry Beecher added further verses in the 19th century. George Allen provided the music usually associated with the hymn in 1844, although it is sometimes also sung to the tune of "Amazing Grace." The Wiseman Sextet made what was probably the first recording of "Must Jesus Bear The Cross Alone" in July 1923. The number was titled "Shine On Me," based on the "Shine On Me" chorus used during the last minute of the recording. It was released as a single on Rainbow 1093. Elvis's concert version was sung as a medley together with "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus" and "Nearer My God To Thee."
My Babe recorded by Elvis on Monday, 25 August 1969;Concert
Written by: Dixon
Originally recorded by Little Walter Jacobs in 1954
Hear Elvis's version on: Elvis Sings The Blues; In Person
Ever heard the gospel number "This Train Don't Carry No Gamblers"? The similarity between this number and "My Babe" is remarkable (see entry for "This Train")! Anyway, Marion "Little Walter" Jacobs is generally considered the greatest blues harmonica player ever. He started playing harmonica as a child, was living basically on the street when he was 12 and by the time he was 17, in 1947, had travelled to Chicago from his native Louisiana, where he started playing and recording with Muddy Waters. Jacobs recorded a number called "Mercy Babe" on 1 July 1954. This was clearly the same number as "My Babe," but this recording was not released until 1990 on the 3-LP box set "The Neglected Masters", Black Gold Heritage 1200-3. However, he rerecorded the number as "My Babe" on 25 January 1955 and this version was released that same year as a single on Checker 811. Little Walter had a history of drink and drug problems and died from injuries sustained in a Chicago street fight, aged just 37, in 1968.
My Baby Left Me recorded by Elvis on Monday, 30 January 1956;Studio
Written by: Crudup
Originally recorded by Arthur"Big Boy" Crudup in 1949
Hear Elvis's version on: For LP Fans Only; Recorded Live On Stage In Memphis
Arthur Crudup was born in 1905. He did not learn to play guitar until he was 32. His records enjoyed considerable success in the Southern states of the USA during the 1940s and early 1950s, but he disappeared from the recording scene in 1954. He enjoyed a career revival with the renewed interest in Blues music in the mid 1960s. Arthur Crudup died in 1974. Trying to point to an "original" version of an Arthur Crudup number is not as easy as it might seem. Old Arthur was able to do a lot with very little material and he seemed to have a basic set of three lyrics and the same number of tunes, which were mixed up in various concoctions, given another title and, hey presto, another song was born. Based, purely on title, Arthur recorded his original of "My Baby Left Me" in 1949, but listen to his "I Want My Lovin'" (date unknown) or "I Don't Know It" (1946) and the significance of "original" takes a nosedive: both songs could serve as the original of "My Baby Left Me" or even "That's All Right Mama." See also So Glad You're Mine and That's All Right Mama.
My Boy recorded by Elvis on Thursday, 13 December 1973;Studio
Written by: Bourtayre; François; Coulter; Martin
Originally recorded by Claude François in 1970
Hear Elvis's version on: Good Times; Walk A Mile In My Shoes—The Essential 70's Masters Disc 2
Although Richard Harris certainly recorded the original English-language version of this number, which was an entry in the 1971 Radio Luxembourg Grand Prix music contest, the "real" original dates to the previous year, when Claude François wrote and recorded "Parce-que Je T'Aime Mon Enfant" (Because I Love You, My Child). Phillip Coulter and Bill Martin provided the English words for Harris's version. Born in Ismaïlia, Egypt, in 1939, Claude Françcois moved to France in 1957. He made his first record in 1961, under the name Koko, and after a slow start went on to become a huge star in France, appearing at the Olympia for the first time in 1964. His success continued into the 1970s, but came to an abrupt end when he was killed, electrocuted in his bath in March 1978. See also "My Way" for another Gallic surprise!
My Country, 'Tis Of Thee recorded by Elvis on Wednesday, 29 July 1970;Informal
Written by: Smith
Originally recorded by Jules Levy in 1893
Hear Elvis's version on: Electrifying (Bilko 5100 unofficial CD)
The melody is the same as that used for "God Save The King/Queen" and dates perhaps back to the 17th century. Words were later provided by Samuel Smith. The first known performance was in Sptember 1745 at the Drury Lane Theatre, London. The tune has been used in numerous countries as national anthem, including Prussia and Russia. Elvis's recording is an informal one made during rehearsals and never intended for release—indeed it has never been officially released and can be found only on the unofficial CD indicated above. Jules Levy was born on 24 April 1838 in London, UK. He was an accomplished cornet player. His Edison version of "My Country, 'Tis Of Thee" was released on a North American Phonograph Company cylinder number 470 in 1893, when it became a very popular recording. Levy died on 28 November 1903 in Chicago.
My Happiness recorded by Elvis on June 1953;Studio
Written by: Peterson; Bergantine
Originally recorded by Jon and Sondra Steele in 1947
Hear Elvis's version on: The Great Performances; The Complete 50's Masters 1
The Rosetta Stone of modern music, the beginning of history, the start of time — this is the first song Elvis recorded and it was done on his own initiative. Many have reported that it was meant as a birthday present for his mother, but this is unlikely as her birthday was some months previous. A gift for his mother, possibly, but Elvis more than likely wanted two things from this initiative: to hear how he sounded on record and to impress Sam Phillips. Phillips wasn't too impressed, however, so Elvis returned later to cut a second personal disk. He still had to wait a year before Phillips called him in for an audition, though, but this $4 "My Happiness," backed with "That's When Your Heartaches Begin," was really the start of it all! The melody of "My Happiness" was written in 1933 and the lyrics over ten years later. It became a million-seller on Damon records D-11133 for the Steeles in 1948, when it also won Billboard's "Record of The Year" award. Jon Steele died in 1987, his wife in 1998.
But did the Marlin Sisters record the number first? (Their recording was made in December 1947.)contact me.
My Heart Cries For You recorded by Elvis on ca. February 1966;Informal
Written by: Faith; Sigman
Originally recorded by Dinah Shore (?) in 1950
Hear Elvis's version on: A Golden Celebration
"My Heart Cries For You" gave Guy Mitchell his first million seller when it reached number 2 in 1951, after having been released in December 1950. However, Dinah Shore recorded the number earlier, on 29 October 1950, just 4 days before Mitchell's own trip to the recording studio. But there's a question-mark, for Vic Damone also recorded the number at about this time and perhaps even earlier than Shore. Unfortunately, data for his Mercury recording session is lacking and so it is not possible to find the date. The song was written by Carl Sigman and Percy Faith, an adaption of the melody from "Chanson de Marie Antoinnette," purported to have been written by the 18th century French queen. Elvis's version is an informal recording, made in Rocca Place, Hollywood. It was discovered on an acetate by Joan Deary of RCA records when she searched Graceland after Elvis's death, in the hope of finding some overlooked recordings.
Can you provide a recording date for the Damone version?contact me.
My Way recorded by Elvis on Thursday, 10 June 1971;Studio
Written by: Revaux; François; Thibaut
Originally recorded by Claude François in 1967
Hear Elvis's version on: Aloha From Hawaii Via Satellite; Walk A Mile In My Shoes—The Essential 70's Masters Disc 4
The song was originally recorded in French by Claude François (see also "My Boy") in 1967, as "Comme d'Habitude." It was first released as a three-track single in November 1967 on the Disques Flèche and Philips label, number 424.550.BE. None other than young David Bowie recorded the first English version of that number (same tune, unrelated lyrics, in other words), titled "Even A Fool Learns To Love," in 1968, though this was not released at the time, as Paul Anka already owned the rights (this led Bowie to write "Life On Mars"). Anka had bought the rights to the song after hearing the French version in 1967. Following a conversation in 1968 with Frank Sinatra, who was toying with the idea of early retirement, he wrote English lyrics to match the melody and came up with "My Way," which he offered to Frank after having recorded it himself (perhaps meant as a demo). Incidentally, Claude François recorded the English version shortly before he was killed in 1978 when a hair-drier fell into his bath water, or when he tried to fix a broken light fitting when standing in the bath (the truth is hard to find!).
Mystery Train recorded by Elvis on Monday, 11 July 1955;Studio
Written by: Parker; Phillips
Originally recorded by Little Junior's Blue Flames in 1953
Hear Elvis's version on: The Sun Sessions CD; The Complete 50's Masters 1
Junior Parker was born Herman Parker on 27 May, 1932, in either Clarksdale, Mississippi, or West Memphis, Arkansas (sources differ). Involved with the Blues since his teenage years, Parker formed his own band, the Blue Flames, in 1951. Sam Phillips signed the band to Sun Records in 1953. The original version of "Mystery Train" was recorded on 5 August, 1953, and released as a single on Sun 192, with the performers listed as Little Junior's Blue Flames (Parker himself was the vocalist). The B-side was "Love My Bay," a strange coupling in some ways, as they were basically the same tunes with different lyrics—"Love My Baby" was played more frantically, however, and the guitar playing on the track clearly influenced that on Elvis's own "Mystery Train" (played there by Scotty Moore).
Nearer My God To Thee recorded by Elvis on Friday, 31 March 1972;Informal
Written by: Flower; Mason
Originally recorded by Various in 1896
Hear Elvis's version on: Amazing Grace (CD2)
The version by Elvis is a rehearsal recording, never intended for release. Poet Sarah Flower (Sarah Fuller Flower Adams) wrote the verses used in this hymn in 1841. Different tunes are used with the words, depending on location and persuasion: in the UK the tune "Horbury," composed by John Dykes, is preferred, but in the US Lowell Mason's "Bethany" is used, so I assume this is what Elvis sings. Flower was an early feminist and the confusion about the tunes (and which was played—or not, as the case may be—on the Titanic as it was sinking) merits a look at this site. The original version of "Nearer My God To Thee" was recorded in 1896, though exactly who gets the honours is uncertain; at least four candidates recorded the number that year: J. W. Myers on a 7" single-sided disc, Berliner 915 (recording made 4 May 1896), Len Spencer and Roger Harding on Columbia, the Edison Concert Band on Edison, and the U.S. Marine Band on Columbia Phonograph Co, cylinder 376.
Can you provide recording dates for the remaining original candidates?contact me.
Thanks to all the people who have provided feedback and additional information that I've been able to use to improve this site and its contents: Garth Bond (UK?), Sebastiano Cecere (Italy), Chris Deakin (UK), Stig Ericsson (Sweden), Mark Hillier (UK), Joop Jansen (Netherlands), Torben Jensen (Denmark), Robin Jones (Saudi Arabia), Bob Moke (USA), Henk Muller (Netherlands), Rami Poutiainen (Finland), Aad Sala (Netherlands), Trevor Simpson (UK), Leroy Smith (Netherlands), Philippe Spard (France), Kris Verdonck (Belgium). If I've forgotten anyone, please forgive me!