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. This list only includes numbers that were recorded by someone before Elvis's own version: it does not include numbers that Elvis recorded first. If you have any information or comments, contact me.
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No More recorded by Elvis on Tuesday, 21 March 1961;Studio
Written by: Robertson; Blair
Originally recorded by unidentified artists in 1894
Hear Elvis's version on: Blue Hawaii
The song on which "No More" was based is "La Paloma," written By Sebastián Yradier, a Basque and student of the Madrid Conservatory, who was influenced by the music of Havana, Cuba, during his travels in the 1850s. He wrote the song and performed it for the first time in Havana in 1855; it was first published in 1859. The first sound recording of "La Paloma" was made as a cornet duet by unidentified players for Emil Berliner's United States Gramophone Company on 3 November 1894 (Berliner 243 7-inch disc), but the first vocal recording was by Ferruccio Giannini. His recording was made on 4 May 1896 and was issued on Berliner 913 (7 inch). Giannini was a Italian tenor who emigrated to the USA in 1885 to become one of the first singers to be recorded on disc in 1896. See also "Santa Lucia."
O Come, All Ye Faithful recorded by Elvis on Sunday, 16 May 1971;Studio
Written by: Wade; Oakley
Originally recorded by Brass Quartet from Sousa's Band in 1897
Hear Elvis's version on: Elvis Sings The Wonderful World Of Christmas; If Every Day Was Like Christmas
Englishman John Francis Wade wrote the words and music for "Adeste Fideles;" these were published together in 1782. The original Latin words were translated into English by Frederick Oakley in 1841. Although crooner Bing Crosby famously recorded "O come..." with English words in the 1940s, the number was originally recorded as an instrumental over forty years previously: a "Brass Quartet from Sousa's Band" made the original recording on 22 July 1897 and this was released on Berliner 826 as a 7-inch disc. This recording, titled "Adeste Fidelis," [SIC] is an instrumental version of the number. The Berliner company was also responsible for the first vocal recording of "Adeste Fidelis," [SIC] made on 29 November 1899 by the Original Lyric Trio with William Hooley, and released on Berliner 0771.
Ode To Billie Joe recorded by Elvis on Monday, 11 September 1967;One-liner
Written by: Gentry
Originally recorded by Bobbie Gentry in 1967
Hear Elvis's version on: From Nashville to Memphis (3)
Don't look for this title on the From Nashville To Memphis CD mentioned above, as it is not listed! Elvis gives us just a couple of lines, sung comically, before getting into Hi-Heel Sneakers. Bobbie Gentry, born Roberta Streeter in 1944, never matched the success of her self-penned first hit, "Ode To Billie Joe." But what a song! It won her four Grammy Awards in 1967: Best New Artist, Best Female Vocal Performance, Best Contemporary Female Solo Vocal Performance and Best Arrangement Accompanying A Vocalist. Bobbie Gentry recorded the original version of her self-penned piece of Southern Gothic, "Ode To Billie Joe," on 10 July, 1967, and it was released as a single on Capitol 5950. Elvis seems to have liked the song, too (perhaps because it mentions Tupelo). Not bad for a song that was in fact released as a B-side (the A-side being "Mississippi Delta"). Gentry's single version clocks in at almost four and a quarter minutes, but her original composition had eleven verses and ran around seven minutes.
Oh Happy Day recorded by Elvis on Friday, 7 August 1970;Concert
Written by: Doddridge; Rimbault
Originally recorded by Trinity Choir in 1913
Hear Elvis's version on: Peace In The Valley (3-CD set)
This traditional song became very popular in1969 when The Edwin Hawkins Singers, featuring Dorothy Morgan, scored an international multi-million seller with the number. The Singers had recorded "Oh Happy Day" in 1967, together with seven other traditional gospel songs, in an effort to raise funds for the choir, then known as the Northern California State Youth Choir. The song received a Grammy award for Best Soul Gospel song of 1969. The first known recording, however, dates from July 1913 on Victor 17499. The song uses the words to a mid-18th century hymn by Philip Doddridge, set to a tune by Edward Rimbault, who also added a chorus. Edwin Hawkins' version ignores the verses and only uses Rimbault's chorus, which is repeated often. Elvis never made a studio recording of "Oh Happy day," but he sang it occasionally in concert and thought about using it in his 1968 TV special.
Oh Happy Day (2) recorded by Elvis on Monday, 24 June 1968;One-liner
Written by: Koplow; Reed
Originally recorded by Don Howard in 1952
Hear Elvis's version on: From Burbank To Vegas (unofficial CD)
This is not the same song as the perhaps more famous one best known by The Edwin Hawkins Singers. 18-year old Don Howard Koplow was said to have written "Oh Happy Day" himself. He recorded it in his garage in Cleveland, Ohio and the number was originally released on the Triple A label, but met with very little success until it was picked up by Dave Miller of Essex Records in Philadelphia. It became a huge hit and was covered by numerous other artists at the time. Don Howard was signed to Coral, but did not enjoy another hit. In 1953, Nancy Binns Reed claimed that she had written the song during a summer-camp in the mid-1940s. Later recordings and sheet music included both Koplow's and Reed's names in the credits. The recording by Elvis is an informal one in which he sings just a brief extract of the song during the rehearsal period for the "Singer Presents Elvis" television show. He is known to have sung the song on at least one occasion in concert, on 8 May 1976 in Lake Tahoe.
Oh How I Love Jesus recorded by Elvis on ?, 1966;Informal
Written by: Whitfield
Originally recorded by Frederick Whitfield? in ca.1900
Hear Elvis's version on: In A Private Moment
Frederick Whitfield wrote a very well-known hymn called "Oh How I Love Jesus," which was first published in 1855 (it is also known as "There Is A Name I Love To Hear"). Whitfield was an Anglican clergyman who lived from 1829-1904. In 1855 he published this hymn while still a student at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. Whitfield was born and raised in England. After graduating from Trinity College, he was ordained in the Church of England. Whitfield died in 1904. If a recording exists of Whitfield singing his own composition, I have been unable to locate it. Furthermore, I doubt that it would have been a commercial recording, so there is a question-mark accompanying his name as original artist. Indeed, for such a seemingly popular hymn, "Oh How I Love Jesus" has been recorded by few performers. Elvis's version of this hymn was recorded at home and never intended for commercial release. However, the hymn sung by Elvis in Gospel style and listed as "Oh How I Love Jesus" seems to be an amalgamation of two songs. Certainly, Elvis sings the refrain from Whitfield's composition, but the verse is completely different.
Who really made the first commercial recording?contact me.
Oh Little Town Of Bethlehem recorded by Elvis on Saturday, 7 September 1957;Studio
Written by: Brooks; Redner
Originally recorded by Victor Mixed Chorus in 1912
Hear Elvis's version on: Elvis' Christmas Album; If Every Day Was Like Christmas
The number was written by Phillip Brooks and Lewis Redner in 1868, following a visit by Brooks to Bethlehem in 1865: Brooks first wrote a poem and then asked Redner to put it to music. It was first performed on December 27th 1868. A medley entitled, "Christmas Songs and Carols" and including "Christians, Awake!" "Oh, Little Town Of Bethlehem," "God Rest You, Merry Gentlemen, "The First Nowell," and "Silent Night" was recorded in October 1912 and issued on Victor 31873, with performing credits showing "Victor Mixed Chorus accompaniment by Victor Orchestra."
Old MacDonald recorded by Elvis on Wednesday, 29 June 1966;Studio
Written by: Starr
Originally recorded by The American Quartet in 1923
Hear Elvis's version on: Double Features: Spinout & Double Trouble
Old MacDonald is a popular children's song in English-speaking countries, in which animal sounds are strung together to form a sort of memory game. Fortunately the studio bosses didn't go quite that far with Elvis... A surprising array of artists have recorded various versions of this number, including Frank Sinatra, who had a Billboard Hot 100 charting in 1960 and Tony Curtis, who sang it in the 1963 film "Captain Newman M.D." together with the neuropsychiatric ward, which seems utterly appropriate. The American Quartet consisted of Billy Murray (vocalist: tenor vocal), John Young (vocalist: tenor vocal), Steve Porter (vocalist: baritone vocal) and Donald Chalmers (vocalist: bass vocal) when they recorded their version, titled "Old MacDonald Had a Farm," on 30 October 1923, in Camden, New Jersey. The number was released on the 10" Victor 19265 coupled with "The Green Grass Grew All Around."
Old Shep recorded by Elvis on Sunday, 2 September 1956;Studio
Written by: Foley; Arthur
Originally recorded by Red Foley in 1935
Hear Elvis's version on: Elvis (Rock 'n' Roll no.2); The Complete 50's Masters 2
The story is that Elvis performed this as a ten year old at the Alabama State and Dairy Fair in Tupelo, winning second prize for his performance. Elvis chronicler Bill Burk, however, asserts that his research proves that Elvis came fifth that day and wore glasses, to boot! Red Foley's 1941 Decca recording of "Old Shep" is usually indicated as the original, but Foley had already recorded the number on 9 December 1935 for Conqueror (catalogue number 8631), which it was released on the Melotone label, number 6-03-53. The song, which he wrote in 1933 with Willis Arthur, was about his own German Shepherd, named Hoover, that had been poisened by a neighbour.
Note that some reports refer to Willis Arthur, others to Arthur Willis.contact me.
On The Jericho Road recorded by Elvis on Tuesday, 4 December 1956;Informal
Written by: McCrossman; McCrossman
Originally recorded by Propes Quartet in 1934
Hear Elvis's version on: The Complete Million Dollar Session; The Complete Gospel recordings
"On The Jericho Road" was written by Don and Marguerete McCrossman in 1928. The full title is, "As We Travel Along On The Jericho Road." It was copyrighted in 1933 by the Stamps-Baxter Music Company, with words and music credited to Donald S. McCrossman (what happened to Marguerete?) and with the arrangement credited to Luther G. Presley. The Propes Quartet original version was recorded on 1 August 1934 and released on Bluebird 5612 and Montgomery Ward 4805.
On Top Of Old Smokey recorded by Elvis on Sunday, 2 July 1961;One-liner
Written by: Traditional
Originally recorded by George Reneau in 1925
Hear Elvis's version on: From Hollywood to Vegas (unofficial release)
It is not known who wrote the words of "On Top Of Old Smokey," but the tune is an old folk song from the hills of the American South. It is perhaps best known in the 1951 hit version by the Weavers, a folk group that included Pete Seeger. However, the first recording of the number seems to have been made in October 1925 by George Reneau, who was known as The Blind Musician Of The Smokey Mountains. The track was released on Vocalion 5114. Reneau recorded the number again two years later, as a duo with Lester McFarland, under the name the Gentry Brothers. The tune used for "On Top Of Old Smokey" is very similar to another song called "The Little Mohee" recorded on 21 April 1927 by Buell Kazee for Brunswick. Elvis did not make a full recording of "On Top Of Old Smokey," providing just about 10 seconds of the song during a scene in his 1962 film "Follow That Dream."
One Night recorded by Elvis on Saturday, 23 February 1957;Studio
Written by: Bartholomew; King
Originally recorded by Smiley Lewis in 1955
Hear Elvis's version on: Elvis' Gold Records Volume 2; The Complete 50's Masters 3; ELV1S 30 #1 Hits
Smiley Lewis's original was recorded in October or November 1955 (some sources indicate 25 October) and released in early 1956 on the Imperial label. Elvis's first recording of this number, entitled "One Night Of Sin" and recorded on January 24, 1957, was not released for almost 30 years, being considered too risqué and therefore possibly damaging to his career. This version used Smiley Lewis's original words, referring to "one night of sin is what I'm now paying for;" Elvis re-recorded the number some weeks later, changing this phrase to "one night with you is what I'm now praying for." But you could still understand what he meant...
Only Believe recorded by Elvis on Monday, 8 June 1970;Studio
Written by: Rader
Originally recorded by The Harmonizing Four in 1957
Hear Elvis's version on: Love Letters From Elvis; Amazing Grace (CD2)
This is regarded as Elvis's favourite Hymn from his army days and he had a copy of the Harmonizing Four's recording of it in his German home. Their version, which was titled "All Things Are Possible," was released on the Vee Jay label with Jimmy Jones singing the bass part. Writer Daniel Paul Rader was born in 1878 (though most biographies give 1877 as his year of birth) and lived to be 60 years old. He was a powerful evangelical preacher in the early twentieth century and wrote numerous modern hymns, including "Only Believe," which dates from 1921. The Harmonizing Four recorded the song as "All Things Are Possible" on VeeJay 845; the B-side was "Farther Along," which Elvis also recorded.
Only The Strong Survive recorded by Elvis on Thursday, 20 February 1969;Studio
Written by: Gamble; Huff; Butler
Originally recorded by Jerry Butler in 1968
Hear Elvis's version on: From Elvis in Memphis; From Nashville to Memphis (5)
Jerry Butler, nicknamed "The Iceman" for his cool delivery, recorded "Only The Strong Survive" in November 1968. He had a million-seller with this number in 1969, the same year that Elvis recorded his version. Butler is now a Chicago County Commissioner, but also continues to make records and perform.
Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind recorded by Elvis on Tuesday, 4 December 1956;Informal
Written by: Hunter; Otis
Originally recorded by The Five Keys in 1956
Hear Elvis's version on: The Complete Million Dollar Session
The Five Keys were formed in Virginia. They were originally called the Sentimental Four and consisted of two sets of brothers. Following a change of name and successes in talent contests, they were invited to record for Aladdin Records in Los Angeles in 1951. Their first release, "Glory Of Love," was a hit, but none of their following singles matched that success. The group underwent several personnel changes before moving to Capitol Records in 1954, a move that led to numerous hits, including "Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind," which made number 12 in the R&B charts and number 30 in the pop charts. The Five Kings left Capitol in 1958 and underwent further personnel changes, but no more hits. The Jimmy Wakely number of the same title, released in 1953, seems not to be the same song.
Over The Rainbow recorded by Elvis on Friday, 31 March 1972;One-liner
Written by: Arlen; Harburg
Originally recorded by Judy Garland With Victor Young And His Orchestra in 1939
Hear Elvis's version on: Backstage with Elvis (unofficial CD)
Created in a moment of inspiration, "Over The Rainbow" almost didn't make it to Oz along with Judy Garland in the fantastic 1939 film "The Wizard of Oz"—first of all the lyricist, E. Harburg, didn't think that Harold Arlen's tune fitted the film, then MGM deleted the number from the print three times, before deciding to include it in the final version. The song went on to win an Oscar for the best film song and was later chosen as the best song of the 20th century by the American Record Industry. Garland made an initial recording of "Over The Rainbow" on 7 October 1938 for use in the film, but it was a later studio recording, made on 28 July 1939, that was released as a Decca single (2672) in September 1939, and as part of a 4-disk "Wizard Of Oz" album set the following year. Elvis didn't get too far with the number, singing just one line of it during a performance in 1972.
Padre recorded by Elvis on Saturday, 15 May 1971;Studio
Written by: Larue; Romans; Webster
Originally recorded by Rina Ketty in 1952
Hear Elvis's version on: Elvis (The Fool album)
Jacques Larue and Alain Romans composed the original French version of "Padre." The original title was "Padre Don José." The first recording was made in either 1951 or 1952 by Rina Ketty and was released in 1952. Ketty was an Italian-born singer who moved to France in 1932 and became a popular chansoniste, thanks to some extent to her accent. She is perhaps best remembered for songs such as "Sombreros et Mantilles" and the everlasting "J'attendrai." However, her fame deserted her to a large extent in France after the war and she moved to Québec in 1954, where she continued a successful touring career. She returned to France in the mid 1960s, but to little success, so she decided to retire. Rina Ketty died just before Christmas in 1996. English lyrics to "Padre" were provided in the mid 1950s by Paul Francis Webster. Toni Arden had a million-seller with the number in 1958, reaching number 13 in the Billboard Hot 100. During an interview in 1958, Elvis stated that this was his favourite song. Marty Robbins also had a number 5 hit in 1970. The melody seems to be based, at least in part, on a traditional Mexican song, perhaps dating back to the 19th century, called "La Paloma Azul," the origins of which are difficult to ascertain. The song became known generally when it was used in a program of Mexican music, arranged by Carlos Chávez, in May 1940 at the New York Museum of Modern Art. Chávez included an eight-minute arrangement of the number, which was referred to as being "typical of the genre of peasant sentimental song" in the museum's press release prior to the event.
Peter Gunn Theme recorded by Elvis on Monday, 24 June 1968;Informal
Written by: Mancini
Originally recorded by Ray Anthony And His Orchestra in 1958
Hear Elvis's version on: The Complete Dressing Room Session (MS-001)
Elvis would occasionally play a tune on his guitar while hanging around (contrary to popular opinion, he wasn't at all bad on the instrument—it was his solid rhythm, after all, that drove the early Sun recordings, a fact sadly forgotten by many commentators!). Peter Gunn seems to have been a particularly popular "filler" and the 1968 recording is just the first of several versions available. The original music was the theme tune to a very popular TV show called, surprise surprise, "Peter Gunn" starring Craig Stevens and Lola Albright—who later appeared in Elvis's "Kid Galahad." Henry Mancini, who composed the number, played the TV theme, which he recorded on 26 August 1958, but Ray Anthony recorded his original version three weeks earlier on 4 August, releasing it on Capitol 4041. Pop guitarist Duane Eddy had a big hit in 1960 with the number and the tune has been recorded and re-recorded many times since.
Pieces Of My Life recorded by Elvis on Thursday, 13 March 1975;Studio
Written by: Seals
Originally recorded by Johnny Darrell in 1974
Hear Elvis's version on: Today; Walk A Mile In My Shoes—The Essential 70's Masters Disc 2
Sometime recording artist Troy Seals wrote "Pieces of My Life" in the mid-sixties. Another of Seals's numbers was recorded by Elvis, "There's A Honky Tonk Angel." Johnny Darrell recorded his original version in June 1974 and it was included in his 1975-released Capricorn album, "Waterglass Full Of Whiskey" (CP 0154). A single was also issued on Capricorn CPS 0223.
Please Don't Stop Loving Me recorded by Elvis on Thursday, 13 May 1965;Studio
Written by: Byers (but Panzeri; Salerno)
Originally recorded by Gigliola Cinquetti in 1964
Hear Elvis's version on: Double Features: Frankie and Johnny; Paradise, Hawaiian Style
Author David Bret suggests in his "Elvis, The Hollywood Years" that "Please Don't Stop Loving Me" was based on the Eurovision Song Contest entry for Italy in 1964, "Non ho l'Età (Per Amarti)." Strangely, when I was watching "Frankie and Johnny" a few days later, my wife, not an Elvis fan (poor woman), pointed out that "Please Don't Stop Loving Me" sounded like "Non Ho l'Età." Who am I to argue with two such sources? Indeed, there is a definite resemblance... "Non Ho l'Età" was written by the prolific Italian team of Mario Panzeri and Nicola Salerno. Sung by Gigliola Cinquetti, the song won both the San Remo and the Eurovision song contests of 1964. The title translates literally as "I don't have the age," indicating that the singer is still a minor, but is better expressed as, "I am not old enough." "Please Don't Stop Loving Me" is not an exact copy of "Non Ho l'Età," however: its melody line is undoubtedly the same, but the chorus is different and much simpler than the original. Perhaps in this way Tom Parker hoped to avoid possible copyright infringements; if so, he seemes to have succeded.
Pledging My Love recorded by Elvis on Friday, 29 October 1976;Studio
Written by: Washington; Robey
Originally recorded by Johnny Ace in 1954
Hear Elvis's version on: Moody Blue; Walk A Mile In My Shoes—The Essential 70's Masters Disc 2
Johnny Ace's recording was released just before he killed himself playing Russian Roulette, on Christmas Eve, 1954.
Polk Salad Annie recorded by Elvis on Wednesday, 18 February 1970;Studio
Written by: Tony Joe White
Originally recorded by Tony Joe White in 1968
Hear Elvis's version on: On Stage; Walk A Mile In My Shoes—The Essential 70's Masters Disc 5
Tony Joe White rcorded his own number on Monument in December 1968 and reached number 8 in the US Hot 100 the following year. When interviewed in 2002 for the excellent "Elvis The Man and His Music" magazine, Tony Joe said that he based Annie on someone he knew! Readers of a cullinary bent might be interested to learn that "polk salad" is a corruption of "poke sallet" (or is it the other way round?)—cooked with the green shoots of pokeweed, gathered by rural people in the spring.
Portrait Of My Love recorded by Elvis on early 1970s;Informal
Written by: Ornadel; West
Originally recorded by Matt Monro in 1960
Hear Elvis's version on: Special Delivery From Elvis Presley (unofficial release)
Matt Monro had a British hit with "Portrait of my love" in 1960. The writers are British: Cyril Ornadel and Norman Newell (pseudonym David West). Steve Lawrence took the number into the top ten of the American Hot 100 in 1961. A recording of Elvis singing this song and accompanying himself on the piano was made at a backstage rehearsal in Las Vegas.
Promised Land recorded by Elvis on Saturday, 15 December 1973;Studio
Written by: Berry
Originally recorded by Chuck Berry in 1964
Hear Elvis's version on: Promised Land; Walk A Mile In My Shoes—The Essential 70's Masters Disc 2
The master of Rock 'n' Roll lyrics wrote this during his stay in prison for allegedly transporting a minor across state boundaries. Like almost all of Berry's numbers, it contains some stunning couplets and inventive rhymes. A masterpiece, really. It became his first single after his release from prison. There are suggestions that Chuck "borrowed" the tune of "Wabash Cannonball" for his "Promised Land." Not that "Wabash Cannonball" was an original number itself, it having been based on a song called "The Great Rock Island Route" (again, perhaps based on an earlier melody), first published as sheet music in 1882, with words and music by J. A. Roff. This was rewritten by William Kindt in 1904 as "Wabash Cannon Ball." The first recording seems to have been made by The Carter Family on 24 November 1929, using the now more common title, "Wabash Cannonball." Elvis covered numerous Berry numbers—see also Brown Eyed Handsome Man; Johnny B. Goode; Long Live Rock And Roll (School Days); Maybellene; Memphis, Tennessee; Too Much Monkey Business.
Proud Mary recorded by Elvis on Monday, 16 February 1970;Concert
Written by: John Fogerty
Originally recorded by Creedence Clearwater Revival in 1969
Hear Elvis's version on: On Stage; Walk A Mile In My Shoes—The Essential 70's Masters Disc 5
Writer JohnFogerty was lead singer with Creedence Clearwater Revival. They reached number 2 in the US Hot 100 with this track in 1970.
Puppet On A String recorded by Elvis on Wednesday, 10 June 1964;Studio
Written by: Tepper; Bennett
Originally recorded by Edith McDonald in 1920
Hear Elvis's version on: Girl Happy
"Puppet On A String" from 1920? Well, yes and no. Tepper and Bennett not infrequently resorted to tunes in the public domain when providing numbers for Elvis and this is another of those cases. The melody of Puppet is based on the lullaby "Hush Little Baby," the origins of which are lost in time. The song was collected by Cecil Sharpe in 1916, when it was sung by a Mrs Julia Boone. The first commercial recording appears to have been made on 5 April 1920 for Edison Diamond Discs (80560) by Edith McDonald. The tune and the lyrics have inspired numerous songs, in addition to Elvis's own version, including "Hambone," "Bo Diddley," "Mockingbird" and the 1964 "Fool, Fool, Fool" (a totally different song to Elvis's "Fool, Fool, Fool" of a decade earlier).
Put Your Hand In The Hand recorded by Elvis on Tuesday, 8 June 1971;Studio
Written by: MacLellan
Originally recorded by Anne Murray in 1970
Hear Elvis's version on: Elvis Now; Amazing Grace (CD 2)
Like myself, you might be surprised to learn that this number is so young — I thought it was a gospel traditional! I am sure I was singing it as a child, and that's ages ago! Anyway, a group called "Ocean" had the biggest hit with this number, which they recorded on the Kama Sutra label. Gene MacLellan, who wrote the song, also wrote "Snowbird" for Anne Murray, which was also recorded by Elvis!
Que Sera, Sera recorded by Elvis on April (?), 1959;Informal
Written by: Livingston; Evans
Originally recorded by Doris Day in 1956
Hear Elvis's version on: Greetings From Germany (unofficial CD)
The song was written for Alfred Hitchcock's 1956 remake of his own 1934 film "The Man Who Knew Too Much." The 1956 version starred James Stewart and Doris Day. The song won the Best Song Oscar. Elvis's version is a home recording, made when he was in Germany during his army service, and was never intended for release. Indeed, it has not been released officially and is available only on the above unofficial CD.
Rags To Riches recorded by Elvis on Tuesday, 22 September 1970;Studio
Written by: Adler; Ross
Originally recorded by Tony Bennett with Percy Faith and his Orchestra in 1953
Hear Elvis's version on: Walk A Mile In My Shoes—The Essential 70's Masters Disc 1
Richard Adler and Jerry Ross met in 1950 and after some smaller successes, created this huge hit for Tony Bennett in 1953, remaining at the top of the singles charts in the USA Billboard for no less than eight weeks. Adler and Ross went on to write the score for the musical, "The Pajama Game." Tony Bennett was born Anthony Dominick Benedetto on 3 August, 1926, in Queens, New York. After the war, he concentrated on singing and signed with Columbia Records in 1951, becoming very popular and scoring a number of hits, including his original version of "Rags To Riches," which was recorded on 17 March, 1953 and released as a single on Columbia 40048 later that year. Part of the reason for the great success of "Rags To Riches" was the unusual arrangement provided by Percy Faith, whose orchestra also accompanied Bennett on his recording. Percy Faith was born on 7 April, 1908, in Toronto, Canada. After suffering burns to his hands at the age of eighteen, he turned from being a promising concert pianist to conducting an arranging. He gained fame first with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, but in 1940 moved to Chicago, in the USA (he became a US citizen in 1945). Following a brief period with Decca Records, he moved to Columbia Records, recording his own albums and providing arrangements and accompaniment for pop singers throughout the 1950s and 1960s. Percy Faith died on 9 February, 1976.
Reach Out To Jesus recorded by Elvis on Tuesday, 8 June 1971;Studio
Written by: Carmichael
Originally recorded by The Imperials in 1968
Hear Elvis's version on: Amazing Grace (CD2)
During his career Ralph Carmichael has worked with such names as Nat King Cole, Bing Crisby and Ella Fitzgerald. He also composed the theme music for the TV show "I Love Lucy" and numerous other programmes. In the early 1960s he helped create Light Records/Lexicon Music to promote contemporary Christian music. I have been unable to confirm claims that Carmichael himself recorded "Reach Out To Jesus" in 1968. The Ralph Carmichael organisation only confirms that the song was copyrighted in that year. The honour of having recorded the original version of "Reach Out to Jesus" therefore goes to The Imperials, who included it on their 1968 LP, "The Imperials…Now!" released in Impact HWS 1990. The Imperials backed Elvis on his own version of "Reach Out To Jesus."
Ready Teddy recorded by Elvis on Monday, 3 September 1956;Studio
Written by: Blackwell; Marascalco
Originally recorded by Little Richard in 1956
Hear Elvis's version on: Elvis (Rock 'n' Roll no.2); The Complete 50's Masters 2
Little Richard's "Ready Teddy" was released as one side of his Specialty SP-579 single, the other side being "Rip It Up." What a combination! Elvis covered no less than four Little Richard originals in 1956. In addition to Ready Teddy, see also Long Tall Sally, Rip It Up, and Tutti Frutti.
Reconsider Baby recorded by Elvis on Monday, 4 April 1960;Studio
Written by: Fulson
Originally recorded by Lowell Fulson in 1954
Hear Elvis's version on: Elvis Is Back!; From Nashville to Memphis (1)
Elvis had in fact already recorded this number, though the recording was never really intended for official release. It occurred on Tuesday, December 4, 1956, during the famous "Million Dollar Quartet" session. That recording can be heard on the CD "The Complete 50's Masters" on the fifth CD ("Rare and Rockin'") If anyone doubts that Elvis could sing the Blues, then they clearly have not heard either this number or his "Merry Christmas, Baby." Blues guitarist Lowell Fulson was born in 1921 in Oklahoma. His recording career started in 1946 and his first hit, "Nobody Loves Me," came in 1950—at the time his group included Ray Charles on piano. He had already recorded for several labels when he moved to Checker and recorded his own "Reconsider Baby" on 27 September 1954. Both Fulson and his "Reconsider Baby" were inducted into the R&B Hall Of Fame in 1993. Fulson died in March 1999.
Release Me recorded by Elvis on Wednesday, 18 February 1970;Studio
Written by: Miller; Yount; Williams
Originally recorded by Eddie Miller And His Oklahomans in 1949
Hear Elvis's version on: On Stage
C&W folklore has it that Eddie Miller could find no-one interested in his own number, "Release Me," which he wrote in 1946, so in the end he recorded it himself on Four Star Records in 1949. His original version of his own song was released as a single on 4-Star 1407, but was generally not played because of the apparently risqué number, "Motel Time," on the flip-side. A few years later, Perk Williams, the singer with the Jimmy Heap band, found it and Heap had a minor hit with it, but Ray Price then covered it, too, and had a #1 hit with it and the rest, as they say, is history, for everyone and his mother then recorded the number! Some confusion exists about just who wrote "Release Me." The original 4-Star release showed the writers as Miller, Williams, and Gene (Dub Williams and Bobby Gene Yount were members of the Oklahomans). After the song became a huge success in 1954, however, 4-Star owner Bill McCall decided that he should have his "fair share" of the writing credits, so he bought out Williams' and Gene (Yount)'s share in 1957; Engelbert Humberdinck's massive 1967 version of "Release Me" showed Miller and Stevenson (W.S. Stevenson was a pseudonym frequently used by McCall) in the writers credits. To add to the confusion, the name "Williams" is often substituted by "Pebworth." This is because "Dub Williams" was but the stage name of James W. Pebworth.
Rip It Up recorded by Elvis on Monday, 3 September 1956;Studio
Written by: Marascalco; Blackwell
Originally recorded by Little Richard in 1956
Hear Elvis's version on: Elvis (Rock 'n' Roll no.2); The Complete 50's Masters 2
Little Richard's "Rip It Up" was released as one side of his Specialty SP-579 single, the other side being "Ready Teddy." What a combination! Elvis covered no less than four Little Richard originals in 1956. In addition to Rip It Up, see also Long Tall Sally, Ready Teddy, and Tutti Frutti. The Originals author Arnold Rypens asserts that Elvis was offered this number before Little Richard, but refused it!
Roses Are Red (My Love) recorded by Elvis on Saturday, 22 March 1975;Concert
Written by: Byron; Evans
Originally recorded by Bobby Vinton in 1962
Hear Elvis's version on: Long Lost Songs (unofficial release)
Composed in 1961 by Al Byron and Paul Evans, "Roses Are Red (My Love)" provided Bobby Vinton with a big hit on both sides of the Atlantic and earned him his first gold disc. Elvis never recorded this song in a studio and sang it only very occasionally in concert: he performed it in the Las Vegas midnight show on 22 March 1975; a soundboard recording of this concert exists! Note that Darrell and The Oxford's 1959 recording, "Roses Are Red," is not the same song.
Run On recorded by Elvis on Wednesday, 25 May 1966;Studio
Written by: Traditional
Originally recorded by Golden Gate Quartet in 1946
Hear Elvis's version on: How Great Thou Art; Amazing Grace (CD 1)
Originally called the Golden Gate Jubilee Quartet, the Golden Gate Quartet started singing together in the mid-1930s. They gradually moved from a pure gospel repertoire to include pop and jazz numbers. They moved from the USA to France in 1959 where they enjoyed considerable popularity. The Golden Gate Quartet's original version of this song was recorded on 5 June, 1946 as "God's Gonna Cut You Down" and released on Columbia 37835.
Runaway recorded by Elvis on Friday, 22 August 1969;Concert
Written by: Crook; Shannon
Originally recorded by Del Shannon in 1961
Hear Elvis's version on: On Stage; Collectors Gold—Live In Las Vegas
Del Shannon was born Charles Westover on 30 December, 1934, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and grew up in nearby Coopersville. He was spotted singing with his band in Battle Creek by a disk-jockey and this lead to a recording contract. Shannon's first single, released on Bigtop 3067, was his original version of "Runaway," which he recorded on 24 January, 1961, and which went to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart, staying there for four weeks. The strange sounding instrument used in Del Shannon's original version of "Runaway" (and on many other of his releases) is a Musitron, a sort of forerunner of the synthesizer, created in 1959 by Max Crook, the co-writer of "Runaway." Crook built the instrument around a clavoline, using all sorts of additional electronic and other equipment—he even used springs from a garden gate! Sadly, Del Shannon committed suicide on 8 February, 1990.
Running Scared recorded by Elvis on Sunday, 7 June 1970;One-liner
Written by: Orbison; Melson
Originally recorded by Roy Orbison in 1961
Hear Elvis's version on: Walk A Mile In My Shoes—The Essential 70's Masters Disc 3
Much like with "Ode To Billie Joe," Elvis gives us just one line of "Running Scared" prior to cutting "Tomorrow Never Comes." "Running Scared" was written by Roy Orbison and Joe Melson in 1952. It was Roy's fourth million seller and his first American number one.
San Antonio Rose recorded by Elvis on ?, 1966;Informal
Written by: Wills
Originally recorded by Bob Wills And His Texas Playboys in 1938
Hear Elvis's version on: Home Recordings; Long Lost Songs (on stage)—unofficial release
Bob Wills, the "daddy" of Western Swing wrote and recorded "San Antonio Rose" as an instrumental on 28 November, 1938, together with his group, the Texas Playboys. As was the ownt at the time, the recording was issued as a single on several different labels, including Vocalion 04755, Okeh 04755, Conqueror 9226, and Columbia 37009. The singles normally contained matrix DAL 615, but some issues of Conqueror 9226 used matrix DAL 618 instead. "San Antonio Rose" was based on an old fiddle tune called "Spanish Twostep," Bob Wills took the number and made it his theme song. Two years later Wills rerecorded the number, this time with vocal by Tommy Duncan, as "New San Antonio Rose," released as a single on Okeh 05694. Elvis is known to have sung the song on at least one occasion in concert, in the midnight show on 1 September 1970 in Las Vegas: a recording exists. The version on Home Recordings was made in 1966 at Rocca Place, Hollywood, where Elvis often stayed during filming.
Santa Lucia recorded by Elvis on Wednesday, 10 July 1963;Studio
Written by: Teodoro Cottrau
Originally recorded by Ferruccio Giannini in 1898
Hear Elvis's version on: Elvis For Everyone
Italian Teodoro Cottrau wrote this number in 1850. Elvis's version was sung in "Love In Las Vegas" (US title "Viva Las Vegas"), but not issued on film soundtrack EP. The text used by Elvis is the most common, but is not the original, which was written in a Neapolitan dialect. Giannini's original was recorded on Berliner. Giannini was a Italian tenor who emigrated to the USA in 1885 to become one of the first singers to be recorded on disc in 1896. See also "No More."
Satisfied recorded by Elvis on Friday, 10 September 1954;Studio
Written by: Carson
Originally recorded by Martha Carson in 1951
Hear Elvis's version on: Martha Carson And The Gospel Singers
Martha Carson was born Irene Ambergey in Neon, Kentucky, in 1921. As a small girl she performed on stage with other members of her family and even swapped her pet calf for her first guitar—now that's dedication... She later formed a group with her two sisters and each of them adopted a stage name beginning with the letter "M"—Irene became Martha. Her surname was later changed to Carson when she married James Carson, with whom she appeared as a duo in the 1940s, until they separated in 1950. She wrote and recorded "Satisfied" in 1951. The song has been covered well over a hundred times. Elvis recorded "Satisfied" at Sun Studios, but RCA has been unable to find the number on its Sun tapes! Martha Carson died in December 2004.
Saved recorded by Elvis on Saturday, 22 June 1968;Studio
Written by: Leiber; Stoller
Originally recorded by LaVern Baker in 1960
Hear Elvis's version on: NBC-TV Special
LaVern Baker was born Dolores Williams in 1929. At the end of the 1940s she won her first recording contract with Okeh Records and later moved to Atlantic. There she scored high with Tweedle Dee in 1955. Saved was both written and produced by Leiber and Stoller and her recording was nominated for a Grammy for Best Rhythm and Blues Recording of 1960. Further success was limited, however, and Baker's last chart entry was in 1966 in a duet with Jackie Wilson, Think Twice. LaVern Baker died in 1997.
See See Rider recorded by Elvis on Wednesday, 18 February 1970;Concert
Written by: Rainey; Arant
Originally recorded by Ma Rainey and Her Georgia Jazz Band in 1924
Hear Elvis's version on: Recorded Live On Stage In Memphis; Walk A Mile In My Shoes—The Essential 70's Masters Disc 5
Ma Rainey copyrighted and recorded this number as "See See Rider Blues" in 1924 Other titles used include "C.C. Rider" and "Easy Rider." Various theories exist regarding the significance of the title, but the CC part probably refers to County Circuit. A CC Rider was a County Circuit preacher. The number might be considerably older than Rainey's 1924 recording suggests, as there seems to have been a popular singer called "See See Rider" at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. As the song also appears as "Easy Rider, it is not impossible that both "See See Rider" and "CC Rider" were successful attempts to avoid record company censorship, "easy rider" probably referring to someone easy to jump into bed with, or who performs well in bed. During an interview, however, Peter Fonda (star of the film; "Easy Rider") stated that the film title referred to a pimp who is getting an easy ride in life because he is living off a woman and does not have to work himself.
Send Me Some Lovin' recorded by Elvis on Friday, 17 July 1959;Informal
Written by: Price; Marascalso
Originally recorded by Leo Price in 1956
Hear Elvis's version on: Greetings From Germany (Unofficial CD)
Elvis kept himself amused at times during his army stint in Germany by singing the popular songs of the day or songs that he knew from the past. Occasionally the tape recorder was on and captured these very informal sessions (similar recordings of Elvis exist from other times and locations, too). On one such occasion, Elvis sung this rock'n'roll ballad, written and originally recorded by Leo Price. The number is probably better known in the versions of Little Richard and, of course, Buddy Holly.
But did Leo Price record his own song first, or was it Little Richard?contact me.
Sentimental Me recorded by Elvis on Monday, 13 March 1961;Studio
Written by: Cassin; Morehead
Originally recorded by Ames Brothers in 1949
Hear Elvis's version on: Something For Everybody; From Nashville to Memphis (2)
The Ames brothers recorded "Sentimental Me" on 5 December 1949. Coral quickly released the number, together with "Rag Mop," on Coral CRL9-6140 and by the end of January 1950 it had already entered the Billboard charts, where it remained for 27 weeks, reaching as high as number 3. Both Russ Morgan and Ray Anthony also had hits with it in that same year.
Shake A Hand recorded by Elvis on Wednesday, 12 March 1975;Studio
Written by: Morris
Originally recorded by Faye Adams in 1953
Hear Elvis's version on: Today; Walk A Mile In My Shoes—The Essential 70's Masters Disc 4
Faye Adams was known as the little girl with the big voice. Born as Fay Tuell in about 1925, she was just five years old when she sang togther with her sisters as the Tuell Sisters on the radio. Faye Adams' recording of "Shake A Hand" stayed at the top of the Rhythm and Blues charts for nine consecutive weeks in 1953. She recorded the number first in Montogomery, Alabama, while on tour, singing with Joe Morris and His Blues Cavalcade, and still known as Faye Tuell. Atlantic, Morris's recording label, refused to release the track, however, and it was re-recorded later in the year when Morris moved to Herlad Records, who released it in August 1953.
Shake, Rattle And Roll recorded by Elvis on Friday, 3 February 1956;Studio
Written by: Calhoun
Originally recorded by Joe Turner and His Blues Kings in 1954
Hear Elvis's version on: The Complete 50's Masters 2
Charles Calhoun is the pen-name of Jesse Stone, a pioneer R&B songwriter, who was a major influence on the development of rock 'n' roll. Bill Haley provided a sanitised version of this number for white audiences in 1954. Elvis's 1956 version borrows from both the original and Haley's versions. The first appearance of the phrase, "shake, rattle and roll" on record seems to date back to a number recorded in 1931 by Kansas Joe McCoy and Memphis. (Follow the link for an excellent short essay on Blues roots of rock'n'Roll, part of an equally excellent site on early Blues.)
She Thinks I Still Care recorded by Elvis on Monday, 2 February 1976;Studio
Written by: Lipscomb; Duffy
Originally recorded by George Jones in 1962
Hear Elvis's version on: Moody Blue; Walk A Mile In My Shoes—The Essential 70's Masters Disc 2
George Jones is perhaps less well known outside the USA—I was really only aware of his mid-sixties hit "The Race Is On"—but he has had a long and successful career in C&W music in the USA, with the associated ups and down in both his professional and his private life. His original version of "She Thinks I Still Care" was recorded on 4 January, 1962, and released on United Artists 424 single in February, 1962.
She Wears My Ring recorded by Elvis on Sunday, 16 December 1973;Studio
Written by: Serradell
Originally recorded by U.S. Marine Band in 1897
Hear Elvis's version on: Good Times
The original title of this number is "La Golondrina," Spanish for "The Swallow." The composer, Narciso Serradell Sevilla was born in 1843 in Alvarado, Veracruz. In 1862, when the French invaded Mexico, he wrote "La Golondrina" as his answer to France's imperial eagle. Well, that's one story. Another is that he wrote the number while in exile in France. And there are more stories… The earliest known recording is probably that made by the U.S. Marine Band in either 1896 or 1897 on a two-minute brown wax cylinder for the Columbia Phonograph Company, cylinder number 407. The earliest vocal recording was made by Arturo Adamini for Edison in January 1898 on Edison cylinder 4234. The first English version might be that of soprano Rosa Ponselle in 1934, though this is in fact a radio recording. Felice & Boudleaux Bryant provided the English lyrics. That same year saw a new version by Louis Katzman & His Orchestra. Elvis's version on "Good Times" is an official recording. He had made earlier private recordings of the song, however, and at least one of these, from 1960, has been officially released, this on "Elvis In A Private Moment" on the Follow That Dream collectors label. Elvis must have been quick to pick up on the number then, for the earliest reference I can find to the tune with the more familiar words of "She Wears My Ring" is a recording from that same year by Jimmy Bell.
Shoppin' Around recorded by Elvis on Friday, 6 May 1960;Studio
Written by: Bennett; Schroeder; Tepper
Originally recorded by Joel Grey in 1957
Hear Elvis's version on: G.I. Blues
The 6 May date for Elvis's recording refers to the master take originally released on the G.I. Blues soundtrack album. Earlier takes was made on 27 April 1960 and were released much later on various compilations. Joel Grey's original was released in December 1957 on Capitol 3866. Joel Grey's recording career is overshadowed by his success on stage and screen: he is the same Joel Grey who won a Tony Award for his role as the emcee in the Broadway production of "Cabaret" in 1966 and then an Acadamy Award in 1972 for the same role in the film of the show.
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!