Elvis Elvis Presley covered more than 500 originals Presley
The Originals

Information about 514 original versions of recordings by singer and entertainer Elvis Presley. See when the original was 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.

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.

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!).

Last update: Tuesday, 25 July 2023; 514 numbers listed!List available as free ebook (epub format)

Satisfied recorded by Elvis on Friday, 10 September 1954; Studio Original Recording Label of Satisfied by Martha Carson And the Gospel Singers
Written by: Carson
Originally recorded by Martha Carson And the Gospel Singers in 1951 Play button Pause button
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 Original Recording Label of Saved by LaVern Baker
Written by: Leiber; Stoller
Originally recorded by LaVern Baker in 1960 Play button Pause button
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 Original Recording Label of See See Rider by Ma Rainey and Her Georgia Jazz Band
Written by: Rainey; Arant
Originally recorded by Ma Rainey and Her Georgia Jazz Band in 1924 Play button Pause button
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 Play button Pause button
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 Original Recording Label of Sentimental Me by Ames Brothers
Written by: Cassin; Morehead
Originally recorded by Ames Brothers in 1949 Play button Pause button
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 Original Recording Label of Shake A Hand by Faye Adams
Written by: Morris
Originally recorded by Faye Adams in 1953 Play button Pause button
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 Original Recording Label of Shake, Rattle And Roll by Joe Turner and His Blues Kings
Written by: Calhoun
Originally recorded by Joe Turner and His Blues Kings in 1954 Play button Pause button
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. Joe Turner's original version of "Shake, Rattle And Roll" was recorded on 15 February, 1954, and released on Atlantic 1026. Bill Haley provided a sanitised version of this number for white audiences, which he recorded on 7 June, 1954. Elvis's 1956 studio version borrows from both the original and Haley's versions (actually, Elvis had recorded a demo of the song when still at Sun, in 1955, and live recordings, performed in medley with "Flip, Flop And Fly" also exist). The first appearance of the phrase, "shake, rattle and roll" on record seems to date back to a number recorded in 1919 by Al Bernard.
She Thinks I Still Care recorded by Elvis on Monday, 2 February 1976; Studio Original Recording Label of She Thinks I Still Care by George Jones
Written by: Lipscomb; Duffy
Originally recorded by George Jones in 1962 Play button Pause button
George Jones was born on 12 September, 1931, in Saratoga, Texas. He is perhaps less well known outside the USA—I was really only aware of his mid-sixties hit "The Race Is On"—but he enjoyed 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 recording career began in 1954 with Starday Records, but in 1962 he moved to United Artists and immediately recorded his original version of "She Thinks I Still Care" on 4 January, 1962. The number was released as a single on United Artists 424 in February, 1962, and became one of the biggest hits of Jones's career.
George Jones died on 26 April, 2013.
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
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 Original Recording Label of Shoppin' Around by Joel Grey
Written by: Bennett; Schroeder; Tepper
Originally recorded by Joel Grey in 1957 Play button Pause button
Joel Grey was born Joel Katz on 11 April, 1932, in Cleveland, Ohio. He was the son of a well-known Yiddish comedian, Mickey Katz, and soon followed his father into the entertainment industry, with his stage debut at the age of nine, playing Pud in "On Borrowed Time." Joel Grey's original version of "Shoppin' Around" was released in early 1958 on Capitol 21781 (Cat F3866) as the B-side of "Be My Next." It was probably recorded in August 1957, during a session that also included his version of "Moonlight Swim," just a short while after Nick Noble's original.
Joel Grey's pop 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.
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.
Recording date please. contact me.
Show Me Thy Ways, O Lord recorded by Elvis on February 1966; Informal Original Recording Label of Show Me Thy Ways, O Lord by The Statesmen Quartet with Hovie Lister
Written by: Shade
Originally recorded by The Statesmen Quartet with Hovie Lister in 1963 Play button Pause button
The Statesmen Quartet was formed in 1948 by Hovie Lister and the group was a great favourite of Elvis's.
The words of this number are based on Psalm 25.4, "Show me Thy ways, oh Lord, Teach me Thy paths." The music was recorded on 26 June, 1963, and the title first appeared on the RCA Victor LP, "Hovie Lister Sings With His Famous Statesmen Quartet," number LMP (or LSP) 2790, released in 1964. (Note that the original title included, "Oh Lord," as opposed to the "O Lord" used for Elvis's version.)
Elvis's home recording of this number was found in Graceland in 1996. It was probably made on Red West's tape recorder in February 1966.
Silent Night recorded by Elvis on Friday, 6 September 1957; Studio Original Recording Label of Silent Night by Trompeter-Quartett
Written by: Mohr; Gruber
Originally recorded by Trompeter-Quartett in 1890(?) Play button Pause button
The poem "Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht" was written in 1819 (some sources list 1816, others 1818!) by Father Joseph Mohr of the Church of St Nicholas (Sankt Nikolaus-Kirche) in Oberdorf (Oberndorf), Austria. The church organist, Franz Gruber, wrote the music. Rev. John Freeman wrote the English words in 1863. Although the Haydn Quartet might have recorded the earliest version of the song in English in 1905, it had already been recorded in its original German in 1901 on the Zon-O-Phone label by Betsy Schot, who had been born in the Netherlands in about 1850, but had moved to Berlin to advance her career.
Yet another recording preceded even that of Betsy Schot, in fact, though it was made as part of a toy, rather than as a commercial recording in itself. Indeed, this was one of the very earliest disc recordings ever released and dates from about 1890. It was a five-inch/12.5cm. disc, which operated at 100 to 150 rpm and was made of vulcanized rubber. If the record numbers can be taken as a reference, some 860 such recordings were "released" for use on a hand-cranked gramophone toy made by German toy manufacturer, Kämmer & Reinhardt. Both numbers 100 and 584 were single-sided releases of the Trompeter-Quartett playing "Stille Nacht" (the information is included on a printed label on the ungrooved side of the disc).
Silver Bells recorded by Elvis on Saturday, 15 May 1971; Studio Original Recording Label of Silver Bells by Bing Crosby and Carol Richards
Written by: Evans; Livingston
Originally recorded by Bing Crosby and Carol Richards in 1950 Play button Pause button
"Silver Bells" was written for the film, "The Lemon Drop Kid," in which it was sung by Bob Hope and Marilyn Maxwell. Prior to the film's release, however, a recording was made by Bing Crosby together with Carol Richards. Always on the look-out for a new Christmas standard, Bing Crosby picked up on "Silver Bells" and got in touch with Carol Richards to record the number with him. Their original version was released in October 1950 as a single on Decca 9-27229 and became such a success that the scene in which it was featured in "The Lemon Drop Kid" was re-shot in a more elaborate fashion and the publicity for the film emphasised the inclusion of the number. The original title of the song was "Tinkle Bell," but when it was realized that the word "tinkle" was slang for "urination," a hasty rewrite was called for.
Snowbird recorded by Elvis on Tuesday, 22 September 1970; Studio Original Recording Label of Snowbird by Anne Murray
Written by: MacLellan
Originally recorded by Anne Murray in 1969 Play button Pause button
A great big hit for Anne Murray, reaching number 8 in the US Hot 100 and number 10 in the Country charts, but getting to the top of the Adult Contemporary (easy listening) chart. Born Morna Anne Murray in Springhill, Nova Scotia (Canada) on 20 June, 1945, Murray gained fame singing on TV and made her first recordings in 1969. Murray recorded the original version of "Snowbird" in 1969 and it was initially released in Canada that same year on the LP "This Is My Way," on Capitol ST 6330. In July 1970, the number was used as the B-side of a single, with "Just Biding My Time" as the A-side, but it soon gained in popularity and went on to become an international hit.
So Glad You're Mine recorded by Elvis on Monday, 30 January 1956; Studio Original Recording Label of So Glad You're Mine by Arthur Big Boy Crudup
Written by: Crudup
Originally recorded by Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup in 1946 Play button Pause button
Arthur Crudup's original version of "So Glad You're Mine" was recorded on 22 February, 1946 and released as a single on RCA Victor 20-1949. Unlike the other two Crudup numbers he covered, Elvis's version has a substantially different arrangement, omitting the piano. Crudup was born on 24 August, 1905, in Mississippi. His big stature, even as a child, earned him the "Big Boy" name. His first recordings were made in 1942 on the Bluebird label. Royalty disputes with blues producer Lester Melrose kept Arthur Crudup a poor man and it was not until Elvis recorded Crudup's "That's All Right (Mama)," "My Baby Left Me" and later "So Glad You're Mine" that he received the attention and recognition he deserved. Unfortunately, Melrose still did not pay him the money to which he was entitled and Arthur Crudup died a poor man on 28 March 1974.
So High recorded by Elvis on Friday, 27 May 1966; Studio Original Recording Label of So High by Golden Gate Quartet
Written by: Jones
Originally recorded by Golden Gate Quartet in 1947 Play button Pause button
Elvis greatly admired Jimmy Jones, bass singer with the Harmonizing Four (Elvis had a fascination with bass singers and would occasionally try a bass part himself). He wanted Jones to take part in the How Great Thou Art sessions, but the singer could not be located. Nevertheless, Elvis went ahead and recorded Jones's "So High." The number might be attributed in this form to Jones, but it is clearly strongly influenced by the gospel "You Must Come In At The Door," recorded in 1923 by the Wiseman Sextette. The Rev. Gary Davis's "Twelve Gates To The City," which he first recorded in 1935, is also a clear influence. The Golden Gate Quartet recorded their version of the "So High" in April 1947, using the title "High, Low And Wide." The number was released on single, Columbia 37499.
The group began singing together in the mid-1930s as the Golden Gate Jubilee Quartet. Initially a gospel group, they moved into jazz and swing styles during the 1940s whilst continuing their gospel singing. At the end of the 1950s they moved to France, where they remain popular. But the song's trail leads still further back, with much of its structure and lyrics found in Rev. Gary Davis's 1935 recording of "Twelve Gates To The City," with credits going to Bowles, Hoyle and Frye.
Softly And Tenderly recorded by Elvis on Tuesday, 4 December 1956; Informal
Written by: Thompson
Originally recorded by Miss Florence Hinkle & Mr. Harry Macdonough in 1906 Play button Pause button
The earliest known recording was on an Edison 2-min cylinder, number 9367, sung by Florence Hinkle and Harry Macdonough. The words of the number, sung during the "Million Dollar Quartet" jam session in 1956, are based on the biblical text 1 Corinthians 7:24, "Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God."
Florence Hinkle was born on 22 June, 1885, in Columbia, Pennsylvania. She became an operatic soprano and toured with the Metropolitan Opera Company. Florence died on 19 April, 1933.
Harry Macdonough was born John Scantlebury Macdonald on 30 March, 1871, in Hamilton, Ontarion (Canada). He made his first recordings for the Michigan Electric Company in Detroit. These were not intended for sale, but rather for use in the coin-operated playing machines that made up their "phonograph parlours." He started making commercial recordings at the West Orange Edison laboratories in October 1898, as part of The Haydn Quartet. By the time he retired in 1920, he had recorded hundreds of songs, both as a member of ensembles and as a solo artist. As well as being an extremely popular recording personality, Macdonough became heavily involved in the administrative side of the recording business, as an executive with the Victor Talking Machine Company. Harry Macdonough died on 26 September, 1931.
Softly, As I Leave You recorded by Elvis on Saturday, 13 December 1975; Concert Original Recording Label of Softly, As I Leave You by Mina
Written by: de Vita; Calabrese; Shaper
Originally recorded by Mina in 1960 Play button Pause button
"Softly As I Leave You" is the English version of an Italian original, "Piano," recorded in 1960 by the Italian singer Mina. Mina was born Anna Maria Mazzini in the village of Busto Arsizio, in Lombardy, Italy, on 25 March 1940. She became a dominant figure in Italian popular music in the 1960s and '70s, and continues to release albums.
The original English-language version was recorded in 1962 by British singer Matt Monro.
Soldier Boy recorded by Elvis on Sunday, 20 March 1960; Studio Original Recording Label of Soldier Boy by The Four Fellows & Abi Barker Orch.
Written by: Jones; Williams Jr.
Originally recorded by The Four Fellows & Abi Barker Orch. in 1955 Play button Pause button
There were numerous incarnations of the Four Fellows, starting as early as the mid-1940s, before the name was decided upon and the personnel became more or less fixed. After some initial outings on the Derby Records label, the Four Fellows became the first act to be signed to Phil Rose's Glory label. After two unsuccessful single releases (one of which was with Bette McLaurin), the Four Fellows released "Soldier Boy," a song written in 1951 by David Jones and Larry Banks, two of the members of the group (Banks is not credited), when they were serving in Korea. The single, on Glory 234, entered Billboard's R&B charts in July 1955 and remained there for 15 weeks. Although continuing to be popular, the Four Fellows never again emulated the success of "Soldier Boy."
Solitaire recorded by Elvis on Tuesday, 3 February 1976; Studio Original Recording Label of Solitaire by Neil Sedaka
Written by: Sedaka; Cody
Originally recorded by Neil Sedaka in 1972 Play button Pause button
The original version of "Solitaite" appeared on a Neil Sedaka LP by that name that was ony released in Britain on RCA SF 8324. The first single release was by Andy Williams in 1973. "Solitaire" was one of the earliest collaborations between lyricist Phil Cody and Neil Sedaka, who provided the music. According to Sedaka, he was inspired by his classical training and used his studies of Chopin as a guide to setting up the tune, but was also influenced by the music of Roberta Flack and Harry Nilsson.
Somebody Bigger Than You And I recorded by Elvis on Friday, 27 May 1966; Studio Original Recording Label of Somebody Bigger Than You And I by Ink Spots
Written by: Lange; Heath; Burke
Originally recorded by Ink Spots in 1951 Play button Pause button
The Ink Spots might have had the original version, but Elvis was probably more influenced by Jimmy Jones and the Harmonizing Four's version. In any case, the Ink Spots' version was recorded on 15 February 1951 and released just a few weeks later, in April, on Decca 27494. The Ink Spots were formed in the early 1930s in Indianapolis. Their first recording contract was with Victor Records in 1935. The following year, Bill Kenny joined the group, replacing Jack Daniels as lead singer. Kenny sings lead vocals on the Ink Spots' original recording of "Somebody Bigger Than You And I." He left the group in 1953, leading to the disbanding of the group. Kenny died in March 1978.
Something recorded by Elvis on Sunday, 14 January 1973; Concert Original Recording Label of Something by Joe Cocker
Written by: George Harrison
Originally recorded by Joe Cocker in 1969 Play button Pause button
Joe Cocker was born John Robert Cocker on 20 May, 1944, in a suburb of Sheffield, UK. Having played around the pubs of Sheffield, Cocker eventually signed with Decca and released his first single in 1964, a cover of the Beatles' "I'll Cry Instead," under the name Vance Arnold and The Avengers. It was a flop and Decca did not extend his recording contract past 1964. It was not until late 1968 that Cocker finally had recording success, which came with another Beatles' cover, "With A Little Help From My Friends."
As for the original recording of "Something,"—"Why not The Beatles?" I hear you shout! Well, Joe Cocker, the Sheffield Shrieker, recorded his version before The Beatles, though their version was released first. The Beatles started the recording process earlier than Cocker, but did not complete the track until mid August 1969. Some might argue that George Harrison, rather than either Cocker or The Beatles, should be cited as original artist. The solo demo that he made for Cocker on 26 February 1969, was released in 1996 on "Antholgy 3" but it was, of course, never intended for release, so I remain by Joe Cocker. Cocker's own version was first issued on his second LP release, "Joe Cocker!" on Regal Zonophone SRLZ 1011 (A&M in the USA).
Joe Cocker died on 22 December, 2014.
South Of The Border recorded by Elvis on Sunday, 18 March 1962; One-liner Original Recording Label of South Of The Border by The Billy Cotton Band
Written by: Kennedy; Carr
Originally recorded by The Billy Cotton Band in 1939 Play button Pause button
After a false start to Take 4 of his own Mexican-tinted composition "You'll Be Gone", Elvis sings a couple of lines of "South Of The Border" before getting back to "You'll Be Gone." Irish lyricist Jimmy Kennedy wrote the words to "South Of The Border" after having been inspired by a holiday postcard the he had received from Tijuana, Mexico, sent by his sister. Despite the middle-American sound of the tune, it was composed by a Briton, Michael Carr, and recorded first by British entertainment establishment figure, Billy Cotton. The song became hugely popular and was recorded by more than 300 artists. The number was also used in 1939 as the title song to one of Gene Autry's popular films. Numerous other recordings of the number were made around the same time, including those by Kenny Baker (Victor) and Shep Fields (Bluebird).
Spanish Eyes recorded by Elvis on Sunday, 16 December 1973; Studio Original Recording Label of Spanish Eyes by Freddy Quinn
Written by: Kaempfert; Snyder; Singleton
Originally recorded by Freddy Quinn in 1965 Play button Pause button
German big band leader and composer Bert Kaempfert (he also wrote "Strangers In The Night") wrote and recorded this melody as "Moon Over Naples" in 1965, to be the Italian track for his album "The Magical Music Of Faraway Places." Publisher Hal Fein found lyricists Eddie Snyder and Charles Singleton, who liked the idea of a Spanish number and wrote "Spanish Eyes." Bert wrote an arrangement for Freddy Quinn, a German crooner, but neither Polydor nor Decca wanted to release it as a single. Bert and Freddy then re-recorded the track for the Four Corners label when they were on holiday in the USA, where the lyrics were changed from "Spanish Eyes" to "Blue Spanish Eyes," which fit better with the music. Polydor still refused to release the single, but compromised by releasing the version without "blue" as the B-side of Quinn's "Across The Shore." Meanwhile, the Four Corners' release (the "Blue" one) began to do rather well in the USA, but was withdrawn from the market when Polydor and Decca threatened to sue, claiming ownership of the song. Hal Fein then got Al Martino to record the song as an album track, which was released as a single and became a smash hit. Elvis's studio recording of this number might date from 1973, but the version on "Elvis, Live & Unplugged" is a home recording and predates the official version by a month; it was recorded at Linda Thompson's home.
Stagger Lee recorded by Elvis on Thursday, 16 July 1970; Concert Original Recording Label of Stagger Lee by Archibald And His Orchestra
Written by: Traditional
Originally recorded by Archibald And His Orchestra in 1950 Play button Pause button
What a pity Elvis didn't record this properly—his brief performance during an informal jam session promises so much ("Screw Stagger Lee")! How many titles can a song have? This number probably wins the competition with many variations of "Stagger Lee," including "Stack O'Lee," "Stack-a-Lee," "Stagolee" and several others. The song might well relate to an actual event, though the real story has probably been lost in the retelling. Some versions trace the song back to the James Lee House at 239 Adams, Memphis—another Elvis link! Perhaps a more likely origin is the killing of William "Billy" Lyons by Lee Sheldon (who was also known as Stag Lee) after an argument in a saloon in St. Louis in 1895. The first recorded version of the song was probably "Stack O' Lee Blues," a foxtrot by the Fred Waring's Pennsylvanians, which bears no resemblance whatsoever to the tune we know today, so I've discounted it. The first record to be based on the actual killing of Lyons was called "Original Stack O' Lee Blues," made in 1927 by Long Cleve and Little Harvey Hull, the Down Home Boys. This is a great blues number, similar to Mississippi John Hurt's "Louis Collins" (another song about a murder), but again it does not resemble the modern tune. Indeed, despite many sung variations on the theme of the Stagger Lee legend, it was not until Archibald's 1950 recording of his own take on the Stagger Lee myth, called "Stack-A'Lee" ("Stack-A-Lee" on some labels), released as Part 1 and Part 2 on Imperial 5068, that we hear the song with which we are now familiar. Archibald was the performing name of Leon T. Gross. Confusingly, writing credits on the original label show L. T. Gross Sr.; later labels show simply L. Gross. (Lloyd Price's 1958 recording of "Stagger Lee" was clearly the same song, but his releases show writing credits for Price and Logan.) Leon Gross was born in either 1912 or 1916 (sources vary). His biggest success was with "Stack-A-Lee." Gross died on 8 January 1973.
Stand By Me recorded by Elvis on Wednesday, 25 May 1966; Studio Original Recording Label of Stand By Me by Madame Magdalene Tartt Lawrence
Written by: Tindley
Originally recorded by Madame Magdalene Tartt Lawrence in 1922 Play button Pause button
Charles Tindley, the legendary gospel composer, created this number in 1905—he was also responsible for "By And By" and "I'll Overcome Some Day" (later known as "We Shall Overcome"). Madame Magdalene Tartt Lawrence's original recording of "Stand By Me" was made in December 1922 (possibly the 15th), but seems not to have been released until late 1923 or even early 1924—an advertisement for the record was printed in the May 1924 issue of a magazine called "The Crisis." Lawrence's original was made for the Paramount label, matrix G05091 and released as the B-side of "His Eye Is On The Sparrow," Paramount number 12092. The writing credits on the label are erroneously listed as "C. A. Lindley."
Little is known about Magdalene Tartt Lawrence, who was said to have hailed from Mobile, Alabama. She toured the south of the USA, billed as Madame Magdalene Tartt "The Black Swan" and was already singing operatic selections on stage in May 1905 (source: The Original Blues: The Emergence of the Blues in African American Vaudeville). Tartt Lawrence recorded a further four tracks for Paramount in 1925, released on Paramount 12328 and Paramount 12343 under the name Magdalena Lawrence (based on the information contained in The Online Discographical Project (Steven Abrams) and the research of Max Vreede, published in his book Paramount 12000/13000 Series Discography (Storyville, 1971)).
Informal home recordings of Elvis singing "Stand By Me," made during his stay in Germany, also exist.
Additional information about Madame Magdalene Tartt Lawrence? contact me.
Stay Away recorded by Elvis on Monday, 15 January 1968; Studio Original Recording Label of Stay Away by Werrenrath-Dixon-Hooley
Written by: Tepper; Bennett
Originally recorded by Werrenrath-Dixon-Hooley in 1915 Play button Pause button
Some months previously, Elvis had requested a reworking of Greensleeves. An initial attempt, called "Evergreen," was not recorded, but this "Stay Away" was. The origins of "Greensleeves" are not clear and it is often listed as "traditional" or "anon." One story credits Henry VIII as having composed it for Anne Boleyn. It first appeared in print in 1580 during the reign of Elizabeth I.
Victor 17724 contained four songs taken from a collection indicated on the label as "50 Shakespeare Songs" and, indeed, Shakespeare himself is included in the writing credits for each number. The vocalists are indicated on the label as Reinald Werrenrath, Raymond Dixon and William Hooley. One of the two tracks on the B-side is a solo performance of "Greensleeves" (indicated as "Green-sleeves"), but just who the soloist was is not stated. The recording was made on 21 January, 1915.
Is there an earlier recording of "Greensleeves"? contact me.
Stay Away, Joe recorded by Elvis on Sunday, 1 October 1967; Studio
Written by: Weisman; Wayne
Originally recorded by James "Iron Head" Baker in 1933 Play button Pause button
Intentionally or not, the writers of this Elvis track seem to have been at the very least inspired by the old slave song, "Pick A Bale O' Cotton." The origins of the song are uncertain and there seems to be no reference of it before the 1930s. In December 1933, the folklorist John Lomax, as part of his field recordings, recorded the convict James "Iron Head" Baker performing a version of the number. That recording was released in 1997 on the Document Records CD, "Field Recordings Vol. 13."
Steamroller Blues recorded by Elvis on Sunday, 14 January 1973; Concert Original Recording Label of Steamroller Blues by The Masqueraders
Written by: Taylor
Originally recorded by The Masqueraders in 1968 Play button Pause button
Although never making the big time, the Masqueraders survived for over twenty years, through personnel and name changes. Their beginnings can be traced back to 1958, when Robert Wrightsil and Charlie Moore formed a group with other school friends, calling themselves the Stairs. They performed locally during the next two years and eventually changed their name to the Masqueraders. The early recording career of the group is something of a mystery: it is possible that the Stairs released a couple of singles in 1959 and that the first Masqueraders release was as early as 1963. From 1965 to 1980, however, they had fairly regular single releases on a number of labels, without ever finding significant success. In 1968 the group tried its luck at Chip Moman's studio in Memphis and it was probably there that they recorded the original version of "Steamroller," which was released as a single on Bell 932.

James Taylor wrote "Steamroller" as a parody on the music of what he termed the "so-called blues groups in New York City," who were "making a lot of noise with electric guitars and amplifiers that their parents had bought them for Christmas and birthdays…" (James Taylor/Joni Mitchell BBC radio show, 1970). James Taylor's composition was called simply "Steamroller."
Stop, Look And Listen recorded by Elvis on Wednesday, 16 February 1966; Studio Original Recording Label of Stop, Look And Listen by Rick Nelson
Written by: Byers
Originally recorded by Rick Nelson in 1964 Play button Pause button
Born in 1940, Rick Nelson appeared with his parents in their 1950s TV show, "The Adventures Of Ozzie And Harriet." His recording career began in 1957 and the following year he formed his own band, which included James Burton, who would later become a fixed member of Elvis's band. His soft version of rock'n'roll and clean ballads left him without hits after the early 1960s. During this time, he released his album, "Spotlight On Rick" (Decca DL 4608), which included the track, "Stop, Look And Listen." Despite his lack of success, he continued recording, forming a new group called "The Stone Canyon Band," but was disappointed by the reception to his new style when he performed in Madison Square Garden in 1971. As a reaction, he wrote and released "Garden Party" in the early 1970s, a song that ironically became a million-seller and his last hit. Ricky Nelson died in a plane crash on 31 December 1985.
Stranger In My Own Home Town recorded by Elvis on Monday, 17 February 1969; Studio Original Recording Label of Stranger In My Own Home Town by Percy Mayfield
Written by: Mayfield
Originally recorded by Percy Mayfield in 1963 Play button Pause button
Percy Mayfield was born on 12 August, 1920, in Louisiana. He formed his own band in 1942 and achieved huge US success in 1950 with the million-seller "Please Send Me Someone To Love." This was followed by a run of hits, but in 1952 Mayfield was involved in a serious motoring accident, which left his face disfigured. Ray Charles hired Mayfield as a songwriter in the late 1950s and was rewarded with the Mayfield-written international bestseller "Hit The Road Jack." Percy Mayfield's 1963 original recording of the self-composed "Stranger In My Home Town" was released on Tangerine Record Corporation TRC 941. Mayfield died on 11 August, 1984, just one day before his 64th birthday.
Such A Night recorded by Elvis on Monday, 4 April 1960; Studio Original Recording Label of Such A Night by Clyde McPhatter and the Drifters
Written by: Chase
Originally recorded by Clyde McPhatter and the Drifters in 1953 Play button Pause button
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 originals recorded by Elvis are "Money Honey" and "Without Love." The original recording was made for Atlantic Records on 12 November, 1953, and it was released in the first week of 1954 on Atlantic 1019, in both 45 and 78rpm formats.
Numerous covers were made in 1954, but the best known is probably Johnny Ray's, which reached the top of the UK charts (perhaps aided by the fact that the lyrics were considered suggestive and the record was therefore not allowed to be played by the BBC).
McPhatter died on June 13, 1971; he was inducted into the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.
Summertime Has Passed And Gone recorded by Elvis on Tuesday, 4 December 1956; Informal Original Recording Label of Summertime Has Passed And Gone by Bill Monroe and The Bluegrass Boys
Written by: Monroe
Originally recorded by Bill Monroe and The Bluegrass Boys in 1946 Play button Pause button
Bill Monroe was born William Smith Monroe on 13 September, 1911, near Rosine, Kentucky. When working at an oilrefinery in Indiana in 1929, Monroe gained local fame with his brother Charlie, as The Monroe Brothers, eventually recording some 60 numbers for the Bluebird label between 1936 and 1938. The brothers disbanded in 1938 and Bill went on to form the Blue Grass Boys and gain a place on the Grand Ole Opry. By the end of 1945, the band included such names as Earl Scruggs and Lester Flatt. Between 1946 and 1947, Monroe and his Blue Grass Boys recorded 28 songs for Columbia Records, including the original versions of "Summertime Is Past And Gone" and "Blue Moon Of Kentucky." After the breakup of this "original Bluegrass band," Monroe moved to Decca and formed another Blue Grass Boys lineup, yet again garnering extraordinary success.
Elvis imitated Monroe's delivery during the so-called "Million Dollar Quartet" session. The number is also listed as "Summertime Is Past and Gone."
Bill Monroe died on 9 September, 1996.
Surrender recorded by Elvis on Sunday, 30 October 1960; Studio Original Recording Label of Surrender by Mario Massa
Written by: G.D. de Curtis; E de Curtis; Pomus; Shuman
Originally recorded by Mario Massa in 1905 Play button Pause button
Originally titled "Torna a Surriento" and first published in 1904. Most sources relate that the first recorded version was made in 1911 by Enrico Caruso for Victor. Not so. In fact, although Caruso performed the number, it seems he never recorded it! Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman wrote new words for Elvis's version in 1960. Versions with different words were recorded earlier, including one by Toni Arden in 1951. The original is actually dedicated to a man: in the September 1902, Prime Minister Giuseppe Zanardelli made an official visit to Sorrento. He stayed in a hotel, where Giambattista de Curtis worked as a painter. At the time, Sorrento was a mess, with bad roads, derelict houses and non-existent services. To encourage Zanardelli to improve conditions soon, de Curtis (Giambattista and Ernesto) wrote and dedicated this song to him, pleading that he return to a reconstructed and beautiful Sorrento. The song was written in just a few hours, but was modified soon after to produce the familiar version. Mario Massa carries the honour as first to record the number. He did so in June 1905 in Milan. His recording was issued on Odeon X37125.
Susan When She Tried recorded by Elvis on Tuesday, 11 March 1975; Studio Original Recording Label of Susan When She Tried by Statler Brothers
Written by: Reid
Originally recorded by Statler Brothers in 1974 Play button Pause button
Composer Don Reid was a member of the Statler Brothers. Interestingly, none of the Statler brothers was a Statler! The group took its name from a box of paper hankies. Their greatest international success came with "Flowers On The Wall" in 1964.
Susie-Q recorded by Elvis on Sunday, 20 July 1975; One-liner Original Recording Label of Susie-Q by Dale Hawkins
Written by: Hawkins; Lewis; Broadwater
Originally recorded by Dale Hawkins in 1957 Play button Pause button
"Susie-Q" was a hit for Dale Hawkins (1936—2010) in 1957. He composed the number, together with Stanley Lewis and Eleanor Broadwater. Elvis's concert guitarist, James Burton, played lead on the recording. He explained his own part in its genesis in an interview with Roger Catlin of the Hartford Courant: "I was 15," Burton says. "It was a little instrumental thing I played. When I met Dale Hawkins, he had a blues band. I played this instrumental thing in different places we'd play, and it became so popular—it had such a good dance feel, with a good funky beat in there—Dale said 'I need to write some lyrics to this.' So Dale did." Elvis sang just a snatch of "Susie-Q" during the afternoon performance in Norfolk Virginia on July 20th 1975.
Suspicious Minds recorded by Elvis on Thursday, 23 January 1969; Studio Original Recording Label of Suspicious Minds by Mark James
Written by: Zambon
Originally recorded by Mark James in 1968 Play button Pause button
Francis Rodney Zambon is the real name of Mark James, the writer of "Suspicious Minds." Zambon 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 offered a job at American Sound Studios and went on to write "Suspicious Minds," releasing his own version on the Scepter label, but with very little success. See also "Always On My Mind," "It's Only Love" and "Moody Blue."
Sweet Angeline recorded by Elvis on Tuesday, 24 July 1973; Studio Original Recording Label of Sweet Angeline by Arnold, Martin, Morrow
Written by: Arnold, Martin, Morrow
Originally recorded by Arnold, Martin, Morrow in 1971 Play button Pause button
Chris Arnold, David Martin and Geoff Morrow were prolific British pop song writers from the mid 1960s to the mid 1980s, having their songs performed by artists as diverse as Cilla Black, Barry Mannilow, The Carpenters, and Bruce Forsyth. They also recorded a few numbers themselves, one of which was their own "Sweet Angeline," released in late 1971 on the Bell label, number BLL 1183. Elvis recorded several other Arnold, Martin, and Morrow compositions: "Just A Little Bit Of Green," "This Is The Story" and "Let's Be Friends."
Sweet Caroline recorded by Elvis on Monday, 16 February 1970; Concert Original Recording Label of Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond
Written by: Neil Diamond
Originally recorded by Neil Diamond in 1969 Play button Pause button
Diamond himself reached number 4 in the US Hot 100 with this number. Elvis also recorded Neil Diamond's "And The Grass Won't Pay No Mind," which appeared on the original pressing of Diamond's 1969 LP release, "Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show." "Sweet Caroline" was first issued as a single, on UNI 55136 (with its full title of "Sweet Caroline (Good Times Never Seemed So Good)"), but, because of its success, was added to later pressings of the "Brother Love" album. It had long been assumed that the song was an ode to Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of the late John F. Kennedy, but in October 2014, during an appearance on the "Today" show, Diamond revealed that the song was, in fact, about his wife at the time, whose name was Marsha: he needed a three-syllable name, however.
Elvis's recording of "Sweet Caroline" was made during the dinner show concert at the International Hotel, Las Vegas, on 16 February, 1970.
Sweet Inspiration recorded by Elvis on Thursday, 20 August 1970; Concert Original Recording Label of Sweet Inspiration by Sweet Inspirations
Written by: Pennington; Oldham
Originally recorded by Sweet Inspirations in 1967 Play button Pause button
The group who appeared with Elvis so often during his later years, the Sweet Inspirations, had a number 5 R&B hit with their original recording of "Sweet Inspiration" in 1968. The number was recorded in Memphis on 24 August 1967 and released on Atlantic 45-2476. The opening instrumental bars are remarkably similar to those used in Elvis's "Suspicious Minds."
At the time of their recording, the Sweet Inspirations consisted of Cissy Houston, Estelle Brown, Sylvia Shemwell, and Myrna Smith. Cissy Houston was Whitney Houston's mother.
Sweet Leilani recorded by Elvis on ?, 1960; Informal Original Recording Label of Sweet Leilani by Sol Hoopii and his Novelty Quartet
Written by: Owens
Originally recorded by Sol Hoopii and his Novelty Quartet in 1935 Play button Pause button
Though best known for his "Hawaiian" music, Harry Owens was born in Nebraska. However, he became musical director of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, Honolulu, in 1934, where he mixed traditional instruments with those more commonly used by American dance bands. That same year he wrote "Sweet Leilani" for his daughter. The name Leilani is made up of two Hawaiian words, Lani, meaning heavenly, and lei, meaning a wreath or garland of flowers. Sol Ho'opi'i recorded the number on 6 October 1935, the recording being released on Brunswick 55085 with the title "Leilani (Wreath of Heaven)." Sol Ho'opi'i is considered to have been one of the greatest exponents of the Hawaiian guitar and was at least influential in the development of the electric guitar in the early 1940s.
"Sweet Leilani" became a big hit for Bing Crosby in 1937, when he sang it in the film "Waikiki Wedding," earning an Academy Award for Song of the Year and giving Crosby his first gold record.
Elvis's version is a home recording, never intended for release.
But did Harry Owens himself record an earlier version (I know he recorded the number in the 1940s)? contact me.
Sweet, Sweet Spirit recorded by Elvis on Thursday, 30 March 1972; Concert Original Recording Label of Sweet, Sweet Spirit by Doris Akers & The Statesmen Quartet
Written by: Akers
Originally recorded by Doris Akers & The Statesmen Quartet in 1964 Play button Pause button
Doris Akers, born in Brookfield, Missouri, in 1923, moved to Los Angeles when she was 22 years of age to become intimately involved in gospel music. "Sweet, Sweet Spirit" was written by Akers in 1962. She recorded the number herself together with the Statesmen Quartet, releasing it on the LP, "Doris Akers & The Statesmen Quartet Sing For You" on RCA LPM 2936.
Doris Akers died in July 1995 and was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2001.
"Sweet, Sweet Spirit" was often sung in Elvis concerts, but not by Elvis. Instead, he would ask one of his backing groups, The Stamps, to perform the number, while he simply watched in admiration. During rehearsals, Elvis had the habit of singing many gospel numbers with members of his concert party; some of these rehearsals were recorded and thanks to this a very brief passage of "Sweet, Sweet Spirit," sung by Elvis, can be heard on an unofficial release.
Sweetheart You Done Me Wrong recorded by Elvis on Tuesday, 4 December 1956; Informal Original Recording Label of Sweetheart You Done Me Wrong by Bill Monroe
Written by: Monroe
Originally recorded by Bill Monroe in 1947 Play button Pause button
Bill Monroe was born William Smith Monroe on 13 September, 1911, near Rosine, Kentucky. Having moved to Indiana in 1929, Monroe and friend Larry Moore formed The Monroe Brothers, first playing local dances, but later moving to radio. The Monroe Brothers were signed by RCA Victor in 1936, with whom they enjoyed success on the Bluebird label. The group disbanded in 1938 and Monroe formed the Blue Grass Boys. This group underwent various incarnations and in 1945 was dubbed "the Original Bluegrass Band." By that time the group was recording for Columbia and its members included the likes of Earl Scruggs and Lester Flatt, alongside Monroe's own signature mandolin playing.
It was this lineup that recorded "Sweetheart You Done Me Wrong" on 27 October, 1947, "Sweetheart You Done Me Wrong" was released on 12 April, 1948, on the 78rpm Columbia 38172, as the B-side of "My Rose Of Old Kentucky." Personnel: Lester Flatt, lead vocal & guitar; Bill Monroe, tenor vocal & mandolin; Chubby Wise, fiddle; Earl Scruggs, banjo; Howard Watts (Cedric Rainwater), string bass.
This same group was also responsible for the original version of "Blue Moon Of Kentucky."
Bill Monroe died on 9 September 1996.
Swing Down Sweet Chariot recorded by Elvis on Monday, 31 October 1960; Studio Original Recording Label of Swing Down Sweet Chariot by Golden Gate Quartet
Written by: Traditional
Originally recorded by Golden Gate Quartet in 1946 Play button Pause button
The first commercially recorded version of "Swing Down Sweet Chariot" seems to have been made by the Golden Gate Quartet on 5 June 1946, as "Swing Down, Chariot" (matrix CO 36387). The number was coupled with "Blind Barnabus" and released as a 78rpm single on Columbia 37834 (Columbia D.C. 505 in the UK, where it was instead coupled with "Joshua Fit The Battle Of Jericho"). An earlier recording of the song was made in 1941 by the Mississippi Gospel Singers, but this was probably a field recording, not intended for commercial release.
A different version of "Swing Down Sweet Chariot" was recorded by Elvis for the film "The Trouble With Girls" and was not officially released until 1995 on the CD, "Double Features: Live a Little, Love a Little; Charro!; The Trouble With Girls; Change of Habit."
Elvis's knowledge of spirituals was huge, of course, and he once auditioned for a gospel group in Memphis. He apparently learned "Swing Down Sweet Chariot" from the Golden Gate Quartet in Paris, where he saw them perform and sang together with them in private after their show ("A Life In Music," Jorgensen).
(Note that "Swing Down Sweet Chariot" should not be confused with the similarly titled "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot," a rugby match favourite, even if the two numbers are occasionally used in a medley with each other. For the record, the earliest recording of the "Swing Low" number was made in or around late 1895 by the Standard Quartette.)
Take Good Care Of Her recorded by Elvis on Saturday, 21 July 1973; Studio Original Recording Label of Take Good Care Of Her by Adam Wade with the George Paxton Orchestra and Chorus
Written by: Warren; Kent
Originally recorded by Adam Wade with the George Paxton Orchestra and Chorus in 1961 Play button Pause button
Adam Wade was born Patrick Henry Wade on 17 March, 1935, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. In the 1950s, Wade worked as a laboratory assistant for Dr. J. Salk, who developed the polio vaccine. Preferring the idea of a performing career, Wade signed with Coed Records in late 1959 and became a popular vocalist in the early 1960s. His original recording of "Take Good Care Of Her" enjoyed success on both sides of the Atlantic in 1961. It was first released as a single on Coed CD 546. Wade released his own version of "Crying In The Chapel" in 1965, by which time he had moved to Epic Records. Wade's ventures into acting in the late 1960s and 1970s, in both film and television, led him to become the first African-American host in the USA of a national game show, Musical Chairs, in 1975.
Take My Hand, Precious Lord recorded by Elvis on Sunday, 13 January 1957; Studio Original Recording Label of Take My Hand, Precious Lord by Heavenly Gospel Singers
Written by: Dorsey
Originally recorded by Heavenly Gospel Singers in 1937 Play button Pause button
Thomas Dorsey wrote this number following the deaths of his first wife and baby daughter in 1932. Dorsey wrote of the song, "This is the greatest song I have written out of near four hundred." The Heavenly Gospel Singers were formed in Detroit in 1927, but used the name for the group only from 1933. After considerable success while on tour, the group was given a recording contract in 1935. The Heavenly Gospel Singers made the original recording of "Take My Hand, Precious Lord" on 16 February, 1937; it was issued as "Precious Lord, Take My Hand" on Bluebird B6846. That same year the Heavenly Gospel Singers made the first recording of "Bosom of Abraham," under the title "Rock My Soul." The Heavenly Gospel Singers continued with numerous personnel changes until the early 1950s, when they disbanded. The Golden Gate Quartet also recorded the number in 1939 and the phrasing they use is very similar to that used by Elvis. Thomas Dorsey died in 1993.
Take These Chains From My Heart recorded by Elvis on Wednesday, 21 August 1974; Concert Original Recording Label of Take These Chains From My Heart by Hank Williams
Written by: Heath; Rose
Originally recorded by Hank Williams in 1952 Play button Pause button
Written by Hy Heath and Fred Rose, "Take These Chains From My Heart" was first recorded by Hank Williams on 23 September 1952. It was not released until 24 April 1953, almost 4 months after Williams' death on New Year's Day. It reached number one on Billboard's "Country and Western Records Most Played by Disc Jockeys" chart. Elvis sings a couple of lines of the song during the band introductions of the 21 August, 1974 midnight show in Las Vegas. An audience recording, made on 28 August, 1973, in Las Vegas, and available on the unofficial CD, "Take These Chains From My Heart," also includes the number.
Talk About The Good Times recorded by Elvis on Friday, 14 December 1973; Studio Original Recording Label of Talk About The Good Times by Jerry Reed
Written by: Reed
Originally recorded by Jerry Reed in 1970 Play button Pause button
Jerry Reed also wrote "Guitar Man" and "U.S. Male." Jerry was born in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1937. He started to play guitar at age eight and was particularly inspired by Merle Travis's "I Am A Pilgrim." He started recording for Capitol in 1955, but with little success, so that he left the company in 1958. By 1961, Jerry had completed his miltary service (1959 to 1961), during which he played as a member of the army's Circle-A Wranglers band, and had developed his "claw style" method of guitar playing. After a brief and unsuccessful time with Columbia Records, Reed signed with RCA. His first top 20 hit came in 1967 with "Tupelo Mississippi Flash," a song about Elvis. He was voted Instrumentalist of The Year in 1970 by the Country Music Associatiion and won a Grammy for the number "When You're Hot, You're Hot" in 1971. He won two other Grammy awards, together with Chet Atkins, one in 1970 and the other in 1992. In the mid-1970s he began acting in films such as "Smokey And The Bandit" and enjoyed occasional parts for the rest of his life. Jerry Reed died in September 2008.
See also "A Thing Called Love," "Guitar Man" and "U.S. Male."
Tell Me Why recorded by Elvis on Saturday, 12 January 1957; Studio Original Recording Label of Tell Me Why by Marie Knight
Written by: Traditional; Titus Turner
Originally recorded by Marie Knight in 1956 Play button Pause button
"Just A Closer Walk With Thee" is a traditional American sacred song which became a million seller for Red Foley in 1950, though it had been recorded by Sister Rosetta Tharpe in 1938 already. It is not impossible that "Tell Me Why" was based on this tune. Elvis was not the first artist to record it, however. That honour goes to Marie Knight who had a regional hit with it after it was released on the Wing label, number W-90069, in April 1956, backed with "As Long As I Love" (W-90069), prompting a cover version by Gale Storm on Dot.
Several different songs have carried the title "Tell Me Why": The Four Aces in 1951, Norman Fox & The Rob Roys in 1957, and The Beatles in 1964, all had totally different numbers by this name.
Elvis's version, though recorded in 1957, was not released until 1966
Tender Feeling recorded by Elvis on Monday, 30 September 1963; Studio Original Recording Label of Tender Feeling by John Goss And The Cathedral Male Voice Quartet
Written by: Giant; Baum; Kaye
Originally recorded by John Goss And The Cathedral Male Voice Quartet in 1925 Play button Pause button
The team of Giant, Baum and Kaye provided many original songs for Elvis's moves, but this can hardly be termed "original" as the tune is clearly that of the far older America song, "Oh Shenandoah," also known as "Across The Wide Missouri." "Shenandoah" was a shanty used with the windlass, capstan, and winches for loading cargo. The origin of "Shenandoah" is not known. Some believe it originated among the early American river men or Canadian voyageurs. Others believe it was a land song before it went to sea. Most agree that it incorporates both Irish and African-American elements. The song dates from the early 1800s; it tells the tale of a trader who fell in love with the daughter of the Indian chief Shenandoah (other versions also exist)—he presumably had a "tender feeling" for her, so there is some degree of continuity!
Paul Robeson was a man of many parts: singer, recording artist, athlete, political activist; one of the truly great personalities of the 20th century. He grew to despise the early roles he had to play that denegrated his race. He embraced the socialist movement, supporting the Republican cause in the Spanish Civil War and the Welsh miners, even portraying a black labourer who works in the Rhondda Valley pits in the 1940 film, "The Proud Valley." His recording of "Shenandoah" was made in London on 24 May, 1935, and it was released on HMV B 8438, but he rerecorded the number on several other occasions.
Prior to Robeson, however, the number was recorded in May 1925 by John Goss and the Cathedral Male Voice Quartet, and released on His Master's Voice B 2646.
It is difficult to believe that no earlier recording of "Oh Shenandoah" than that of Paul Robeson's exists. (Note that the Campbell and Burr recording of "Shenandoah" from 1917 is a totally different song, with no connection at all to "Oh Shenandoah.")
On 14 January, 1905, the Minster Singers recorded a number called "Shenandoah", which was released on a 10-inch disk on Gramaphone 4367 and Victor 61147. I have been unable to find a recording of this track.
Is there an earlier recording? What about the 1905 Minster Singers' recording? contact me.
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