The book Untold Gold: The Story Behind Elvis' Number One Hits
claims the song was inspired by a 1955 Miami Herald
story about a man who leapt from a hotel window after burning all evidence of his identity. His suicide letter had a single line: "I walk a lonely road."
Intrigued, we searched for said article at the Miami Dade library, hoping to unearth this song story. After a great deal of searching and many conversations with library historians, we concluded that this article did not exist, and that the story was an urban legend.
In 2016, Rolling Stone reported
that the famous line, "I walk a lonely street," came not from a suicide note, but more likely the writings of a man who was killed while robbing a liquor store. This man, Alvin Krolik, made news when he turned himself in to police in 1953 following a crime spree. A passage from his unpublished memoir was mentioned in some stories: This is the story of a person who walked a lonely street. I hope this will help someone in the future.
In 1955, he tried to rob a liquor store in El Paso, Texas and was shot and killed by the owner. This story also made news, with some papers running headlines with variations on the "Walked a Lonely Street" line: the El Paso Herald-Post
went with "Story of Person Who Walked Lonely Street."
None of these stories appeared in the Miami Herald
, but it's likely that the songwriters came across it in some publication.