Hound Dog

Album: Elvis' 30 #1 Hits (1956)
Charted: 2 1


  • This was originally recorded in a blues style by Big Mama Thornton in 1953. Her version was a #1 R&B hit and by far her biggest success. Like many blues musicians, she never made much money, but was a big influence on many singers who did. In 1968, Janis Joplin recorded a song Thornton wrote called "Ball and Chain," which appeared on several Joplin compilation albums after she died in 1970.
  • Elvis' version of this song is based on how he heard it performed by a Texas group called Freddie Bell and The Bell Boys, who released the song on the Teen label in 1955. In April 1956, Elvis was booked for two weeks at The New Frontier Hotel in Las Vegas. One night, Elvis and his band explored the Vegas strip and landed at the Sahara, where Freddie Bell and The Bell Boys were performing in the lounge. When they performed their comedic version of "Hound Dog," Elvis was impressed and decided to do his own in a similar vein.

    Elvis used the same lyrics, which differed from the Big Mama Thornton original. In this approach to the song, Elvis is acting disappointed with his lover and repeating the lyrics, "Well, they said you was high-classed, but that was just a lie" six times. In Thornton's original, she sings the line twice as "You told me you was high class, but I can see through that."
  • This was one of the first big hits for the songwriting team of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, who were teenagers when they wrote it. Based on the success of "Hound Dog," Leiber and Stoller were hired to write many more songs for Elvis, as well as the score for his movie Jailhouse Rock (including the famous title song).

    Working for Elvis was very good for Leiber and Stoller, but they didn't like what he did with "Hound Dog."

    "It was nervous sounding," Leiber said in More Songwriters on Songwriting. "It didn't have that insinuation that Big Mama's record had."

    Stoller added, "It's something that really is sort of an imitation that never really turned out well."
  • In a 2001 talk with Rock's Backpages, Leiber and Stoller explained that they thought of themselves as black, and were always surprised when they passed by a mirror. They went on to explain what it was like writing and recording this song with Big Mama Thornton. Says Leiber: "We'd actually written 'Hound Dog' 90 percent on the way over in the car. I was beating out a rhythm we called the 'buck dance' on the roof of the car. We got to Johnny Otis's house and Mike went right to the piano... didn't even bother to sit down. He had a cigarette in his mouth that was burning his left eye, and he started to play the song. We took the song back to Big Mama and she snatched the paper out of my hand and said, 'Is this my big hit?' And I said, 'I hope so.'

    Next thing I know, she starts crooning 'Hound Dog' like Frank Sinatra would sing 'In The Wee Small Hours of the Morning.' And I'm looking at her, and I'm a little intimidated by the razor scars on her face, and she's about 280-320 pounds, and I said, 'It don't go that way.' And she looked at me like looks could kill and said - and this was when I found out I was white - 'White boy, don't you be tellin' me how to sing the blues.' We finally got through it.

    Johnny brought Mike back in the room and asked him to sit down at the piano, which was not easy because Johnny had this female piano player who was built like Arnold Schwarzenegger. They finally exchanged seats and did the song the way it was supposed to sound. And that was one of those where we said, 'That's a hit.' And I thought immediately: We both said it, it's gonna put a hex on it!"
  • The Big Mama Thornton original version was the first song that Leiber and Stoller produced. Mike Stoller told Mojo magazine April 2009 what happened: "Johnny Otis was supposed to run the session. We had rehearsed and he'd played drums. When we got in the studio (it was) his regular drummer. It wasn't happening. I said, 'Johnny, you've got to play the drums, do what you did in rehearsal.' So he said, 'Who's going to run the session.' I said, 'We will.'"
  • When the line "You ain't nothin' but a hound dog" popped into Jerry Leiber's head, he considered "hound dog" a placeholder phrase. "I wanted something that was a lot more insinuating," he said in More Songwriters on Songwriting. "I wanted something that was sexy."

    His partner Mike Stoller liked it and convinced him to leave it as is.
  • This was released as a single with "Don't Be Cruel." It is the only single to have both sides reach #1 in the US. The single was #1 in the US for 11 weeks, a record that was not broken until 1992 by "End of the Road" by Boyz II Men.

    Regarding the #1 chart positions of the single, Joel Whitburn, who writes the definitive books on the subject, told the Forgotten Hits newsletter: "As far as the two-sided Presley hit 'Hound Dog" / "Don't Be Cruel,' I've always tabulated that single 45 as two #1 hits. 'Hound Dog' was the first title to chart and the first one to be listed as the lead #1 song. Billboard's 'Best Sellers in Stores' chart listed the the #1 song on 8/18/56 as 'Hound Dog/Don't Be Cruel.' It was also shown that way when it first topped the 'Most Played in Juke Boxes' chart on 9/1/56. There is absolutely no doubt that the initial sales and 'buzz' about this record was for 'Hound Dog.' It was a smash #1 hit right out of the box. As airplay began to favor 'Don't Be Cruel,' the two titles were flip-flopped at #1, with 'Don't Be Cruel' actually showing more weeks as the #1 lead song. Again, I have always tabulated these two titles as two #1 songs. There is no way you can consider this 4-times platinum record as one #1 hit. And, neither does RIAA who awards gold and platinum selling records. They show 'Hound Dog' / 'Don't Be Cruel' as both receiving platinum designations."
  • In 1958, the "Hound Dog/Don't Be Cruel" single became just the third record to sell more than 3 million copies, following Bing Crosby's "White Christmas" and Gene Autry's "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • After writing this song with Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller got married and went on a trip to Europe. He was returning on the Italian ocean liner Andrea Doria in 1956 when it was rammed by another ship in fog off Nantucket Sound and eventually sank. Stoller and his new wife abandoned ship in a lifeboat and were rescued. About 50 of the 1,500 people on board died. When Stoller arrived at the dock at New York, Leiber was there to welcome him with the news that they had their first major hit with "Hound Dog," by a newcomer called Elvis Presley.

    In a Rock's Backpages interview, Stoller recounts, "He assumed I was soaked, if I was alive. But he said, 'We got a smash hit on 'Hound Dog'.' And I said, 'Big Mama's record?' And he said, 'No. Some white guy named Elvis Presley.' And I heard the record and I was disappointed. It just sounded terribly nervous, too fast, too white. But you know, after it sold seven or eight million records it started to sound better. I should also say that the other things we did with Elvis I liked very much."
  • Presley's guitarist Scotty Moore played on a P-90-equipped Gibson L-5 plugged into a Ray Butts amp. There are two guitar solos in the song, and at the beginning of the second one, Moore made some sounds that guitarists have been unable to replicate since. Moore claimed that he didn't even know how he did it, making it one of the great guitar mysteries in rock.
  • Elvis and his his band recorded this song and "Don't Be Cruel" on July 2, 1956. It was a grueling session, with Elvis working himself and the band through an increasingly focused 31 takes. The sessions took place at RCA's studios in New York.
  • Elvis performed this song twice on national TV before he recorded it. The first performance was on The Milton Berle Show, June 5, 1956, which is where Elvis learned that hamming the song up as much as possible would get a huge reaction. The next performance was on the much more staid The Steve Allen Show on July 1, the day before they recorded the song. For this appearance, Elvis sang to a Basset Hound. He was not allowed to dance on the show, since Allen ran a family friendly program and Elvis' pelvis was not considered family friendly.
  • When this was reissued in the UK in 1978, it went to #24.
  • On the UK show Songbook Leiber and Stoller were asked what they thought of the Elvis version when they first heard it. Stoller said: "I thought it was nervous and too fast and they changed the words, some of them, because obviously the original lyric was a woman's song. I don't think they improved upon Jerry's lyrics."

    Leiber: "Oh, I thought it ruined the song. It was a song that had to do with obliterated romance. In effect, she was saying, 'Get out of my house.' And 'you ain't caught a rabbit, and you ain't no friend of mine' is inane. It doesn't mean anything to me."

    Stoller: "I agree with you and I always did. Except that after Elvis's record sold about 7 or 8 million the first release, I began to see some merit in it. (laughing)"

    Asked what some of the original lyrics were, Leiber said, "You ain't nothin' but a hound dog, quit snoopin' 'round my door. You ain't nothin' but a hound dog, quit snoopin' 'round my door. You can wag your tail, I ain't gonna feed you no more. You told me you was high class, but I can see through that."
  • Especially in his later years, Elvis didn't like performing this live. At many of his shows, he rushed through the song or did a very short version. A good example can be seen on his 1973 "Aloha from Hawaii" concert. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Ed - Buffalo, NY
  • This was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1988.
  • This was featured on the popular soundtrack to the 1994 movie Forrest Gump. In the movie, a pre-fame Elvis stays at the Gump boarding house and sings the tune for young Forrest, whose stilted dance moves inspire the singer's famous hip thrusts.

Comments: 59

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn this day in 1956 {October 26th} Elvis' "Hound Dog" peaked at #2 {for 3 weeks} on the United Kingdom's Official Singles chart, it was the second of his seventeen records to peak at #2 in the United Kingdom...
    And the three weeks that "Hound Dog" was at #2, the #1 record for those three weeks was "A Woman In Love" by Frankie Laine...
    The rest of the Top 10 on October 26th, 1956 was:
    At #3. "Lay Down Your Arms" by Anne Shelton
    #4. "Giddy-Up-A-Ding-Dong" by Freddie Bell and the Bellboys
    #5. "Just Walkin' In The Rain" by Johnnie Ray
    #6. "Whatever Will Be Will Be (Que Sera Sera)" by Doris Day
    #7. "Rockin' Through The Rye" by Billy Haley and the Comets
    #8. "Rock Around The Clock" by Bill Haley and the Comets
    #9. "Bring A Little Water Sylvie"/"Dead Or Alive" by Lonnie Donegan
    #10. "The Great Pretender"/"Only You" by the Platters
    And from the 'For What It's Worth' department; exactly thirteen years later on October 26th, 1969, Elvis' "Suspicious Minds" peaked at #1 {for 1 week} on the U.S. Billboard's Top 100 chart, it was the last of his eighteen chart toppers in the U.S.A.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn July 3rd 1956, Gene Vincent met Elvis at Penn Station in NYC; Elvis was on his way back to Memphis, the day before he had recorded "Hound Dog" and "Don't Be Cruel" at the RCA Studios, and the day before that he appeared on 'The Steve Allen Show"...
    At the time "Be-Bop-A-Lula" was at position #12 on Billboard's Top 100 chart; eventually it would peaked at #7 and spent 20 weeks on the Top 100...
    R.I.P. Mr. Vincent, born Vincent Eugene Craddock, (1935 - 1971) and to The King (1935 - 1977).
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn July 1st 1956, Elvis Presley performed "Hound Dog", while wearing a tuxedo and singing to a real hound dog, on the NBC-TV program 'The Steve Allen Show'...
    Because of a large viewing audience; the next day Ed Sullivan contacted Col. Parker and eventually a $50,000 three-show appearance contract was signed (Elvis first appearance on the 'Sullivan' show was September 9th, 1956)...
    R.I.P. to The King (1935 - 1997), Mr. Sullivan (1901 - 1974), Mr. Allen (1921 - 2000), and Col. Parker (1909 - 1997).
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyAs already stated Elvis performed "Hound Dog" on the Milton Berle's Texaco Star Theater on this day in 1956 (June 5th)...
    On the same program he performed "I Want You, I Need You, I Love"; and at that time it was on the Top 100, along with four other Elvis songs and "Heartbreak Hotel" was in its 8th and final week at #1 on Billboard's Best Sellers in Stores chart.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn January 6th 1957, Elvis Presley performed "Hound Dog" on the CBS-TV program 'The Ed Sullivan Show'...
    Six months earlier on July 28th, 1956 along with the flip-side, "Don't Be Cruel", it entered Billboard's Top 100 chart...
    In a combination of both sides it was #1 for eleven weeks and spent over a half-year on the Top 100 (28 weeks)...
    This was the famous 'shot above the waist' appearance on the Sullivan show...
    R.I.P. Mr. Sullivan (1901 - 1974) and to The King (1935 - 1977).
  • Esskayess from Dallas, TxI had a hound dog long ago. Fortunately, he did catch rabbits, so he was a friend of mine.
  • Joaquin from Sacramento, ArLeiber Stoller did not write Hound Dog but ripped it off from african american rnb guys. Ask Johnnie Otis and he will give you the details. They were like so many other white song stealers. Yes, Ike Turner!!!
  • David from Glasgow, United KingdomSeems like a lot of people here are quite wrong in their understanding of basic Elvis facts......Elvis did write some material, the only full title he wrote was used as an extra song on a film album....he inputed into other songs hence getting listed as a co-writer. As for him not being an accomplished musician...thats totally wrong, Elvis was a great piano player.

    As for Big Mama Thornton singing Leiber n Stollers 'Hound Dog' have a listen to Rufus 'the hound dog man' Thomas singing 'Bear Cat'...same song dont ya think?? Elvis produced most of his early music though lost control when Parker started interfering in the output by bringing Elvis' voice to the forefront, after many years of doing below par films with crap soundtracks, who wouldnt lose interest in the songs he was being given...as is rightly said in some posts Parker was a conman and was threatening people when they were offering Elvis far better material than he was getting. He was basically forced to stay with the same song writers such as Giant/Baum/Kaye as they were happy to sign their material over .

    Its not down to the songwriters as theres many bad versions of great songs, its the singer not the song...in the words of Mick Jagger. Parker wanted the 68 Comeback Special to be a Christmas show, only including Christmas songs...Elvis had enough by this time and he took aside the show producers and told them they were doing a show with real songs although he did include Blue Christmas. Elvis had 3 big recording sessions in my opinion, the Sun Session, his RCA sessions after he came out of the army and the 68-69 sessions with many many hits....Parker never had his hands on any of these. Elvis was and is a phenomenon, he broke new ground musically, visually and in entertainment so the guy deserves credit. Its a shame he couldnt live a normal life due to his huge success and Parkers interference as I think he would have been even more of an icon if that is possible
  • Kyle from Gillette, WyElvis is my AMERICAN IDOL! His songs are amusing.
  • Teresa from Mechelen, BelgiumElvis Presley was a very good singer, with his voice he could sing any kind of song. I like his hits very much and my favourite one is
    "Hound dog" written by Leiber and Stoller.
  • Andy from Munich, GermanyAs with many cover versions done by Elvis, many artists that later recorded "Hound Dog" only knew Elvis' version. John Lennon did an "Elvis impersonation" singing Hound Dog at Madison Squarden in 1972. Is a great opera singer not a musician only because he does not write his own material? Having said that, I cannot think of any other R'n'R artist that could have recorded a song like "It's Now Or Never" the way Elvis did, certainly not The Beatles, who were nowhere near as good singers as Elvis. Elvis may not have been a lead guitarist, but he certainly was a great rhythm guitarist. Elvis did play the acoustic guitar on most of his Sun records. He also played piano and percussion on some of his songs, and on "Baby I Don't Care" he even played the electric base. IMO, Elvis was a true musician, because he did create something that was not there before. If you listen to some of the demos that songwriters had sent to him and then compare them with the master take recorded (and produced) by Elvis, you will know what I mean.

  • Mike from Franklin County, PaAlthough Elvis Pressley got credit for singing this song ; he didn't actually camed up with the words nor the music . ..The song was actually a Blues - song , first sang by African - American blues singers. All Elvis did was repopularized the song by turning it into a rock song. ..Elvis didn't invent rock and roll ; it was first played by the African - American musicians ( this was before any white - American ever heard of the music , as they were listening to folk music and ballads).
  • Billy from Nederland , TxMy Favorate song of all time! Thank you, Thank You Very Much.
  • David from Brunssum, Netherlands@Dede, Chapel Hill, NC: Elvis made some lyrical adjustments to Heartbreak Hotel and created an entire new arrangement for the song. That justifies for co-writership
  • Tom from Brooklyn, NyFirst, Rock n Roll was not invented by Presley and second, Rock n Roll, the music, existed before Presley professionally recorded anything. My understanding is that the term "Rock n Roll," as applied to a form of music, was coined by Alen Freed, sometime around 1953, so whatever was the form of music Freed applied the term to was "Rock n Roll."

    Now, Freed didn't apply that term to a newly invented type of music, but to an already existing type of music. Again, it is my understanding that he applied the term to R and B, with the B standing for Blues and the R standing for rhythm, such as the up-tempo rhythm found in Boogie-Woogie. So, "Rock n Roll" the music would have existed before the name, but how far before?

    Listening to historical recordings, I hear Rock n Roll in such songs as "Rebecca" recorded by Pete Johnson and "Big" Joe Turner, in 1944 (except that I know of no Rock n Roll performer, on any instrument, who can equal Pete Johnson's piano playing) and even in the song "Boogie-Woogie Bugle Boy," as preformed by the Andrew Sisters in 1941. Going back even further I also hear Rock n Roll in such Boogie-Woogie, Barrelhouse songs such as Rufus Perryman's "The Right String - But the Wrong Yo Yo" recorded around 1930 and Eurreal Montgomery's "Frisco Hi-Ball Blues" recorded sometime in the 1930's. That doesn't mean that these songs were exactly the same as the Rock n Roll being played in the 1950's. Music changes over time. The Rock n Roll of the 1960's differed from that of the 1950's, as well as from that of the 1970's. It seem to me that Boogie-Woogie and Blues of the 1930's had more in common with the Rock n Roll of the 1950's, then it had in common with Big Band Jazz. That is Rock n Roll and Boogie-Woogie Blues, in my option, are more closely related, than Big Band Jazz and Boogie-Woogie Blues. Further, I would say that the differences between 1930's Boogie-Woogie Blues and 1950's Rock n Roll, are no greater and maybe even less great, than the difference between the Rock of the 1970's and 1950's Rock n Roll. In fact some may say that some of the Rock of the 1970's has more in common with Boogie-Woogie and Blues, than with 1950's Rock n Roll.

    It could be claimed that Rock n Roll music is only music that was called Rock n Roll. That is one point of view, but not one I would be very favorable too. After all, "A rose by any other name would smell just as sweet." Fast tempo, strong rhythms, a narrow melody, somewhat, irreverent lyrics that includes nonsense and suggestive words, sung by performers with rough, earthy voices and a narrow note range are the characteristics held in common by many Boogie-Woogie and Rock n Roll songs. Songs with these characteristics are in essence part of the same form of music, no matter what names are used to describe them. I believe that if Alen Freed did not feel the need to come up with a new name in order to better attract white listeners, what we know as Rock n Roll, would be call Boogie-Woogie or Rhythm and Blues.

    Again, some might say that Rock n Roll is a mixture of Rhythm and Blues with County and Western. County and Western was an important addition to Rhythm and Blues during the 1950's, but my guess is that Alen Freed didn't have that in mind in 1953. However, even if we take Rock n Roll to be a mixture of R and B and C and W, Presley was still was preceded by others. In particular Bill Haley and the Comets were primarily a County and Western group that would play Rhythm and Blues at times. In fact their 1955 hit "Rock Around the Clock" was an R and B tune. An important thing to remember is that one of the significant qualities of Rock n Roll is its ability for adaptation.

    Presley did contribute to the growing popularity of Rock n Roll. There were three reasons why he was able to do so. One, he knew how to play and perform to the music that came to be known as Rock n Roll. Two, he was young and three he was white. However, Rock n Roll was becoming more popular even before Presley, in part because of the breaking down of the walls of segregation in the United States, but also because of the promotion of the music by Alen Freed and the use of "Rock Around the Clock" in the movie "Blackboard Jungle."

    But, if one was to look for the real grandparent of modern music, both Jazz and Rock n Roll. That is the most influential composer and performer in the development of those modern genres; one would have to look to Scott Joplin. Listening to "Maple Leaf Rag," written in 1897, I hear the seeds of all Jazz and Rock n Roll. In short Scott Joplin is the American Bach.
  • Shasta from B-town, Inokay, i have only read a handful of these here comments and so far they all look about the same. either you think elvis was a poser and the beatles rawk or vice vers. i just wanted to say that they are both very good opinions, but... the truth is they just sang. it doesnt matter who wrote the song or even who sang it better. its all about what you get from it. music is supposed to make you feel something, not debate who wrote it or who sang it first. just appreciate what you are listening to and if you dont like it then dont listen. im sure elvis didnt go around saying okay now you, you and you are going to like my music and the rest of you wont. he just sang and if people liked what they heard then good fer them and him of course cuz thats howhe got paid but if not then there are plenty of other people out there who can make them happy. singing made him happy, he only hoped that people would be made happy when listening, most were. as fer the beatles, same thing. they just wanted people to hear thier music, it was always your own choice to like it or not. they were just happy to sing and preform. i mean seriously are you going to say the same thing about all the different people who sing the national anthem? are they posers? no, they just have love for thier country and a beautiful voice, fer the most part. alright so i guess what im saying is like it or not, he knew he didnt write his own songs, and so did every1 else, it didnt really matter then so why bring it up now? and i love how people say that he is "overrated". seriously, who is the one rating him? you, the O' so opinionated commenter. seriously what is the point in putting out comments that contradict yourselves? DUH! well, i have class now, so think about all of this and comment again.
  • Ronnie from Chattanooga, TnNo singer or group can match Elvis. Don't tell me he didn't write his on songs, this is so lame. Come on people, you can do better than that. If thats all you can put Elvis down for, then you have no reason. Without Elvis, you would not have any music. thank you, thank you very much. #1 always and for ever.
  • Mickey from Mars, PaEgad, what on Earth have I stumbled upon? A comment argument! Well, it's pretty hard knockin' on Elvis, 'cuz folks have a thing for the King. True, he may not have been the most original performer, but he was charismatic to boot, 'least from what video footage I've seen of him. And the ladies went nutso over him... it's funny to hear about, really. But I also love the Beatles- know a good chunk of their songs, have their songs on my Ipod, etc. The Beatles "killed" Elvis. They became the biggest thing since, well, Elvis. Both Elvis and the Beatles made a huge impact on music, that much is true. Now, I'm gunna go do... something that's not homework. Buh-bye!
  • Steve from Sydney, AustraliaI have heaps of Elvis in many music formats and I never tire of listening to him. He was a great singer and arguably the most charismatic person in showbiz history. But I have two gripes. Firstly, he wasn't nearly as original as most of his fans think he was. Virtually all of his earlier songs were copied almost directly from versions by much lesser-known artists, both black and white. There are whole albums of the original recordings to prove it. They are sometimes referred to as the recordings that 'influenced' Elvis, but that's being generous. He copied. Even in his later stage shows, he copied anything that took his fancy - for one example among many, Aretha Franklin's live version of Oh Happy Day. Every vocal style and technique he turned his talent to (brilliantly) can be sourced to someone else, usually singing the very same song. It's a fact easily substantiated by a little research. Secondly, he allowed Colonel Tom Parker, the most unscrupulous manager in rock music history, to guide and dominate his career. Most obviously, Parker demanded that Elvis get a songwriting credit for many great songs he had no part in writing, for the sake of claiming a chunk of the publishing royalties. Some songwriters - including Leiber/Stoller and Dolly Parton - told Parker to take a hike, so Elvis never recorded the songs at issue. Elvis didn't have to stick with Parker. Elvis didn't have to condone Parker's blackmailing tactics. He could have stood up for what was right and fair, but he sacrificed that for fame and fortune. Let's enjoy Elvis's music - but keep the man in perspective.
  • Brett from Sydney Australia, AustraliaBOY! What a lot of heat there is here. It's not surprising though, I suppose. This is a very emotive topic for many. May I say that I agree that the post by Catherine is deeply ignorant. I think possibly it's meant as a joke - I'm not sure she expects anyone to take her seriously. If she means it she has next to zero knowledge of the history of music. And I don't speak as any great fan of Elvis - I don't own a single one of his albums, nor a single song.
    Kevin goes completely over the top defending Elvis, citing "facts" he seems to have plucked from the air. Elvis was CERTAINLY not a great - or even good - guitarist, although he had a grasp of a few of the basics. I say this as a guitarist who saw many hours of Elvis playing over the years. I have no doubt the Sun Studios people tell all tourists what they told you about Elvis, but they have a vested interest in making their tours memorable, and protecting and perpetutaing the Elvis brand. Elvis was an outstanding singer who moved his audiences and gave a warmth and feeling to songs that no-one else could - that's why he was such a phenomenon in his day (and still is to some degree). As others state here, he will still be known just by saying his first name a hundred years from now. A great singer, performer and entertainer - doubtless. But a great musician - no. And in reply to Justin, who talks of the painter not mixing his own pigments but still being a painter - your analogy is unsound. A painter uses his elements - paints - to create something that wasn't there before - a painting. Anyone can LOOK at a painting and interpret it as they wish, but that doewsn't mean they ARE a painter. With songwriting, the writer uses his elements - words - to create something that wasn't there before - a song. Anyone can SING the song and interpret it as they wish, but that doesn't mean they're a songwriter. Or a musician - and there's the second fault with your analogy. You can be a songwriter without being a musician - look at Bernie Taupin as an example. You confuse the two, further muddling your argument. Then you go and completely blow your credibility by saying "The Beatles? they aren't even on the same totem as Elvis" THAT statement displays just as much ignorance as Catherine's statement. The Beatles were LIGHT-YEARS ahead of Elvis in terms of musicianship. Their songs have been covered by HUNDREDS of others. They are musically and structurally sublime. They are dissected and studied in universities. That doesn't necessarily mean they were BETTER or WORSE. Better or worse is an entirely subjective matter, so there can be no right or wrong answer as to who was "better".
  • Harry from Warsaw, OhKevin, I couldn't have said it better.

    It will be a daunting task for the historians to find anyone, before him or after, who has done more, or has given more of themselves to humanity. In spite of all the early social ill directed toward him, and later, the imposed contractual restraints and constraints which shackled his creative talent for most of his life, Elvis did it his way.. and in the process overcame it all. Elvis attained a greatness in his short time that surely has to dwarf most if not all of the great kingdoms of history. Not too shabby for a poor little insecure country mama's boy from Podunk USA.

    He was a son, a father, a friend, a generally all around good guy and an inspiration to all... he stood tall and towered above most men... in the end he was Elvis, loved by many, missed by all.... God rest his mighty soul...!
  • Bev from Birmingham, AlI am amazed at the lack of respect for Elvis' work from these comments. Even Rolling Stone assessed "Elvis' acres of of body of artistry is perfection." He did write a few songs, but his big songs were written for him. He is the undisputed King of Rock n Roll and considered to be the best singer of our time due to his range and variation of style.He was also a good actor, grade C movies notwithstanding. Hi Melanie-Col Parker did wreck havoc in Elvis' life-denied him the lead in West Side Story and the lead in A Star is Born, as well as touring abroad.But Priscilla leaving with LM broke him, and Red West turning on him broke him again.He might be alive were it not for Dr. Nichopolous who prescribed him a cocktail of 14 meds routinely, that would be illegal today. Dr N now barred from practicing medicine.I love the Beatles too. The great songwriters are neither of these-they are Bob Dylan and Hank Williams, though Lennon and McCartney are up there. Elvis is the consummate performer of our day, say what you will.BATaylor, Bham, AL
  • Michael R Taplin from Weston-super-mare, EnglandI accept John Lennons assessment of Elvise's talent: "Before Elvis there was nothing."
    I have done the tour of Memphis, Gracelands etc. in company with my wife. We have spoken to local people who knew Elvis. One thing strikes us above all. He treated people with kindness and respect. This is confirmable fact. So whatever your opinion of the King, do not cheapen yourself by deprecating his talent in a disrespectful manner. It's quite likely he was a better person than most of us.
  • John from Dalls, TxFact is that Elvis, like the Beetles are more about the CHANGES they brought to music, rather than their music itself.

    I find most of Elvis's work to be tedious, as is the Beetles.

    If I want MUSIC, I listen to Fleetwood Mac, Lynard Skynard or something that makes me FEEL something.

    My opinion, of course
  • Ronnie from Chattanooga, TnMost of you beatle fans must be hard of hearing. When the beatles sang, they were out of tune. They had to go to the record studio, so they could dress there voice up, to make it sound some what ok. Elvis didn't have to do that. He could sing anywhere without the help of the studio. No he didn't write a song, but he sure could sing one. If you look at what the beales wrote, it was mostly trash. A 3 year old could have done better. For you beatles fans, if Elvis had wrote his songs, it still would have not please you. So Elvis done what he did best, HE SANG. More than I can say about the beatles. Elvis and the beatles record sells are all est. No way you could prove who sold the most worldwide. So beatle fans grow up. You have to be in your 40's and 50's. Do it this way. Never be another Elvis. And never be another group like the beatles. Reason I put the beatles, with a little ( b ) is because they are second to the KING OF ROCK & ROLL. ELVIS #1. THANK YOU....
  • Jennifer from Seattle, WaWorthy of a mention...I just saw Roger Waters in concert and when the concert started there was just a radio and "someone" (just showed their hand) flipping through stations. They stopped on "Hound Dog" and played the whole song. Pleasant surprise.
  • Rachel from Round Rock, Txi disagree with Aaron of Auckland, New Zealand. There are so many singers better than Elvis, not to mention better performers and songwriters. Wait...what's this? Elvis didn't even write his songs? Hmm.......
  • Allen from Bethel, AkI have to say, this song's guitar track doesn't sound like 1956.
  • Yo from London, EnglandElvis is vastly overrated as are the Beatles, its only a song ! They are only singers/bands !
  • Albert from Toronto, CanadaI liked the Beatles up to 1965. They were like Elvis in that they did a pretty good job of interpreting African-American music. Then in 1965, the Beatles started making music that just didn't feel like genuine rock and roll to me. That's why I like Elvis best. He was able to blend gospel, R & B, and country so well. In fact, I've always the original creators of rock and roll (Bo Diddley, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bill Haley, Buddy Holly, the Everly Brothers, Duane Eddy, Johnny Cash, Ray Charles, Del Shannon, Ricky Nelson, Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent amongst others) more than the stuff the Beatles put out.
  • Hannah from Belfast, Irelandi just have to say the only reson i oined this stupid thing is to say elvis is overated how many songs did he write him self!!!! come on the mighty beatles they will rock to the end of time!!!!! come on john lennon!!!!
  • Justin from London, Akoh my god i love this song you bum heads
  • Steve from Fenton, MoIn a way you can measure Elvis's greatness by the fact that the great groups that followed him chose not to record any of his signature songs. There was never a group more cool than The Beatles, but they didn't dare put any Elvis songs on their records for fear of coming off sounding foolish. Elvis was their biggest inspiration but the Beatles knew you couldn't improve on the early Elvis rock and roll, so they wrote their own songs or covered lesser artists from the 50's.
  • Steve from Fenton, MoIf someone was new to popular music and wanted to know what Rock and Roll was, this is the song from the 50's I would have them listen to. The song I would pick from the 60's is The Beatles I Saw Her Standing There.
  • Aaron from Auckland, New ZealandWithout the king none of the singers today or after Elvis would not even be heard of, "before Elvis there was nothing" - John Lennon, very true, and as for the beatles, without Elvis they wouldnt exist. There is not one singer in the history of world with a voice that can top Elvis.
  • David from Utrecht, NetherlandsWell, then there is me, a 21 year old from the Netherlands. I wasn't interested in music untill a few years ago and i can say that from my objective point of view, Elvis definitly is bigger than the beatles. I don't know who sold more, did more and bigger things. I just know that EVERYBODY in my generation knows Elvis and at least three of his songs and everybody knows the Beatles and when you ask them to name a song... the simply shut up. some come up with something like 'yellow truckdriver' or something, but thats it.
    So overrated or not, Elvis will be remembered longer and more dearly than the beatles!
  • Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScSeveral of you have questioned whether or not Elvis could play the guitar. People I have talked to, and have seen footage of Elvis playing, say he looked like he knew some cords and that he wasn't faking it. People who took the Sun Studeos tour say the same thing. I have done neither, but I did read in a book about rock n roll, that on his very first recording session in 1953 or 1954, at the Memphis Recording Service Elvis played the guitar on some of the songs. Supposedly, he also played the acoustic guitar on "That All Right Mama" or whatever it's called. Anyway, it was his first hit. By the way, I have heard Elvis played the guitar on the come-back special. It seems that Elvis could play, although he probably wasn't the greatest at it.
  • Stefanie from Rock Hill, Scaaaaanother thing, The Beatles didn't teach the Stones how to write songs. They inspired them to write songs, when they gave them "I Want To Be Your Man."
  • Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScActually Catherine, I read that the Big Bopper was the first one to make a music video. It was for "Chantilly Lace" in 1958. He was one of the guys that ided in the plane crash, that killed Richie Valens and Buddy Holly. Also know as "The day the music died."
  • Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScUm John, from what I have read/heard, the Beatles performance of "All You Need Is Love" was the first satelite broadcast of it's kind all around the world. "Aloha From Hawaii" cam later, in 1973, I think. The former took place in 1967.
  • John from St. James, Li, NyTo Catherine of Glasgow:
    Who made the first ever physcidelic song? the beatles. Why is that a triumph? Getting stoned and recoding a song takes no talent.
    John and Paul did write many great songs...that's what I would be proud of

    By the way...who did the first ever satellite transmission of a performance to over 1 billion people? Elvis, Aloha from Hawaii. This was the largest audience that a performer ever played to.
  • John from St. James, Li, NyWho cares if Elvis wrote a song or not. He was an entertainer and singer!! I saw Elvis perform live many times in the 1970's and he was great!!! He had charisma, stage presence and a great voice. When he sang a song it became his own. What other singer could cover Burnin' Love, That's Alright Mama or Can't Help Falling In Love with the style that would have the public go out and but their record. Elvis singing style covered many types, Gospel, Rock, Rockabilly, Easy Listening and, yes, even show tunes (some were good some were bad).
    I met Elvis in 1975 in a gas station in Memphis. Rather than try to leave hastily after a minute of conversation, he and I talked for almost 40 minutes about music, cars, movies and many other things. He was very personable and friendly and loved to talk to fans, unlike many other celebrities that I have read about.

    So, Catherine of Glasgow, what does overrated mean to you? that he could not sing? He sang many different types of songs...songwriters wrote songs expressly for Elvis. They knew that if Elvis recorded their song then the writer would be on the raod to success.

    that he had a mediocre voice? Very few singers had the range and power of voice that Elvis had (Roy Orbison was one who comes to mind).

    that he was unfriendly and hard to work with? Hardly, in every book I ever read about Elvis, all the actors, actresses and dicrectors said that Elvis was a pleasure to work with.

    Elvis also gave away millions of dollars to charities evety year and, rather than try to cheat the US Government on income taxes, he actually had several IRS agents do his taxes every year to make sure he paid his fair share.

    Evlis oveerated? that's the most absurd thing any reasonable person could say

    What he was known for , singing and entetaining, he did with a passion and talent not easily matched to this day.
  • Wik from Brooklyn, NyAs to songwriting, Elvis has just as much talent as Frank Sinatra. But both of them were known for spinning a given song their unique way so that many songs they sing become their own. Sinatra comes from a swinging blues standpoint, Elvis from rockabilly. That's what sets Elvis apart from the likes of Fabian and Pat Boone. Bobby Darin and Buddy Holly had that talent too.
  • Z from Montreal, Canada"Hound Dog" was originally recorded in 1953 by Big Mama Thornton.
  • Martijn from Helmond, NetherlandsElvis was important only because due to the racial divide in de the US at the time 'rock'n'roll' needed a white performer to become acceptable. The actual birth of rock'n'roll was before Elvis. After all, That's Alright was an Arthur Crudup song (a black blues player) that Elvis recorded in virtually the same arrangement as the original. And during the early rock years there were a number of artists who did write their own material and who may be considerd more important to the history of rock'n'roll than Elvis: Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, Carl Perkins, to name but a few. Elvis has had this myth created around him, but actually he really was only a good singer with questionable taste - and not just in music (as witnessed by the movies he did in the 60s).
  • Argument Ender from Boston, Ma"Before Elvis, there was nothing." - John Lennon

    The End
  • Catherine from Glasgow, EnglandSorry about the double post, but i've just read Justin's load of dross about the Beatles not being extraordinary musicians. Who made the first ever music video? the Beatles. Who had the longest song ever to be allowed radio play? the Beatles. Who made the first ever physcidelic song? the beatles. Who made their own record lable? the beatles. Who had the most number ones ever? the Beatles. Who taught the rolling stones how to write properly? the beatles. Who was your beloved Elvis absolutly terrified of? the Beatles. Who are the most successful artists ever to date........ errr, wouldn't be the beatles would it?
  • Justin from Chattanooga, TnWhy do you have to be able to write you own music to be a musician? Not all Painters mix their own pigments to create their colors, but that makes them incompetent as a painter? If Monet couldn't mix his paints, would he not be remembered? and.. The Beatles? they aren't even on the same totem as Elvis.. the only reason they were popular in America is because teenage girls like accents. Personally, I think the Beatles were great for the progression of music, but as far as anything else goes.. they suck. Just because they had the ability to play their own instruments doesn't mean they should have.. they weren't extrordinary musicians.
  • Catherine from Glasgow, EnglandMelanie,
    Yes, well said, ur comments are truly touching but maybe u should change "his accomplishments" to "someone else's work that he took the credit for" ur not a musician if you can't write a song. Even if Elvis had written his songs himself he would still be second best to the beatles. Elvis was terrified of the beatles and so he should've been, it's them the world will remember in a hundered years time HONEY. Shell, get your facts straight before you get critical you don't know me or how much i know about music.
    By the way, whats all this c**p about him being fantastic because everyone knows him by his first name? what's what he was called got to do with anything? it's your songs that count when you call yourself a musician not your name.
  • Jerry from Nashville, Tnkevin

    if ignorance is bliss, you must be a very happy camper indeed. the following lines from your post are absolute nonsense, and totally incorrect factually:

    "Elvis was a VERY GOOD guitar player.....he actually played guitar in about 75 % of his recordings. Elvis also co-wrote a ton of his songs. He couldn't read music very well so he just wrote lyrics. But it didn't matter because he was always his own producer and when he would record, he would end up changing the tempo and rythym and sometimes even the melody of the song. So therefore, Elvis actually did write alot of his own music. Certainly not all of it.. but alot. it gets on my last nerve when people talk about elvis being over rated......"

    Elvis never wrote a note, and could barely play. his producers were sam phillips, felton jarvis, and others. Elvis had a say in how things went i the studio sometimes, but he knew very little about music.

    he IS massively over-rated. a singer of songs, and a good one. but not a producer or writer. Elvis couldn't carry Buddy Holly's guitar pick.
  • Kevin from Martin, TnWhat do these figures say to you?

    29 top 10 hits-more than any band or artist ever
    17- number 1 hits-second to only the beatles
    over 1 BILLION records sold worldwide-more than any artist or band by 600 million! the beatles have sold about 400 million!
    If you call that being over rated-then you have no business being on this site, you think you know about music. Anyone who hates elvis and doesn't realize what he did for music knows NOTHING about music. Don't think i am one of those people who all i listen to is elvis. I listen to elvis often, but not as often as i do Led Zeppelin, Guns N' Roses, Pink Floyd, The Eagles, etc. I took the tour of Sun Studios in memphis a few months ago, and learned some things i didnt kno. Elvis was a VERY GOOD guitar player- they had proof on recording there. He owned george harrison in guitar. He just never played on stage cuz he felt it held his singing down. But he actually played guitar in about 75 % of his recordings. Elvis also co-wrote a ton of his songs. He couldn't read music very well so he just wrote lyrics. But it didn't matter because he was always his own producer and when he would record, he would end up changing the tempo and rythym and sometimes even the melody of the song. So therefore, Elvis actually did write alot of his own music. Certainly not all of it.. but alot. it gets on my last nerve when people talk about elvis being over rated and that he didnt do anything for music. People, he brought out rock n roll. He influenced many artist like bob dylan, the beatles, the rolling stones, led zeppelin, and pink floyd. Everytime you even put elvis down, you prove how ignorant you are, he is an american icon-the greatest and most famous singer of all time-he always will be known is that-he is a legend- and NO ONE will ever surpass elvis presley. so next time you have an OPINION about elvis not being anything- shove it up your ass cuz your jus an ignorant jack off if you think that. you dont have to think he is the immortal Jesus Christ of music. but always respect the man and respect what he did for music.
  • Ross from Independence, MoThis is #19 in Rolling Stone's list of 500 greatest songs.
  • Stefanie Magura from Rock Hill, Scanyone who says Elvis is over-rated has no idea what there talking about. Melanie is right. People will remember him 100 years from now. he was a showman who had so much charisma, and he wasn't a great musician but he could sing, and he was very talented. He also influenced a lot of musicians and singers, like the Beatles.
  • Chris from Bluffton, ScJanis Joplin died in 1970, not 1971.
  • Nate from Newport News, VaPart of the Big Mama Thornton version is in the movie 'A View Good Men', I think after Demi Moore tells Tom Cruise she's going to Cuba with them to investigate the murder.
  • Shell from Riverdale, GaWell said, Melanie. I've noted Catherine's posts about Elvis being overrated and must assume the attitude stems from a lack of knowledge and also a lack of a sense of history. If I may flesh out your post a bit, Elvis's forte was interpretation and presentation. No, he wasn't a great musician, though he could play a bit, and he wasn't a songwriter, but he could bring things out of the material and himself that others couldn't dream of and project it to the audience. He was a showman of the first rank, at least until ego and drugs took over completely.
  • Melanie from Martin, TnHoney, 100 years from now people will still know who Elvis is by his first name and listening to his music. The same cannot be said for the vast majority of "musicians" who have come after him. If he did nothing else, he led the most significant musical change in 20th century music, pop or otherwise. Whether or not you like him, his accomplishments cannot be overrated. He made a difference in music as a whole. His biggest help and most significant hinderance was Col. Tom Parker. I truly believe that he would still be alive if that man had not been in his life.
  • Deana from Indianapolis, InDid Elvis ever write anything other than a shopping list?
  • Dede from Chapel Hill, NcAlthough Elvis is credited as a co-writer on this and "Heartbreak Hotel" he didnt write a word. Col. Parker demanded Elvis be credited on both songs so he could share in the writer's royalties.
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