This was the theme song to the first of 31 Elvis movies. The movie was titled The Reno Brothers
before it was renamed to capitalize on the song.
Originally, Elvis had just a small role in the movie, but during filming it became apparent that he was a really big deal, and his role was expanded to take advantage of his stardom. His character is killed at the end of the movie, but Elvis re-appears to reprise the song.
Bertrand - Paris, France
Love Me Tender, the movie, is set during the Civil War, so the musical director, Ken Darby, sought out songs from that era to adapt for Elvis. He found one in "Aura Lee," a classical piece from 1861. Using that song's melody, he and Elvis developed the song on set. On August 24, 1956, Elvis recorded it on the soundstage with session musicians.
On September 9, 1956, Elvis sang this on The Ed Sullivan Show, his first appearance on the program. The song wasn't released yet, so after the performance, orders came flooding in. Elvis' label, RCA, took the opportunity to hype the release, claiming a million pre-orders came in and touting it as the first single ever to go Gold before it shipped (the RIAA didn't start certifying Gold records until 1958, so there was nothing to validate this claim). When it was released in early October, the song became a sensation. It rose to #1 on November 3, two weeks before the movie came out, and stayed on top for five weeks, becoming one of Elvis' best-known songs.
Running 2:42, this is the ultimate "tender" ballad. It's very simple, with each stanza starting with the line, "love me tender."
Love me tender, love me sweet
Love me tender, love me true
Love me tender, love me long
Love me tender, love me dear
Three other artists charted with "Love Me Tender" in America:
Henri Rene - #44, 1956
Richard Chamberlain - #21, 1962
Percy Sledge - #40, 1967
Linda Ronstadt covered this in 1978. US Radio stations edited her version together with Elvis' original, creating a duet. This version became very popular, but was never released as a single or available for sale.
On November 11, 1956, this replaced "Don't Be Cruel/Hound Dog" on the Billboard chart, making Elvis Presley the first artist to replace himself in the #1 position.
Bertrand - Paris, France
This didn't appear on an album until March 1958, when it was included on Elvis' Golden Records. RCA Records found it more profitable to sell Elvis singles instead of pushing his albums.
George Poulton, who wrote the music to "Aura Lee," is credited as a writer on this song along with Elvis and Ken Darby, who used his wife's name, Vera Matson, for his credit.