This was the last #1 hit for Elvis during his lifetime. A remixed version of "A Little Less Conversation" hit #1 in the UK in 2002.
Memphis singer Mark James wrote this. He recorded and released his own version, but it didn't go anywhere. Memphis Soul producer Chips Moman brought this to Presley in 1969, and Elvis immediately fell in love with it and decided he could turn it into a hit, even though it had flopped for James.
This was recorded between 4-7 in the morning, during the landmark Memphis session that helped Elvis reclaim his title of "The King."
This was a big comeback song for Elvis. It was seven years since his last #1 hit.
Elvis' publishing company, along with his manager Col. Tom Parker, tried to get their usual cut of the royalties from this and threatened to stop the recording if they didn't. Elvis insisted on recording the song regardless.
This song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999.
Artists to cover this song include Dwight Yoakam, Waylon Jennings, The Heptones, Candi Staton (#31 UK), B.J. Thomas and even The Fine Young Cannibals, whose 1985 version not only hit #8 in the UK, but was bizarrely referenced on the American TV show Psych, when Shawn tells his partner Gus: "Don't be Fine Young Cannibals cover of 'Suspicious Minds.' We're going to find her."
In the UK, Elvis had a hit with this song three times. First in 1969 when it was originally released, then in 2001 when a live version recorded at The International Hotel, Las Vegas, in August 1970 was issued and went to #15, then in 2007 when it was re-issued to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Elvis' death, going to #11.
Dennis Quaid and Elizabeth Mitchell dance to this in the 2000 sci-fi drama Frequency.
According to Elvis' good friend Marty Lacker, who convinced him to record in Memphis with Chips Moman, the song's fake ending was a result of tampering by Elvis' longtime producer Felton Jarvis. "When Chips cut 'Suspicious Minds' and mixed it, the fade and bump at the end was not there," Lacker told Goldmine magazine. "In other words, the song fades out and then it bumps up again. It's that part where Elvis is just repeating and repeating the last chorus. In my opinion, it might be good for the stage, a dramatic thing, but it's not good on a record. What happened was Felton Jarvis took the master to Nashville and started fooling with it thinking he could do better. And he couldn't. He should have left it alone. He added background voices. The voices that Chips put on in Memphis, Mary Green and all those people, they're fantastic southern sounding R&B-ish singers. Chips used them on a lot of the hits he had."
Waylon Jennings and Jessi Colter first covered this in 1970 and landed at #25 on the country chart. Their version was re-released to promote the 1976 album Wanted! The Outlaws, the first country album certified Platinum, with more than a million records sold. This time, the single peaked at #2 and earned the couple a Grammy nomination for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.