About the song
If you are a fan of Elvis Presley, you probably know his classic song “Don’t Be Cruel”. But do you know the history behind this catchy tune? In this blog post, we will explore the origins, recording and impact of one of Elvis’ most famous songs.
“Don’t Be Cruel” is a heartache/love song that was written by Otis Blackwell, a prolific songwriter who also penned hits for Jerry Lee Lewis, Peggy Lee and others. Blackwell sold the song for only $25 to a publishing company, who then pitched it to Elvis. Elvis liked the song and decided to record it as the flip side of his single “Hound Dog” in July 1956.
The recording session took place at RCA Studios in New York City, with Elvis’ band of Scotty Moore, Bill Black, D.J. Fontana and Shorty Long, and the backing vocals of the Jordanaires. Elvis followed Blackwell’s demo closely, but added his own flair and energy to the song. He also insisted on 28 takes before he was satisfied with the result.
The single was released on July 13, 1956, and became a smash hit. Both “Don’t Be Cruel” and “Hound Dog” reached #1 on the pop, country and R&B charts, making it the only single in history to achieve this feat. The songs stayed at #1 on the pop chart for a total of 11 weeks, tying with two other records for the longest run at the top until 1992.
“Don’t Be Cruel” was also a huge success internationally, reaching #2 in the UK, #6 in Australia and #10 in Germany. It sold over four million copies in the US alone, and was certified platinum by the RIAA. It was also inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2002, and ranked #197 on Rolling Stone’s list of 500 Greatest Songs of All Time in 2004.
In this blog post, we will dive deeper into the story of “Don’t Be Cruel”, and how it influenced Elvis’ career and legacy. We will also look at some of the covers and adaptations of the song by other artists over the years. Stay tuned for more!