50s Music

Elvis Presley – Don’t Be Cruel (1956)

About the song

If you are a fan of Elvis Presley, you probably know his classic hit “Don’t Be Cruel”. But do you know the story behind this song? In this blog post, we will explore the history of this rock and roll masterpiece that topped the charts in 1956.

“Don’t Be Cruel” was written by Otis Blackwell, a prolific songwriter who also penned hits for Jerry Lee Lewis, Peggy Lee and others. Blackwell sold the song to a publishing company for only $25, but later earned royalties from it, although he had to share them with Elvis, who got co-writing credit for making some minor changes to the lyrics.

Elvis recorded the song on July 2, 1956, in New York City, along with “Hound Dog” and “Any Way You Want Me”. He was accompanied by his band of Scotty Moore, Bill Black, D.J. Fontana and Shorty Long, and the vocal group The Jordanaires. Elvis was very involved in the production process, insisting on 28 takes until he was satisfied with the result.

The song was released as a single with “Hound Dog” as the flip side. It was a huge success, becoming the only single in history to have both sides reach #1 on the US charts. It also reached #1 on the country and R&B charts, making Elvis a crossover sensation. The song sold over six million copies by 1961 and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2002. It is also ranked as one of the greatest songs of all time by Rolling Stone and Acclaimed Music.

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“Don’t Be Cruel” is a catchy and upbeat song that showcases Elvis’ charisma and vocal range. The lyrics are playful and romantic, as Elvis begs his lover not to be cruel to his true heart. He promises to love her forever and even proposes marriage at the end of the song. The song has a simple but effective structure, with a repeated chorus and a bridge that changes the key and tempo.

The song has been covered by many artists over the years, including Jerry Lee Lewis, Billy Swan, Cheap Trick and Neil Diamond. It has also been featured in movies, TV shows and commercials. But no one can match the original version by Elvis, who made it his own with his distinctive style and voice.

“Don’t Be Cruel” is a timeless classic that still sounds fresh and fun today. It is one of Elvis’ signature songs and a testament to his musical legacy. If you haven’t heard it yet, you should give it a listen and enjoy the King of Rock and Roll at his best.


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