Sunday, April 29, 2007

This Day in Music History: Elvis Presley and Heartbreak Hotel

I can’t believe that I let this one get by me. However, since it was #1 for 8 weeks I feel safe in saying that on this day in music history Heartbreak Hotel by Elvis Presley was the #1 song in the country in 1956. It began its 8 week run on April 21, 1956. This song took Elvis from being local hit to a national phenomenon. He was able to build upon the foundation that Bill Haley and the Comets set up with Rock Around the Clock. Elvis began his recording career when he stopped by the Memphis Recording Service to record two songs for his Mother. Eventually this all led to him getting signed to Sun Records that was owned by Sam Phillips who also owned the Memphis Recording Service. Mae Axton, Mother of Hoyt Axton, worked for Col. Tom Parker and when he took over managing Elvis she told him that he needed a million seller and I’m going to write it for you. Mae, Elvis and Tommy Durden wrote the song together. It was written after Tommy showed Mae a newspaper article about a man who killed himself left a one line note that said “I walk a lonely street.” Mae put the Heartbreak Hotel at the end of the lonely street and in about 22 minutes they had finished writing a #1 song. The song was released in January of 1956. Elvis made the rounds of TV shows like Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey’s Stage Show to promote the song. However, it was not until April 3, 1956 when he was on NBC’s Milton Berle show with one-quarter of the USA’s population at that time. Eighteen days later it was the 10th #1 song on the Billboard charts and by the end of the year was rated as the years #1 single.

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