In a Nutshell
When Elvis picked this song to record as his first single with RCA, the company was horrified. It's a melancholy tune about being lonely – and how was that supposed to sell records? Lucky for RCA, Elvis stood his ground, and the record sold more than a million copies. It was the first in a long string of #1 hits.
Why did Elvis choose to sing this song, and how did he make it great? Keep reading to get the scoop.
About the Song
||Musician(s)||Elvis Presley (vocals, guitar); Scotty Moore (guitar); Bill Black (bass); D.J. Fontana (drums); Chet Atkins (guitar); Floyd Cramer (piano); Ben Speer, Brock Speer, and Gordon Stoker (backup vocals)
|Album||"Heartbreak Hotel" (single)|
|Writer(s)||Mae Boren Axton, Thomas Durden, Elvis Presley|
Explore the ways this song connects with the world and with other topics on Shmoop
In the hands of a different artist, "Heartbreak Hotel" might never have made a mark on the music industry. It's built on a standard blues music
pattern, so how did it end up being such a big part of rock and roll history
? The answer is pure Elvis. He took the traditional genres he inherited—the blues, gospel and country music
—and made them his own.
On the Charts
"Heartbreak Hotel" reached #1 on the Billboard Top 100 in March 1956
, and was Elvis Presley's first #1 hit. The reissue of the song 50 years later, in 2006, also reached #1.
The song was Presley's first to sell more than one million copies
The song was added to the Grammy Hall of Fame