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Elvis Was The King Fifty Years Ago This Week

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“Are You Lonesome Tonight” had a long history before Elvis Presley ever got a hold of the song. It was written by Lou Handman and Roy Turk during 1926. Handman recorded his own version in 1927, with him playing the piano and his sister Edith as the vocalist. Blue Barron, whose real name was Harry Freidman, was an orchestra leader during the big band era. He had a hit with the song in 1950, reaching number 19. Al Jolson recorded a version of the song that same year.

Elvis Presley was released from the Army, March 2, 1960. He was greeted by his manager, Colonel Tom Parker, who ushered him into the recording studio in early April. He recorded a number of singles which were not issued on an album plus the tracks for his Elvis Is Back release.

The session produced two number one singles. “It’s Now Or Never” and “Are You Lonesome Tonight” were vastly different in style but both would signal a more pop direction for the maturing Elvis. Both songs would also top The American singles charts. It’s Now Or Never” would have a five week run at the top during the summer of 1960 and “Are You Lonesome Tonight” would begin its six week stay at the top fifty years ago this week. They would rank as the 10th and 8th most popular singles of the decade.

Elvis’ version of “Are You Lonesome Tonight” would become one of his signature songs. He would pattern the music after the Blue Baron interpretation but the vocal would be taken from Al Jolson. It was Elvis’ emotional dialogue that won over many of his fans.

This slow ballad remains instantly recognizable and a half century ago was responsible for Elvis truly being the king.

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About David Bowling

  • Thanks David.
    As the single, It’s now or Never, left the number one spot in the UK music charts 1961 Are You Lonesome Tonight, took it’s place. They were huge hits for Elvis Presley back then, heard everywhere.

    The songs had a lot of music critics of the time chewing their words. Yes, Elvis could really sing ballads! As if we Elvis fans of the time didn’t know already after hearing the wonderful , Love Me Tender.

  • MS Baby

    Because of Elvis, we never decorate in traditional Christmas colors. It’s always a “Blue Christmas” at our house. Well, actually we have a very festive and happy blue and white Christmas and decorate using white and blue ornaments.

    I can remember during my college years when I would bring friends home with me for the holidays worrying what they would think. I would bend the truth a bit and say that we preferred blue Christmas decorations in the Swedish tradition as I was afraid they would think that being an Elvis fan was not cool and sophisticated.

    I moved past that fear and as I write, my girls are across the room playing by our white Christmas tree decorated with blue ornaments and even the youngest one knows her share of the lyrics to Blue Christmas by heart.

  • Selina Tan

    Elvis Presley was a great king in the entertainment world. I was still a little girl when I started watching his movies which were great. I also love listening to his music today.

    It’s a real shame he never got a chance to bring more music to our day. He will be greatly missed.

  • Rae smith

    They all emulated Al Jolson even Elvis. If we had him another 10 or 15 years the world of music would have been very different indeed. “The greatest entertainer in the world”