Hound Dog - Elvis Presley

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"Hound Dog" - Elvis Presley (1956)

When Jerry Leiber heard the lyrics that Elvis Presley added to his song, “Hound Dog”, he thought it ruined the song. He thought: 

“It had to do with obliterated romance .And ‘you ain’t never caught a rabbit, and you ain’t no friend of mine’ is inane.”

Mike Stoller, the other writer of “Hound Dog” said:

“I heard the record and I was disappointed... but you know, after it sold seven or eight million records it started to sound better.

Leiber and Stoller wrote “Hound Dog” while they were still in their teens. Leiber recalled:

“We’d actually written 90% of it on the way over in the car. I was beating out a rhythm we called the ‘buck dance’ on the roof of the car. We got to Johnny Otis’s house and Mike went right to the piano... didn’t even bother to sit down. He had a cigarette in his mouth that was burning his left eye, and he started to play the song.”

Presley’s recording of “Hound Dog” on its first release sold over four million copies in the US and was his best-selling single. The original version was recorded by blues singer, Willie Mae Big Mama Thornton in 1953.

Elvis first heard a comedy version of the song performed in Las Vegas in 1956 by Freddy Bell and the Bell Boys and Elvis decided he wanted to do his own version. He said, “Let’s go watch that band. It’s a good band! Let’s try that song.”

After going through it 31 times Elvis picked the 28th version and said, “This is the one!” “Hound Dog” was recorded with “Don’t Be Cruel” on the flip side.

In a historical guest appearance on television he performed the “Hound Dog” wearing a black tuxedo with tails and blue suede shoes, while singing the song to a Basset Hound who was wearing a top hat. He once introduced the song by calling it “one of the saddest songs he had ever heard.”

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