500 Greatest Songs of All Time

45

Elvis Presley, 'Heartbreak Hotel'

Writers: Mae Boren Axton, Tommy Durden, Presley
Producer: Steve Sholes
Released: Jan. '56, RCA
27 weeks; No. 1 

When RCA Records signed "hillbilly cat" Presley, they expected more songs like his rockabilly hits from Sun Records. Instead, for his first RCA single, Presley recorded this gloomy, downtempo number, co-written by Axton, his former publicist, and inspired by a Miami Herald report of a suicide note that consisted solely of the line "I walk a lonely street." But what Sun Records founder Sam Phillips called "a morbid mess" went on to become Presley's first Number One hit and million-selling single, thanks to Scotty Moore's steely guitar leads, a thumping bass line from Bill Black and the brilliant melodrama with which Elvis infused every line.

Appears on: Elvis 30 #1 Hits (RCA) 

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