The King’s Debut

This day in music History:
On November 10, 1955, Elvis Presley attended the fourth Country Music Disc Jockey Convention in Nashville, Tennessee. Back at his hotel, Mae Boren Axton played him a demo of a new song she had written with Tommy Durden called “Heartbreak Hotel”.

The song was inspired by the suicide of a man, who left the note, “I walk a lonely street”. Axton, a high school teacher of Jacksonville, Florida, who read the news in The Miami Herald, wrote the song in thirty minutes in 1955.

Presley would go on to record the song the following year and would be his first single for RCA records. This single, released on January 27, 1956 would become the first #1 pop single for Elvis and was the best selling single of 1956. It would skyrocket his career and was his introduction into American music popularity.

It has been ranked number forty-five on Rolling Stone’s list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time”, and in 2005, Uncut Magazine ranked the first performance of “Heartbreak Hotel” in 1956 by Presley as the second greatest and most important cultural event of the rock and roll era.

Countless people have covered the song in concert. Willie Nelson and Leon Russell had a number one cover version in 1979 on the country charts. The song was Russell’s only number one hit on the charts. Former president Bill Clinton even performed the song with his saxophone during his appearance on The Arsenio Hall Show on June 3, 1992.

A groundbreaking song to say the least. Check it out. Rock it out.

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