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R.I.P. Jerry Leiber (1933-2011)


Dear Readers

If you use any of the information on these pages,

please give credit to Early Elvis at

American Music

Thank you.








Multimedia CD-ROM

In celebration of the 80th anniversary of the birth of Elvis Aron Presley (born: Tupelo, Mississippi, 8 January 1935) a new publication is available with information about the early music career of "Electric Elvis" and Cleveland disc jockey, Bill Randle.

Written by songwriter, Roger Lee Hall, who was an assistant of Bill Randle in the 1970s, this commemorative disc is available exclusively on CD-ROM, playable on computer, to help support the educational mission of this website. Included are rare and fascinating items, like interviews with Bill Randle and information about Elvis first visits to Cleveland in 1955 (his first venture outside of the South). Also included are several music albums. It is titled,


The Bill Randle Chronicles:
From Electric Elvis To The Shakers

(PineTree Press, 2015)

To order your copy of this commemorative CD-ROM disc

Click here





DVDs - Bad and Good

There have been numerous DVD documentaries about the life and
music career of Elvis Presley, some bad and some good.


First a bad one...

This 2 DVD set is poorly edited with bad sound and fuzzy images,
especially the television appearances.

The narration is fine and at least most of the songs are complete.

But don't expect great quality even with over 3 hours about Elvis.

You can read more at this link:




Now for several good ones...


Documentary about early years of Elvis in Tupelo and Memphis and including interviews with authors Elaine Dundy and Alanna Nash, DJs George Klein and Wink Martindale, Historian Roy Turner, several Elvis friends from his youth. Also excerpts from early Elvis songs.

This fascinating DVD is recommended for your collection.

Elvis - The Memphis Flash


And another recommended one,
especially Disc 2 (The Man and His Music) is...



Elvis - The Great Performances (2 DVDs)





A Songwriter Remembers Elvis


Songwriter Roger Lee Hall was a big fan of Elvis from the time when he first became a national sensation in 1956. Roger also was a fan of the early Elvis movies, especially KING CREOLE, and here he is holding the soundtrack LP album from that movie in this picture...

Roger has written about his admiration of the early Elvis songs and how it inspired his early songwriting career in his autobiography, "Free As The Breeze."

This book tells the story of a struggling songwriter and includes over 100 pictures and rare audio files, including some of Roger's early songs.

One of his first songs, "Dream World" (1961), was written to pay homage to the Elvis multi-million-selling record, "It's Now Or Never."

Roger's frank and honest memories are told in his autobiography on this multimedia CD-ROM with music and image gallery and titled after one of Roger's songs...

"Peace-Lovin' Blues"
Survival Songs




A few recommended CDs
with early Elvis hits



Elvis At Sun

Elvis at Sun




Elvis 56


Elvis 56











The 50 Greatest Love Songs

Elvis - The 50 Greatest Love Songs





No. 1 Hits in the 1950s

Between 1956 and 1958, Elvis had more No. 1 hits than any other years of his career. Based on the accurate statistics in Joel Whitburn's Top 40 Hits, here is the list of

Ten No. 1 Hits in Two Years


  • "Heartbreak Hotel" -- No. 1 for 8 weeks in 1956/ 22 weeks charted in Top 40
  • "I Want You, I Need You, I Love You" -- No. 1 - 1 week in 1956/ 19 weeks Top 40
  • "Don't Be Cruel"/"Hound Dog" -- No. 1 for 11 weeks in 1956/ 23 weeks in Top 40
  • "Love Me Tender" -- No. 1 for 5 weeks in 1956/ 19 weeks in Top 40
  • "Too Much" -- No. 1 for 3 weeks in 1957/ 14 weeks in Top 40
  • "All Shook Up" -- No. 1 for 9 weeks in 1957/ 22 weeks in Top 40
  • "(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear" -- No. 1 for 7 weeks in 1957/ 18 weeks in Top 40
  • "Jailhouse Rock" -- No. 1 for 7 weeks in 1957/ 19 weeks in Top 40
  • "Don't" -- No. 1 for 5 weeks in 1958/ 16 weeks in Top 40
  • "Hard Headed Woman" -- No. 1 for 2 weeks in 1958/ 14 weeks in Top 40


These No. 1 hits are available on this superb 5 CD set that's essential
for any Elvis collection:

Elvis - The King of Rock n' Roll: The Complete 50's Masters


All but one of the No. 1 recordings are included on

Elvis 30 #1 Hits





In the August 1956 issue of COUNTRY SONG ROUNDUP, with Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley on the cover, there is a poll of favorite singers compiled from magazine readers and from the Jimmie Rodgers Day Committee in their poll of the Country music trade. The magazine wrote that:

"The achievements of Mr. Presley, of course, need no further explanation. All we can do is agree that he's one of the most dynamic performers to ever hit the music scene - and a wonderful boy besides."

Here are the results for the top singers of 1956:

Top Ten Male Singers


Top Ten Female Singers





The Truth Behind "Love Me Tender"  

The Legend

In has been claimed that because Elvis would make changes to the songs he recorded for his film, that's why he was credited as co-writer. Many authors and websites still credit Elvis as co-writer of"Love Me Tender" because that's the way it was listed on the original RCA release.

But that is NOT correct!

The Truth

Read "The Truth Behind Love Me Tender" in this book on CD-ROM:

To receive your copy of this Special CD-ROM disc
with articles, picture galleries and music,
click on this link:

"Shake, Rattle and Roll"
Electric Elvis and Bill Randle




What's The Best Elvis Record?


What was the best 45 RPM record made by Elvis during his entire career?

There are so many to choose from and the choices will be many, depending on who you ask.

Some fans might pick one of his uptempo hits like "Don't Be Cruel," "Hound Dog" or "Jailhouse Rock."

Others might prefer one of the slow ballads like "Love Me Tender," "Don't" or "Can't Stop Falling in Love With You."

All of these songs were mileposts along the Elvis music highway.

But for me, and for Elvis himself, his best record was not even a rock n'roll song.

It was instead based on an old Italian tune. His mother had a 78 RPM record of it sung by the famous opera singer, Enrico Caruso.

Okay, have you guessed the record title yet?

The multi-million-selling record (which sold for 98 cents back in 1960, about the same as a download today) was...



"It's Now Or Never"

Recorded April 3, 1960, RCA Studio B, Nashville

In his very thorough book, Elvis Presley: A Life in Music - The Complete Recording Sessions, Ernst Jorgensen describes this million-selling record perfectly when he writes:

This was pure pop music, delivered with both superb musical command and the highest level of professionalism.

This song, with English lyrics by Aaron Schroeder and Wally Gold, was based on the popular Italian song "O Sole Mio," which Elvis had heard Mario Lanza sing in Italian. Elvis had also heard an earlier record by Tony Martin titled, "There's No Tomorrow."

The Elvis record of "It's Now Or Never" stayed at the No. 1 spot in the USA for five weeks and eventually sold over 20 million copies worldwide, making it the largest selling single of his entire career. With just a few sudio takes, Elvis had made "It's Now Or Never" the most brilliant and accomplished record of his singing career. It was also reportedly the favorite recording of Elvis himself.

And now, on its 50th anniversary, isn't it time to pay tribute to "It's Now Or Never" again?

With that 1960 record, Elvis had reached beyond being just another popular rock n'roll singer.

He had become the greatest singer of the rock 'n' roll era and inspired many a singer and songwriter after that record came out.

I know because I was one of those songwriters.

My song, "Dream World", written the next year of 1961, pays homage to that great Elvis record.

So "It's Now or Never" to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the best of all the Elvis recordings.

-- Roger Hall, 2010

Read more about the record in this excellent reference book:

The Elvis Encylopedia by Adam Victor




"It's Now Or Never" is available on the special anniversary CD:

Elvis 75 (1 CD)

Elvis 75


Elvis 75-Good Rockin' Tonight

Also available on the 4 CD Set with the same title:

Elvis 75




Elvis Presley and The Jordanaires


It was in 1956 that Elvis made his first recording with The Jordanaires. Elvis had known about this quartet in Memphis and he asked them to join him. Their first recording as backup singers with Elvis was in the RCA Studios in New York on July 2, 1956.

Their first song with Elvis was "Any Way You Want Me" (words & music by Aaron Schroeder-Cliff Owens). This was the B side of the hit single, "Love Me Tender," from the first Elvis movie. The single was released on September 28, 1956 and by Christmas of that year it had already sold 2.5 million records. It also happens to be the first Elvis record I purchased as a teenager and I played it so much I wore it out.

The members of the Jordanaires between 1954 and 1956 were:

Hoyt Hawkins, Gordon Stoker, Neal Matthews and Hugh Jarrett.

Gordon Stoker (shown second from the left in the above photo with Elvis) is the only one from that time still a member of The Jordanaires. The other early member is Ray Walker who joined in 1958.




Elvis Presley On Television

Compiled by Roger Lee Hall


Elvis Debut On National Television

Cleveland disc jockey Bill Randle was the one who introduced Elvis Presley on national television on The Dorsey Brothers program, Stage Show.

Elvis made his first appearance on that TV show on Saturday night, January 28, 1956.

Contrary to many accounts, Elvis did not sing "Heartbreak Hotel" (by Mae Boren Axton and Tommy Durden) for his national TV debut appearance, even though it had been recorded by RCA on January 10.

The "Heartbreak Hotel" single was the A side of the first official RCA record. It was released January 27. The B side contained the song, "I Was the One." This first RCA single became a million seller by April of 1956.

Bill Randle told me that Elvis wanted an upbeat number for his TV debut and RCA wanted to be sure their new singer had a chance to be seen on television so Elvis held off singing "Heartbreak Hotel" until his February 11appearance on Stage Show. He sang the song again on the March 17 and March 24 telecasts.

For his national television debut on January 28, Elvis sang two songs in a medley:"Shake, Rattle and Roll" (Charles Calhoun) and "Flip, Flop and Fly" (Charles Calhoun and Lou Willie Turner). Elvis also sang the Ray Charles song, "I Got a Woman," on that first TV appearance.

This is the cover of the original 2 LP set --

This is Elvis (2 DVD Set)

The TV footage showing Bill Randle introducing Elvis on that national debut in 1956 is featured in the two hour documentary film, This is Elvis (1981). This film combines both original films of Elvis and various Elvis impersonators who portray him during his life. Yet it is still remains one of the best film documentaries about Elvis.

All the songs sung by Elvis on the Dorsey Brothers "Stage Show", "The Milton Berle Show", "The Steve Allen Show", and "The Ed Sullivan Show" are found on this outstanding 4-CD Box Set:


Elvis - A Golden Celebration


Elvis Television Performances (1956-1957)

Stage Show (CBS TV, hosted by two Big Band musicians: Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey)

 January 28 -
Tommy Dorsey introduced Cleveland disc jockey Bill Randle, who spoke about Elvis on his first national US TV appearance - Songs: "Shake, Rattle and Roll / Flip Flop and Fly" and "I Got A Woman"

February 4 -
Songs: "Baby, Let's Play House" and "Tutti Frutti"

 February 11 -
Songs: "Blue Suede Shoes" and "Heartbreak Hotel"

 February 18 -
Songs: "Tutti Frutti" and "I Was the One"

 March 17 -
Songs: "Blue Suede Shoes" and "Heartbreak Hotel"

 March 24 -
Songs: "Money Honey" and "Heartbreak Hotel"  

The Milton Berle Show (NBC TV)

 April 3 -
Songs: "Heartbreak Hotel" and "Blue Suede Shoes"

 June 6 -
Songs: "Hound Dog" and
"I Want You, I Need You, I Love You"

The Steve Allen Show (NBC TV)

  • July 1 -
    Songs: "I Want You, I Need You, I Love You" and
    "Hound Dog"

The Toast of the Town (or The Ed Sullivan Show) (CBS TV)

 September 9, 1956 -
Actor Charles Laughton not Ed Sullivan in New York introduced Elvis from Hollywood - Songs: "Don't Be Cruel"; "Love Me Tender"; "Ready Teddy"; "Hound Dog"

 October 28, 1956 -
Ed Sullivan introduced Elvis -
Songs: "Don't Be Cruel"; "Love Me Tender"; "Love Me"; "Hound Dog"

January 6, 1957 -
Ed Sullivan introduced Elvis -
Songs: "Hound Dog"/"Love Me Tender"/Heatbreak Hotel" (Medley); "Don't Be Cruel"; "Too Much"; "When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold Again"; "Peace in the Valley"

In the booklet essay for the 3 DVD set, Greil Marcus writes that...

"almost everyone says 'and then we saw him on Ed Sullivan.' NOBODY ever says they saw him on the Dorsey show, Milton Berle, or Steve Allen."

Well, sorry Mr. Marcus, but I saw Elvis on ALL those TV shows in 1956-57.

I watched him go from the rough and raw Memphis Flash to a slick and sexy "Electric Elvis."

Those three famous Ed Sullivan shows are now available in the 3 DVD set -- the first two shows have Elvis in full frame, while the third program is "from the waist up"


Elvis Presley - Ed Sullivan Shows


Elvis - The Ed Sullivan Shows



Elvis at Christmas








Elvis 75-Good Rockin' Tonight

Special 4 CD Set

Elvis 75



A Few Recommended Elvis Links


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