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Did Elvis Write Any Songs? Actual Truth

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Elvis Presley is one of the most well-known and successful musicians in music history with hits such as In The Ghetto, Suspicious Minds, Heartbreak Hotel, and Hound Dog. While he might have been a legendary singer that has maintained popularity decades after his death in 1977, a lot of people don’t know whether he wrote his own tracks. If you have been wondering if he wrote any songs, continue reading to find out the actual truth! 

Is Elvis Also A Songwriter?

Elvis did not write any of his own songs even though he had hundreds of tracks recorded throughout his musical career. Even though he did not write any songs himself, he was given co-writing credits on several of his tracks, including Heartbreak Hotel, Return To Sender, and That’s Someone You Never Forget.

Rossano aka Bud Care, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The record label, Hill And Range Publishing, made a demand that the songwriters behind all of the tracks give up 50% of the writing credit and give it to Elvis. He would then go into the studio and record the songs once both parties had reached an agreement. Some agreements were less than 50/50 songwriting credit, with the singer sometimes only receiving 30% credit. 

When Did Elvis Enter Into The Co-Writing Agreement?

The founders of Hill And Range Publishing, Julian and Jean Aberbach had made this co-writing agreement with Elvis in 1954. They felt he would be a huge success and wanted to be a part of it. At that time, several major artists, including Frank Sinatra, entered into co-writing or co-publishing agreements.

However, what was different about Elvis was that the 50/50 credit was not common for artists during that time. He and his manager, Colonel Tom Parker, had set up a company called Elvis Presley Music Inc., which was where the profits would be collected. 

Why Did Elvis Not Write His Own Songs?

Elvis did not think about writing tracks, which is something he had admitted and he truly wasn’t great at songwriting. He also did not have to write his own tracks since he had quickly become such a star that every songwriter out there wanted him to record their music and get his approval. With so many people wanting him to sing their tracks, there was never a need for him to sit down and try to write his own material. 

Beyond that fact, he also had a huge team behind him that kept looking for more ways to make money from him, which is where the co-writing publishing agreement came into play. His publishing contract and the millions he made from it meant he never had to try to write and would make millions. 

Who Wrote A Lot Of Songs For Elvis?

The main songwriter for Elvis and also the producer was Mike Stoller. He was responsible for writing some of the singer’s most popular tracks such as Jailhouse Rock, Love Me, and Hound Dog. 

Stoller was a piano player but had started writing songs when he was 17 years old and living in Los Angeles, California, after a phone call. Jerry Leiber, who was the same age and was a stranger at the time, had called him and simply asked him whether he’d want to be a songwriter. Leiber talked Stoller into a meeting, and they hit it off. 

The pair began writing songs for mostly black artists, including writing the hit Hound Dog in 1952 for Big Mama Thorton, a blues singer. It wasn’t until 1956 when Elvis heard the track and wanted to do a rock and roll adaptation of it. Once Stoller and Leiber got wind of him wanting to perform the song, it wasn’t long before they were writing tracks for him. Love Me, Loving You, King Creole, Jailhouse Rock, and Don’t are among the multitude of songs the two wrote for him. 

There were other writers that wrote tracks for him during his career including the following songwriters: 

  • Aaron Schroeder 
  • Ben Weisman
  • Otis Blackwell
  • Mac Davis
  • Doc Pomus 
  • Winfield Scott
  • Florence Kaye 
  • Mort Shuman
  • Wally Gold 
  • Reed Hubbard 

How Many Songs Did Elvis Write And Record?

Throughout his musical career, Elvis recorded around 700 songs, which is incredible considering that he died at age 42. While his catalog included hundreds of tracks, he did not write those songs himself and only was responsible for recording them. The deal to give him co-writing credit was struck between Hill And Range Publishing and Colonel Parker.

Did Elvis Do Cover Songs? 

Elvis had several tracks within his catalog that were covers of other artists, and some of them may surprise you. 

We’ve included some of his most popular covers that you probably didn’t know were covers, such as the following: 

  1. Suspicious Minds
  2. Blue Suede Shoes 
  3. C.C. Rider
  4. Always On My Mind 
  5. Fools Rush In 
  6. I Just Can’t Help Believing 
  7. Unchained Melody 
  8. My Way 
  9. Bridge Over Troubled Water  
  10. Are You Lonesome Tonight?
  11. Hound Dog
  12. Crying In The Chapel 
  13. You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ 
  14. That’s All Right 
  15. In The Ghetto 
  16. One Night
  17. Yesterday 
  18. White Christmas 
  19. I Really Don’t Want To Know
  20. Mystery Train 
  21. Wooden Heart 
Elvis Presley - Suspicious Minds (Official Audio)

Did Elvis Write Any Songs About Lisa Marie? 

Elvis did not write a song about his daughter, but his bodyguard, Robert West, did write a song titled Separate Ways, which was about both Lisa Marie and her mother, Priscilla.

The co-writer on Separate Ways was Richard Mainegra, which means that Elvis had nothing to do with creating the track for his daughter, although he performed it. 

Did Elvis Write A Song For Martin Luther King?

Elvis himself did not write a track for Martin Luther King, but songwriter Walter Earl Brown did write If I Can Dream, which had been based on conversations that he and Elvis had about the assassination. Elvis went into the studio and recorded and released the track in 1968, which stayed on the Billboard Hot 100 for more than three months

If I Can Dream is similar to the famous Martin Luther King Jr. speech in terms of both content and form of the song. Brown wrote lyrics that talked about living in harmony and peace and wishing for a better world. These go into detail about not giving up the desire for a better world and talk about how difficult it’ll be but not to give up to make it a reality. 

How Many Number-One Songs Did Elvis Write? 

Elvis had 18 tracks that were number one on the Billboard Hot 100, including songs such as Don’t Be Cruel, Surrender, It’s Now Or Never, The Wonder Of You, Suspicious Minds, and Are You Lonesome Tonight. Altogether, the tracks that were number one stayed in that position for 80 weeks! 

There were more than 149 songs that he had on the Billboard Hot 100 charts, with 114 being in the top 40 list, and 40 tracks in the Top 10. This goes to show his popularity and knack for recording music that people wanted to hear. 

What Was Elvis’ Number-One Hit Of All Time?

Don’t Be Cruel was the biggest number-one hit ever in the United States looking at chart success. The song spent 11 weeks in the number-one position on the Billboard Pop Chart but stayed on the chart for more than 27 weeks. It was on the country singles chart in the number one position for 10 weeks but stayed on the chart for 28 weeks in total. It even landed on the R&B singles chart for over a week and stayed on the chart for 17 weeks! 

If you’re looking at worldwide chart success and global sales, the biggest hit he had was It’s Now Or Never. Don’t Be Cruel was not heard by everyone outside of The United States until they bought the record, which is why when looking at the biggest hit of all time, there are two different answers depending on if you’re talking about the United States or worldwide. 

What Were Elvis’ Biggest Hits?

Throughout his career, Elvis cemented his status as the King of Rock and Roll and had several hits both in the United States and worldwide.

Elvis Presley - Can't Help Falling In Love (Official Audio)

Some of his biggest hits that we’ve come to know and love include:

  • Can’t Help Falling In Love
  • It’s Now Or Never
  • Suspicious Minds
  • All Shook Up
  • Jailhouse Rock 
  • Are You Lonesome Tonight?

Could Elvis Read Music?

An interesting fact when it comes to Elvis is that he could not read music or write music, and he played all of his music just by ear. He had no formal music lessons but would know how to play a song by hearing it and then picking up an instrument. He was the one recording his own music because he wanted it to have a specific sound quality and would practice until he got it how he wanted it to sound. 

Did Dolly Parton Write Any Songs For Elvis? 

Dolly Parton did write a couple of songs for Elvis that you might not know about, which were Stand By Me, Lord and I’ll Be There (If You Ever Want Me). Writing both of these tracks for him has helped her get recognition for her talents as a songwriter since both songs ended up becoming huge hits for him. 

Stand By Me, Lord was written by her for the gospel album he released in 1967 with The Jordanaires, which was his gospel group. The album was called Gospel, Hymns, And Spirituals. He recorded I’ll Be There (If You Ever Want Me) with Priscilla, still his wife at the time, and it was a country track that instantly became a hit. 

Who Wrote Elvis’ Song In The Ghetto?

You’ve probably heard the song by Elvis called In The Ghetto, but did you know Mac Davis wrote this track and not Elvis himself? Davis originally called the song The Vicious Circle, and it was recorded and released by Elvis in 1969 on his comeback album From Elvis In Memphis. 

For Elvis, In The Ghetto became the first Top 10 song he had in the last four years in the United States, and while it didn’t hit number one, it did manage to crack the top three. The track landed at the number two spot in Canada, and it became a Top 10 hit in the United Kingdom, which was his first in the country in three years. This ended up becoming a hit all over the world, with it landing number one in New Zealand, Australia, Ireland, West Germany, and Norway. 

So while Elvis did not write his own songs, he recorded multiple tracks that became hits for him and made him millions of dollars. When you’re as popular as him and have songwriters coming up with material for you plus artists wanting you to record their songs, you would also have never needed to come up with your own tracks.

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