"Heartbreak Hotel" is a song by American rock and roll musician Elvis Presley. It was written by Tommy Durden and Mae Boren Axton, who were inspired by a newspaper report about a lonely man who had committed suicide. Axton subsequently presented the song to Presley in November 1955 at a country music convention in Nashville. Presley agreed to record it, and did so on January 10, 1956 in a session that featured his band, The Blue Moon Boys, as well as guitarist Chet Atkins and pianist Floyd Cramer. "Heartbreak Hotel" is composed of an eight-bar blues progression, and features major echo during the entire track, in an attempt to follow the characteristic of Presley's Sun recordings.
"Heartbreak Hotel" was released as a single on January 27, 1956, Presley's first on his new record label RCA Victor. His first number-one pop record, it topped Billboard's Top 100 chart, became his first million-seller, and was the best-selling single of 1956. It would eventually be certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. Presley had first performed the song during a live show in December 1955 during a tour of the Louisiana Hayride, but the song gained strong popularity after his appearance on Stage Show in March 1956. In 1995, "Heartbreak Hotel" was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, and in 2004, Rolling Stone magazine named it one of the "500 Greatest Songs of All Time". A rock and roll standard, since its original release "Heartbreak Hotel" has been covered by several rock and pop acts.
Background and writing
In 1955, Mae Boren Axton, a high school teacher with a background in musical promotion, was hired to publicise the Hank Snow Jamboree concerts at the Gator Bowl Stadium in Jacksonville, Florida, which included Presley in the line up. During one concert Axton observed the reaction of the audience to Presley's performance, in which a crowd of screaming fans chased him back to his dressing room and ripped his clothes off to take as souvenirs. Axton followed Presley's career closely after this incident, and met him at a July 28 concert in Jacksonville, this time interviewing him for the local media. According to author Albert Goldman, Axton made writing Presley's first big hit one of her ambitions.
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