« Main Page « Songs  « Return   Forward »

 

Hound Dog

download

(Leiber / Stoller)


Information:

In August 1952 bandleader Johnny Otis called song-writers Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller and urged them to compose a song for blues singer Willie Mae (Big Mama) Thornton. After meeting with her at Otis’s house, they rushed back to Stolller’s house and wrote Hound Dog in about eight minutes. Originally, the song was about a gigolo.

 

Big Mama Thornton recorded Hound Dog in early 1953. Her version reached number one for six weeks on Billboard’s rhythm & blues chart. The record label listed her band as Kansas City Bill’s Orchestra, but the group was actually Otis’s. Otis, a white musician, played drums on the recording and was credited on the label as the song’s composer. Leiber and Stoller had to go to court to get their writers’ royalties.

 

Several cover versions of Hound Dog were released in 1953, including those by Tommy Duncan (Intro 6071), former lead singer for the Bob Wills Orchestra, Little Esther Phillips (Federal 12126), Billy Starr (Imperial 8186), and John Brim (Checker 769), who used the title Rattlesnake.

 

Almost as soon as Thornton’s version of Hound Dog was released, Sam Phillips wrote Bear Cat as an answer record. Rufus Thomas recorded the song for Phillips’s Sun label (Sun 181) on March 8, 1953. Don Robey of Peackock Records in Houston sued Phillips, claiming that Bear Cat was a plagiarism of Hound Dog. After a U.S. District Court ruled in favour of Robey, an agreement was reached whereby Hi-Lo Music would pay a royalty of two cents to Lion Publishing for every copy of Bear Cat sold. Phillips also agreed to change the record label from Bear Cat (The Answer to Hound Dog) by Rufus (Hound Dog) Thomas Jr. to Bear Cat by Rufus Thomas, Jr. Thomas’s band was thereafter known as the Bear Cats.

 

In 1955 an obscure group named Freddie Bell and The Bellboys recorded a comical version of Hound Dog (Tenn 101) in which they added the lines: “You ain’t never caught a rabbit. You ain’t no friend of mine.” Although certainly aware of Big Mama Thornton’s original version of Hound Dog, it was the version by Freddie Bell and The Bellboys that Elvis liked and copied. He first heard the group sing the song in Las Vegas while he was appearing at the New Frontier Hotel in late April-early May 1956. When time would allow, Elvis, Scotty Moore, Bill Black and D.J. Fontana would catch the Bellboys’ act in the lounge. Soon after, Elvis added Hound Dog to his repertoire. It was such a crowd favourite that he began using Hound Dog as his closing number. D.J. Fontana stole his drum phrasing from Chick Greeney of the Bellboys.

 

Elvis sang Hound Dog during his second appearance on The Milton Berle Show (June 5, 1956) and on The Steve Allen Show (July 1, 1956). During the latter show he sang it to a basset hound named Sherlock while wearing a tuxedo.

 

On July 2, 1956, Elvis went into RCA’s New York City studios to record Hound Dog. It was the first song on which the vocal talents of the Jordanaires were used. Take #31 was selected by RCA for release. Hound Dog had a 28-week stay on Billboard’s Top 100 chart, peaking at #2 for three weeks. The Platters’ My Prayer and then Don’t Be Cruel kept Hound Dog from the top spot. The song was number one for three weeks on the Country Jukebox chart and number one for one week on the rhythm & blues chart. In England, Hound Dog peaked #2. Sales in 1956 alone exceeded six million copies.

 

Hound Dog was sung on all three Ed Sullivan Show appearances (September 6, 1956; October 28, 1956; January 6, 1957), Elvis’s last Louisiana Hayride appearance (December 16, 1956), the 1968 Elvis TV Special (December 3, 1968), the Elvis: Aloha From Hawaii TV Special (January 14, 1973), and Elvis In Concert (October 3, 1977). The 1981 documentary This Is Elvis used clips from the Milton Berle and Steve Allen shows.

 

Lyrics:
 

You ain't nothin' but a hound dog cryin' all the time
You ain't nothin' but a hound dog cryin' all the time
Well, you ain't never caught a rabbit and you ain't no friend of mine

When they said you was high classed, well, that was just a lie
When they said you was high classed, well, that was just a lie
You ain't never caught a rabbit and you ain't no friend of mine
Where it was released
:
Released for the first time on single »
 

Singles:

- Don’t Be Cruel / Hound Dog (RCA 20-6604) July 1956. Standard 78 RPM release »

- Don’t Be Cruel / Hound Dog (RCA 47-6604) July 1956. Standard 45 RPM release. Both song titles are listed on the same side of the picture sleeve. On some sleeves Don’t Be Cruel is above Hound Dog; on others the positions are reversed »

- Don’t Be Cruel / Hound Dog (RCA 447-0608) March 1959. Gold Standard Series reissue »

- Don’t Be Cruel / Hound Dog (RCA PB-11099) October 1977. One of 15 singles in the boxed set 15 Golden Records – 30 Golden Hits (RCA PP-11301), and one of 10 singles in the 20 Golden Hits in Full Color Sleeves (RCA PP-11340) boxed set.

- The Elvis Medley / Always On My Mind (RCA PB-13351) November 1982. Hound Dog is in a medley with Jailhouse Rock, Teddy Bear, Don’t Be Cruel, Burning Love and Suspicious Minds.

- The Elvis Medley / The Elvis Medley (short version) (RCA JB-13351) November 1982. Disc jockey promotional release pressed on gold vinyl.

- Hound Dog / Baby Let’s Play House (RCA PB-13875) August 1984. This single was released in the Memphis-Tupelo area to begin the yearlong celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Elvis’s birth. Pressed on gold vinyl, the record had a special gold “50th” anniversary label. Both songs were from performances at the Mississippi-Alabama Fair and Dairy Show on September 26, 1956.

- Hound Dog / Baby Let’s Play House (RCA JB-13875) August 1984. Disc jockey promotional release.

- Don’t Be Cruel / Hound Dog (RCA PB-13886) October 1984. One of six singles in the boxed set Elvis’ Greatest Hits – Golden Singles, Volume 1 (RCA PP-13897). The record was pressed on gold vinyl with a special gold “50th” anniversary label.

 

EPs:

- Elvis Presley (RCA SPD-23) (1956) »

- The Real Elvis (1956) »

 

LPs/CDs:

- Elvis' Golden Records (1958) »

- Elvis NBC TV Special (1968) »

- Elvis From Memphis to Vegas / From Vegas to Memphis »

- Worldwide 50 Gold Award Hits, Volume 1 (1970) »
- Elvis in Person at the International Hotel (1970) »

- Elvis as Recorded at Madison Square Garden (1972) »

- Aloha From Hawaii Via Satellite (1973) »

- Elvis (1973) »

- Recorded Live on Stage in Memphis (1974) »

- Elvis - A Collectors Edition (1976) »

- Elvis In Concert (1977) »
– Elvis' Golden Records (1977) »

- Recorded Live on Stage in Memphis (1977) »

- The Elvis Presley Story (1977) »

– Elvis - A Legendary Performer, Volume 3 (1978) »

- Elvis: Memories (1978) »

- Elvis Commemorative Album (1978) »

- Elvis! His Greatest Hits (1979) »

- Elvis as Recorded at Madison Square Garden (1979) »

– Elvis Aron Presley (1980) »

– This Is Elvis (1981) »

– Elvis in Person at the International Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada (1981) »

– Elvis NBC TV Special (1981) »

– Rock'n'Roll Forever (1981) - Candlelite »

- The Collection, Volume One (1986)

- The Number One Hits (1987)

- The Top Ten Hits (1987)

- The King of Rock’n’Roll – The Complete 50’s Masters (1992)

- The Essential Collection (1994)

- Gold – The Very Best of the King (1995)

- Elvis 56 (1996)

- Elvis’ Greatest Jukebox Hits (1997)

- Platinum – A Life in Music (1997)

- All Time Greatest Hits (1997)

- Always Elvis – The Dutch Album (1997)

- An Afternoon in the Garden (1997)

- Classic Elvis (1997)

- A Golden Celebration (1998)

- A Touch of Platinum, Volume 1 (1998)

- Elvis Aron Presley (1998)

- Memories of the ’68 Comeback Special (1998)

- Rock’n’Roll (1999)

- Elvis The Concert (1999)

- Burbank '68 (1999) - FTD »

- All the Best (1999)

- Artist of the Century (1999)

- Burning Love (1999)

- Tucson '76 (2000) - FTD »

- Good Rockin’ Tonight (2000) – Music Mill

- Live and Unplugged (2000) – Laserlight

- The Swedish Hit Collection (2000)

- Best of Artist of the Century (2000)

- Elvis 2000: Best of the King (2000)

- That’s The Way It Is – Special Edition (2000)

- The 50 Greatest Hits (2000)

- Elvis 50’s (2001)

- The Live Greatest Hits (2001)

- The Way It Was (2001) - FTD »

- Live in Las Vegas (2001)

- The Hillbilly Cat (2001) - Magnum

- Rhythm & Blues (2001)

- Playing with Fire (2001) - Magnum

- L’ Essentiel (2001)

- Greatest Hits (2001)

- Elvis; Elvis is Back; Elvis Presley (2001)

- Elvis; Jailhouse Rock (2001)

- 50 Years 50 Hits (2001)

- It’s Midnight (2001) - FTD »

- Today, Tomorrow and Forever (2002)

- 55 Recorded Live at the Louisiana Hayride (2001) – NMC

- Elvis at the International (2002) – FTD »

- The Elvis Broadcasts on Air (2002) - Cleopatra

- Spring Tours '77 (2002) - FTD »

- Elvis Presley at the Louisiana Hayride / The Original Roots of Elvis Presley (2002) – Charly/Snapper

- Elvis 30#1 Hits (2002)

- Close Up (2003)

- Dragonheart (2003) – FTD »

- Live at the Louisiana Hayride (2003) – Dynamic

- New Year’s Eve (2003) - FTD »

- Elvis 56, Remastered Edition (2003)

- Elvis 30#1 Hits, Deluxe Edition (2003)

- I Was the One (2003) – Janda

- Takin’ Tahoe Tonight! (2003) - FTD »

- On Tour – The Rehearsals (2004) – FTD »

- The Impossible Dream (2004) - FTD »

- Polk Salad Annie (2004) - FTD »

- Elvis Forever (2004)

- Closing Night (2004) – FTD »

- Elvis As Recorded Live on Stage in Memphis (2004) - FTD »

- Rockin' Across Texas (2005) - FTD »

- All Shook Up (2005) – FTD »

- Big Boss Man (2005) – FTD »

- Elvis (2005)

- Hitstory (2005)

- Summer Festival (2005) – FTD »

- I Found My Thrill (2006) - FTD »

- Writing For the King (2006) - FTD »

- Unchained Melody (2007) - FTD »

- An American Trilogy (2007) – FTD »

- Live in L.A. (2007) – FTD »

- The Way It Was (2008) - FTD »

- America (2008) - FTD »

- Nevada Nights (2008) - FTD »

- Elvis in Person at the International Hotel, Las Vegas (2008) - FTD »

- I'll Remember You (2008) - FTD »

- Standing Room Only (2009) - FTD »

- Dixieland Delight (2009) - FTD »

- The Wonder of You (2009) »

- New Haven '76 (2009) - FTD »

- Rockin' Across Texas (2009) - FTD »

- A Minnesota Moment (2010) - FTD »

- High Sierra (2010) - FTD »

- Showtime! Birmingham/Dallas '76 (2010) - FTD »

- Elvis as Recorded at Boston Garden '71 (2010) - FTD »

- Chicago Stadium (2010) - FTD »

– Live in Las Vegas (2011) - FTD »

- Live in L.A. (2011) - FTD »

– Amarillo '77 (2011) - FTD »

– 48 Hours to Memphis (2011) - FTD »

- Another Saturday Night (2012) - FTD »

– 3000 South Paradise Road (2012) - FTD »

– Sold Out! (2013) - FTD » 

– Hot August Night (2013) - FTD »

– The On Stage Season (2013) - FTD »

– Destination U.S.A. (2014) - FTD »

– Elvis (2014) - FTD »

– Love Me Tender (2014) - FTD »

- The Return to Vegas (2014) - FTD »

– In Florida (2014) - FTD »

- This is Elvis (2015) - FTD »

- Rock Around the Bloch (2015) - FTD »

- Elvis' Golden Records (2015) - FTD »

- Elvis in West Texas (2015) - FTD »

– Elvis in Alabama (2015) - FTD »

– NBC-TV Special (2016) - FTD »

– Las Vegas 1975 (2016) - FTD »

- Taking Care of Business (2016) - FTD »

- Home Town Shows (2016) - FTD »
– Spirit of Jackson, MS (2016) - FTD »

– A Date With Elvis (2017) - FTD »

– Las Vegas '74 (2017) - FTD »

– Elvis at Madison Square Garden (2017) - FTD »

– Lake Tahoe '74 (2017) - FTD »

– The Bicentennial Show (2017) - FTD »

– Murfreesboro '74 (2018) - FTD »

– Rebel With a Cause '56 (2018) - FTD »
– Omaha, Nebraska '74 (2018) - FTD »

What Now My Love (2018) - FTD »

Holiday Season in Vegas (2018) - FTD »

For LP Fans Only (2018) - FTD »

The Wild One '56 (2018) - FTD »

 

Bootleg Releases:

- Big Boss Man (1974) - no label

- Aloha Rehearsal Show – Kui Lee Cancer Benefit (1980) - Amiga Records

- America’s Own (1979) - Geneva Records

- From Hollywood to Vegas (1974) - Brookville Records

- From Las Vegas… to Niagara Falls (1974) - Live Productions

- The Hillbilly Cat, 1954-1974, Volume 1 (1974) - Brookville Records

- The King Goes Wild (1975) - Wilde Productions

- From the Waist Up (1976) - Golden Archives

- The Burbank Sessions, Volume 2 (1979) - Audifon Records

- Cadillac Elvis (1979) - TCB Records

- Eternal Elvis, Volume 2 (1979) - Eagle Records

- The Vegas Years, 1972-1975 (1976) - TAKRL

- The Last Farewell (1977) - E. P. Records

- Rockin’ With Elvis New Year’s Eve Pittsburgh, Pa. Dec. 31, 1976 (1977) - Spirit of America Records

- The Sun Years (1977) - Sun International Corp.

- The Rockin’ Rebel (1978) - Golden Archives

- The Rockin’ Rebel, Volume 3 (1979) - Golden Archives

- Rockin’ With Elvis April Fool’s Day (1980) - Live Stage Productions

« Main Page « Songs  « Return   Forward »