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Don't Be Cruel

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(Blackwell / Presley)

Information:
Otis Blackwell wrote Don't Be Cruel in 1955 and sold the published rights to the song on Christmas Eve of that year to Shalimar Music for $25. The song's full title is Don't Be Cruel (to a Heart That's True). Reportedly, the song was first offered to the Four Tunes, a rhythm and blues group that recorded for RCA Records, but they turned it down. When Elvis heard Blackwell's demo of Don't Be Cruel, he fell in love with it. To get Elvis to record the song, Blackwell had to give 50 percent of this writer's royalties to Elvis. That's why Elvis is listed as co-composer. The recording session took place at RCA's New York City studios on July 2, 1956 - the first session to feature all four of the Jordanaires. To get the interesting drum sound of the recording, D.J. Fontana put Elvis's guitar case on his lap and struck it with mallets. other musicians included Scotty Moore (guitar), Bill Black (bass) and Shorty Long (piano). Take #28 was the one released. Don't Be Cruel entered Billboard's Top 100 chart at #28. By early September 1956 it had ascended to the top of the chart at the top for seven straight weeks and was replaced by the Green Door by Jim Lowe. Don't Be Cruel had a stay of 27 weeks at the chart. The song also reached number one on the Country Juke Box chart (for seven weeks), the Country Best-Seller chart (for five weeks), and the rhythm and blues chart (for one week). Don't Be Cruel was the first of three Presley songs to reach number one on all three charts (the other two were Teddy Bear and Jailhouse Rock).

Elvis sang Don't Be Cruel on the Ed Sullivan Show (September 9, 1956; October 28, 1956; and January 6, 1957) and on his 1977 TV special Elvis In Concert (October 3, 1977). The song was recorded during the tapings for the 1968 TV special, but was not used for the telecast or the subsequent soundtrack album. The Ed Sullivan Show appearance of January 6, 1957, was used in the documentary This Is Elvis.

 

Don't Be Cruel has been recorded by several other artists over the years, most of them unsuccessfully. Bill Black had a 1960 instrumental version (Hi 2026) that reached #11 on the Hot 100 chart. Scotty Moore played guitar on that recording. In 1963 Barbara Lynn barely made the Hot 100 (#93) with her recording of Don't Be Cruel (Jamie 1244). Cheap Trick had a #4 hit with the song in 1988 (Epic 24-07965).

 

During the Million-Dollar-Quartet session of December 4, 1956, Elvis commented to Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins that he'd heard a member of Billy Warck and His Dominoes sing Don't Be Cruel in Las Vegas. He enjoyed the slower version so much that he wished he'd recorded it that way. The unnamed member of the Dominoes to whom Elvis was referring to was Jackie Wilson. Elvis then demonstrated to Lewis and Perkins how Wilson sang Don't Be Cruel.

 

Lyrics:

 

You know I can be found sitting home all alone
If you can't come around at least please telephone
Don't be cruel to a heart that's true

Baby, if I made you mad for something I might have said
Please, let's forget the past, the future looks bright ahead
Don't be cruel to a heart that's true


1. I don't want no other love
Baby it's still you I'm thinking of

Don't stop thinking of me, don't make me feel this way
Come on over here and love me, you know what I want you to say
Don't be cruel to a heart that's true


Why should we be apart
I really love you baby, cross my heart

Let's walk up to the preacher and let us say I do
Then you'll know you'll have me and I'll know that I'll have you
Don't be cruel to a heart that's true


1. (repeat)


Don't be cruel to a heart that's true
Don't be cruel to a heart that's true
1. (repeat)

 
Where it was released:
Released for the first time on single »
 

Singles:

- Hound Dog / Don't Be Cruel (RCA 20-664) July 1956. Standard 78 RPM release »

- Hound Dog / Don't Be Cruel (RCA 47-6604) July 1956. Standard 45 RPM release. Two versions of the picture sleeve were used. One had Hound Dog printed above Don't Be Cruel in larger letters. The other had the reverse. This was the first sleeve to feature a photograph of Elvis »

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

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

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

 
EPs:
- Elvis Presley (RCA SPD-23) (1956) »
- The Real Elvis (1956) »

LPs/CDs:
- Elvis' Golden Records (1958)
»
- Worldwide 50 Gold Award Hits, Volume 1 (1970) »

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

- Elvis (1973) »

- A Legendary Performer, Volume 1 (1974) »

- Pure Gold (1975) »

- Elvis - A Collectors Edition (1976) »

- Elvis In Concert (1977) »

– Elvis' Golden Records (1977) »

- The Elvis Presley Story (1977) »

- Elvis: Memories (1978) »

- Elvis Commemorative Album (1978) »

- Elvis! His Greatest Hits (1979) »

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

– Elvis Aron Presley (1980) »
– Pure Gold (1980) »

– This Is Elvis (1981) »

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

- The Collection, Volume One (1986)

- The Number One Hits (1987)

- The Ten Top Hits (1987)

- The Great Performances (1990)

- The Million Dollar Quartet (1990)

- Collectors Gold (1991)

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

- Forever (1992)

- The Essential Collection (1994)

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

- Elvis ’56 (1996)

- Always Elvis – The Dutch Album (1997)

- Platinum – A Life in Music (1997)

- An Afternoon in the Garden (1997)

- Elvis’ Greatest Jukebox Hits (1997)

- Memories The ’68 Comeback Special (1998)

- A Golden Celebration (1998)

- Elvis Aron Presley (1998)

- A Touch of Platinum, Volume 1 (1998)

- The Concert (1999)

- Artist of the Century (1999)

- Rock’n’Roll (1999)

- All the Best (1999)

- Burbank '68 (1999) - FTD »

- Best of Artist of the Century (2000)

- The Swedish Hit Collection (2000)

- Elvis 2000: Best of the King (2000)

- The 50 Greatest Hits (2000)

- Tucson '76 (2000) - FTD »

- The Best of Elvis Presley (2001)

- 50 Years 50 Hits (2001)

- Live in Las Vegas (2001)

- Greatest Hits (2001)

- The Live Greatest Hits (2001)

- The Way It Was (2001) - FTD »

- Dixieland Rocks (2001) – FTD

- Elvis 6363 Sunset (2001) - FTD »

- Elvis 50’s (2001)

- It’s Midnight (2001) - FTD »

- Elvis 30# 1 Hits (2002)

- Elvis at the International (2002) - FTD »

- Dinner at Eight (2002) – FTD »

- Spring Tours ’77 (2002) - FTD »

- Close Up (2003)

- Elvis ’56 – Remastered Edition (2003)

- Dragonheart (2003) - FTD »

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

- Rockin' Across Texas (2005) - FTD »

- All Shook Up (2005) FTD »

- Summer Festival (2005) - 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 »

- Standing Room Only (2009) - FTD »

- Dixieland Delight (2009) - FTD »

- New Haven '76 (2009) - FTD »

- Rockin' Across Texas (2009) - FTD »

- A Minnesota Moment (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 »

– 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 »

– Las Vegas 1975 (2016) - FTD »

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

– Las Vegas '74 (2017) - FTD »

– Elvis in Atlanta (2017) - FTD »

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

– The Bicentennial Show (2017) - FTD »

– Murfreesboro '74 (2018) - FTD »

– Rebel With a Cause '56 (2018) - FTD »

– What Now My Love (2018) - FTD »

– Holiday Season in Vegas (2018) - FTD »

– The Wild One '56 (2018) - FTD »

– St. Paul to Wichita, October '74 (2019) - FTD »

– From Georgia to Florida (2019) - FTD »

 

Bootleg Releases:

- The Monologue LP (1973) - Bullett Records

- From Las Vegas... To Niagara Falls (1974) - Live Productions

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

- America's Own (1979) - Geneva Records

- Sold Out (1974) - E.P. Records

- From the Waist Up (1976) - Golden Archives

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

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

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

- Elvis' 1961 Hawaii Benefit Concert (1978) - Golden Archives Records

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

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

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

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