Classics and some curiosities in the history of music.
"Are You Lonesome Tonight?" is a song which was written by Roy Turk and Lou Handman in 1926. It was recorded several times in 1927—first by Charles Hart, with successful versions by Vaughn De Leath, Henry Burr, and the duet of Jerry Macy and John Ryan. In 1950 the Blue Barron Orchestra version reached the top twenty on the Billboard's Pop Singles chart.In April 1960, after Elvis Presley's two-year service in the United States Army, he recorded the song at the suggestion of manager Colonel Tom Parker; "Are You Lonesome Tonight?" was Parker's wife, Marie Mott's, favorite song. Its release was delayed by RCA Records executives, who thought the song did not fit Presley's new (and publicized) style. When "Are You Lonesome Tonight?" was released in November 1960 it was an immediate success in the U.S., topping Billboard's Pop Singles chart and reaching number three on the R&B chart. A month after the song's release, it topped the UK Singles Chart. Presley's version was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America in 1961 and upgraded to double platinum in 1992.At the peak of his success in 1957, Elvis Presley received his draft notice and was inducted into the Army on March 24, 1958. During the final months of his service, Presley began experimenting with new material in anticipation of his return to recording. Friend Charlie Hodge taught him to improve his breathing and expand his vocal range, and by the end of his deployment in Germany, Presley had added a full octave to his range. He returned to the United States on March 2, 1960, and was honorably discharged (with the rank of sergeant) on March 5.Presley's first recording session after his return was scheduled for March 20, and RCA's Studio B had recently been equipped with a new three-track recorder. To improve the recording of Presley's voice, engineer Bill Porter had Telefunken U-47 microphones installed in the studio. A follow-up session was scheduled for April, and the singer left for Miami to tape The Frank Sinatra Timex Show: Welcome Home Elvis.During the selection of material for the sessions Presley's manager, Colonel Tom Parker, suggested that he record "Are You Lonesome Tonight?". The favorite song of Parker's wife, Marie Mott, the manager's suggestion was the first and only time he intervened in his singer's choice of repertoire. Mott knew the song from Gene Austin's act, since he was managed at the time by her husband. Presley returned to the studio with his band, consisting of Scotty Moore, drummer D. J. Fontana, pianist Floyd Cramer, guitarist Hank Garland, bassist Bobby Moore, percussionist Buddy Harman and The Jordanaires, on April 3.After the eight songs Parker needed for Elvis Is Back! were recorded, Presley moved on to his manager's request. At 4 am on April 4 the singer began recording "Are You Lonesome Tonight?", accompanied by acoustic guitar, drums, bass and the backup group. He asked everyone else in the studio to leave the session, told Chet Atkins to turn the lights out and performed the song with the spoken bridge. After the second take Presley said to producer Steve Sholes, "Throw that tune out; I can't do it justice". Sholes told engineer Bill Porter to ignore Presley's order and asked the singer to do a new take, explaining that the Jordanaires had bumped into their microphone stand while recording in the dark. Presley performed the song once more, and that take became the master for the single. At the very end of the song, the producer can be heard stapling the pages of the singer's contract together.