When the Beatles came to Elvis Presley’s Bel Air home in 1965 for a meeting orchestrated by managers Brian Epstein and Colonel Tom Parker, John Lennon asked if Elvis had any ideas for his next movie project. Elvis said he would probably play a country boy with a guitar who meets a few girls and sings a few songs. Elvis couldn’t keep a straight face long after making that statement, and laughingly explained that the only time one of his films strayed from that format was the only time he came close to losing money on a movie.
For a couple of years there, Sam The Sham was the real deal. Almost in tribute to his name, Sam had the first record to be named Billboard’s number one song of the year which hadn’t actually held the number one position during the year. And it probably won’t come as a surprise that Sam wasn’t even really his name.
In May, 1963, Elvis Presley spent a couple of days in RCA’s Studio B in Nashville working on an album project. Fourteen songs were recorded, of which “Devil In Disguise” and “Please Don’t Drag That String Around” were immediately siphoned off as a single. The balance of the tunes never did coalesce as a unit, but were parceled off as single B-sides or album filler.
There’s an old adage that runs through the thread of rock-and-roll lore. Whatever feat of fame or infamy some latter day rock star performs, someone will trot out the maxim “Elvis did it first, did it best, and looked better doing it!” But for all the firsts and ‘greatests‘, it actually took Elvis a while to finally do something many artists who followed took for granted. It took Presley almost seven years to get around to recording a song he actually wrote. There were two of them.