7 Songs You Didn’t Know Elvis Presley Got Writing Credit for but Didn’t Write

Despite the fact that Elvis Presley rose to fame nearly 75 years ago singing early blues-rock songs, the man remains one of the biggest names in music today. With his signature lip curl, swinging hips and smooth, low singing voice, Elvis, to many, remains The King.

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But did you know that Elvis, despite his big catalog and many hits, was not a songwriter? Yet, some might wonder, why does his name appear in the writing credits for some of his biggest titles, including, “Don’t be Cruel” and “Heartbreak Hotel”?

Well, the simple answer is that despite recording hundreds of songs and never writing any, Elvis’ label, Hill and Range Publishing, demanded that if he recorded a song, he would also get writing credit on it. This began in 1954 and continued for years. Elvis died in 1977 at just 42 years old.

Below, we will dive into six songs that he received writing credit on but never actually wrote.

1. “All Shook Up”

Written by Elvis Presley, Otis Blackwell

Written by Otis Blackwell, “All Shook Up” hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for eight weeks. There are several stories about the writing of the song. The first involves music executive Al Stanton, after shaking a bottle of Pepsi, suggesting to Blackwell to write a song with the chorus “all shook up.” The second involves Elvis himself, who said in 1957, “I’ve never even had an idea for a song. Just once, maybe. I went to bed one night, had quite a dream, and woke up all shook up. I phoned a pal and told him about it. By morning, he had a new song, ‘All Shook Up’.”

Yet a third story involves actor David Hess, who was the first to record the song. He said, “As far as ‘All Shook Up’, the title came from a real set of circumstances and when I decided not to write it, Otis Blackwell did and I had the first recording for Aladdin Records. It was my title, but Otis wrote the song and Presley took a writing credit in order to get him to record it. That’s the way things happened in those days.”

However, prior to Presley’s recording in 1957, artist Vicki Young tracked a different song in 1956 with a similar, “(I’m) All Shook Up,” written by Bill Bellman and Hal Blaine.

2. “You’ll Be Gone”

Written by Elvis Presley, Red West, Charlie Hodge

“You’ll Be Gone” is another song that Elvis may have helped start. According to Presley’s bodyguard Red West, the song, which was released in 1965 on the Girl Happy soundtrack, began with Presley saying he’d like to make an updated version of the Cole Porter song, “Begin the Beguine.” But when Porter denied them the chance to rework his tune, West, Elvis, and Charlie Hodge got to work on this new track. How much input “The King” had remains up for debate, however.

3. “That’s Someone You Never Forget”

Written by Elvis Presley, Red West

West and Presley were said to have collaborated on “That’s Someone You Never Forget,” too. Released on the 1962 album, Pot Luck, the song title was thought up by Presley. So, West was charged with writing the song, which Presley earned co-writing credit for. The song is about Gladys Love Presley, his mother, who passed away in 1958, four years before the song was released.

4. “Don’t Be Cruel”

Written by Elvis Presley, Otis Blackwell

Another song written by star songwriter Otis Blackwell, “Don’t Be Cruel” had Elvis’ name slapped on it so that Blackwell could earn attention given that the hottest pop star around was working with his material. Of Presley’s style at the time, his music publisher Freddy Bienstock said, “In the early days Elvis would show dissatisfaction with some lines and he would make alterations, so it wasn’t just what is known as a ‘cut-in’. His name did not appear after the first year. But if Presley liked the song, the writers would be offered a guarantee of a million records and they would surrender a third of their royalties to Elvis.”

5. “Heartbreak Hotel”

Written by Elvis Presley, Mae Boren Axton, Tommy Durden

Inspired by a newspaper article about a suicidal man, “Heartbreak Hotel” was written by Mae Boren Axton and Tommy Durden. Of course, Elvis also got credit too. After the song was written by the two, they presented it to Presley who loved it so much he listened to it 10 times in a row, memorizing it. It has since become one of his signature songs.

6. “Paralyzed”

Written by Elvis Presley, Otis Blackwell

“Paralyzed” is another song by Blackwell and Presley. Again, the song was written by Blackwell and given to Presley to sing, released on his 1956 album, Elvis. By bringing it so much attention, Elvis added his name to the writing credits, which Blackwell again obliged.

7. “Poor Boy”

Written by Elvis Presley, Ken Darby

Though the song was written by Ken Darby, who in the early 20th century worked with other artists like Bing Crosby, “Poor Boy” was credited to Elvis and Darby’s wife, Vera Matson. Released in 1956 on the Presley album, Love Me Tender, “Poor Boy” is another song Elvis got royalties from despite not doing much of the front-end work.

Photo by Steve Morley/Redferns

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