It was 44 years ago Sunday (January 13th, 1969) that Elvis Presley began his second most famous recording sessions. On the heels of his triumphant 1968 NBC "comeback special" he entered American Studios in Memphis to leave behind the artistic malaise that permeated most of his '60s soundtrack work. Alongside his 1953 to 1955 Sun Records recordings, and legendary '50s RCA Victor singles, Presley's "Memphis" tracks have become known as his most important work, resulting in his massive comeback hit, "Suspicious Minds."
At the time, American Studios was one of the hottest studios in the U.S., the birthplace of hits including B.J. Thomas' "Hooked On A Feeling"; Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline"; and Dusty Springfield's "Son Of A Preacher Man" -- as well as her legendary Dusty In Memphis album. Producer Chips Moman ensured that Presley selected the best songs available from all music publishers, not just the companies Presley owned, ensuring that Presley's voice, matched with crack session players and great songs, would be an unbeatable combination.
- During John Mellencamp's recent Q&A session at New York City's 92nd Street Y, he revealed that his earliest musical influence was none other than "The King" himself. Mellencamp was asked about what he made of Elvis during his teen years in the mid-to-late '60s when Elvis was far from his heyday and explained that his love and admiration for Elvis' golden era carried him through his '60s slump: "I started enjoying music at a very young age -- and my parents were very young. It's a little embarrassing to say, but my parents have a picture of me when I was probably about five or six and I had sideburns taped (laughter) on to try to look like Elvis (laughs). So I remember when he was rebellious and they wouldn't show him from the waist down, so the fact that he grew up to be something that was not hip at the time really had no effect on me, because the first cut was the deepest with that guy."
- For more than five weeks, Presley dug in and recorded seminal tracks including "Rubberneckin'," "Inherit The Wind," "Wearin' That Loved On Look," "Any Day Now," "Long Black Limousine," and "Stranger In My Own Hometown."
- Among the hits recorded during the sessions were "Don't Cry Daddy," "Kentucky Rain," the Number Three hit "In The Ghetto," and his first Number One hit in over seven years, "Suspicious Minds."
- Over the years, the songs from these sessions have been scattered over many different albums, starting with 1969's From Elvis In Memphis and 1970's Back In Memphis. Today, the best place to collect Presley's legendary 1969 American Studio Recordings is the compilation Suspicious Minds: The Memphis 1969 Anthology, which was released in 1999.
- In 2003, an updated dance remix of Presley's "Rubberneckin'" charted throughout Europe.
CHECK IT OUT: Elvis performing "Rubberneckin'" in his final movie, 1969's Change Of Habit:
CHECK IT OUT: Elvis performing "In The Ghetto" live in Las Vegas, July 1970:
John Mellencamp On Elvis Presley