Elvis Presley – Don’t Be Cruel

I would hear this song over at my relatives when I was young. They had two or three Elvis greatest hit albums so I got to know his music pretty well.  Before Elvis entered the army he was as about has hot of an entertainer as you could get. He was rock and roll to many people…the Big E, the King, The Hip Shaking Man…

Elvis released this in 1956 and it was the B side to Hound Dog. That is a pretty good single to say the least! According to Joel Whitburn  It is the only single in history to have both sides reach #1 in the US.

Don’t Be Cruel  written by Otis Blackwell, a songwriter who came up with a lot of hits for Elvis. In addition to this, he also wrote “Return to Sender,” “All Shook Up,” and “One Broken Heart for Sale” for Elvis. He also wrote “Fever,” which was made famous by Peggy Lee, and “Great Balls Of Fire” for Jerry Lee Lewis. Blackwell died in 2002 at age 70.

Cheap Trick covered this in 1988. Their version peaked at  #4 in the Billboard 100, #2 in Canada, #6 in New Zealand, and #77 in the UK. I did like this version also.

Joel Whitburn (writer):  “As far as the two-sided Presley hit ‘Hound Dog” / “Don’t Be Cruel,’ I’ve always tabulated that single 45 as two #1 hits. ‘Hound Dog’ was the first title to chart and the first one to be listed as the lead #1 song. Billboard’s ‘Best Sellers in Stores’ chart listed the the #1 song on 8/18/56 as ‘Hound Dog/Don’t Be Cruel.’ It was also shown that way when it first topped the ‘Most Played in Juke Boxes’ chart on 9/1/56. There is absolutely no doubt that the initial sales and ‘buzz’ about this record was for ‘Hound Dog.’ It was a smash #1 hit right out of the box. As airplay began to favor ‘Don’t Be Cruel,’ the two titles were flip-flopped at #1, with ‘Don’t Be Cruel’ actually showing more weeks as the #1 lead song. Again, I have always tabulated these two titles as two #1 songs. There is no way you can consider this 4-times platinum record as one #1 hit. And, neither does RIAA who awards gold and platinum selling records. They show ‘Hound Dog’ / ‘Don’t Be Cruel’ as both receiving platinum designations.”

From Songfacts

On Christmas Eve 1955, Otis Blackwell found himself on the streets in front of the Brill Building in New York City trying to stay warm. Things weren’t going well for Blackwell – it was raining and there were leaks in the soles of his shoes. His friend Leroy Kirkland walked by and asked Otis if he had written any more songs. Otis said yes. Over the next week, he sold 6 of them to a publishing company for $25 each. Management at The Brill Building liked him so much they offered him a full-time job writing, and Blackwell accepted. Not long after, Otis got some very good news: This up-and-coming rock star wanted to record one of his songs. The deal was, the guy wanted half the writer’s fee. Otis said, “No way I’m gonna give up half that song.” His friends convinced him that half of something was better than all of nothing. Besides, this new singer just might “make it” and if he did, Otis’ royalties would be tremendous. Over the next few days, Otis agreed. It wasn’t Elvis who wanted half the “writer’s fee.” It was his manager, Colonel Tom Parker. The song became one of Elvis’ biggest and longest running hits. (Thanks to the disc jockey, author and music historian Ron Foster.)

Elvis’ bass player Bill Black released an instrumental version of this in 1960 which hit US #11.

Don’t Be Cruel

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 who 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 who a heart that’s true
I don’t want no other love
Baby it’s just 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 who 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 who a heart that’s true
I don’t want no other love,
Baby it’s just you I’m thinking of

Don’t be cruel to who a heart that’s true
Don’t be cruel to who a heart that’s true
I don’t want no other love
Baby it’s just you I’m thinking of

Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

39 thoughts on “Elvis Presley – Don’t Be Cruel”

    1. I just watched a documentary of Brian Epstein last night and was thinking how lucky the Beatles were to have him. Whenever I hear of Parker I think about that.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes and a record producer other than George Martin who would have picked a “lead singer” and made them do what the producer wanted. Fate was very kind to them…and give them credit for picking the right ones.


  1. Yes, the Billy Swan version is good, really slowed-down. I knew the Elvis song from my childhood, but the version I bought with my pocket money as I just turned 14 was by British group The (Rocking) Berries, who specialised in comedy records. They impersonated Elvis on the record, it’s not aged well and is literally unplayable these days due to the crimes of one of the celebrity impersonations. So anyway, I still have a fondness for the Elvis original that inspired it 🙂


  2. It is one that stands up quite well to this day… probably his best of that decade I think . Indeed though, it’s up there with things like “Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields” when it comes to great and big double-sided singles of rock.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Cheap Trick, the pride of Rockford, Illinois!

    This is the song I think of when I hear “Elvis Presley.” More so than “Hound Dog,” “Jailhouse Rock,” or “Heartbreak Hotel.” This is quintessential Elvis, with The Modernaires in the background.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is totally Elvis…I agree. I had to sneek Cheap Trick in…if anyone earned their place in Rock…it’s Cheap Trick…they toured like dogs.


    1. It’s not my favorite either and while I think the 50s was his best decade I do like his later stuff like Suspicious Minds and Promise Land.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Yeah this one is definitely worth picking out. Not as well-known as a Hound Dog, or Heartbreak Hotel, but I love his vocals in this. Almost teasing and flirting with you. You can see why some crusty old types were terrified of him!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Elvis the Pelvis. Heh. His music is all over the background of my childhood. My dad loved him and my mom couldn’t stand him. She was Motown, straight up.

    Colonel Parker was pure self-involved evil. Elvis was actually a damn fine actor as well as a grand singer. He moved to the music and he moved a generation.

    My fave Elvis piece is Devil in Disguise. Sadly, I never liked Vegas Elvis. He was just a shadow at that point.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If Elvis would have had a manager like the Beatles had…he wouldn’t have been as rich but he might still be alive or lead a happier life. Parker cheapened his image in a lot of ways…it shouldn’t have been that way…though Elvis should have left him for good.

      When Vegas is involved I usually don’t like it. I do like some of his seventies hits.


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