55 years ago on this day, Elvis Presley attended the fourth Country Music Disc Jockey Convention in Nashville, Tennessee where he was voted the year’s most promising male artist. Back at his hotel, Mae Boren Axton played him a demo of a new song she had written with Tommy Durden called “Heartbreak Hotel.” Two months later, Presley made his first recordings for RCA choosing this moody song. It was quickly released as a single, bringing Elvis national recognition, his first Billboard #1 hit, and his first gold record.

Earlier (on the evening of July 5, 1955), Elvis was recording for Sam Phillip’s Sun Records when he took his guitar and launched into a 1946 blues number, Arthur Crudup’s “That’s All Right”. Guitarist Winfield “Scotty” Moore recalled, “All of a sudden, Elvis just started singing this song, jumping around and acting the fool, and then Bill (Black) picked up his bass, and he started acting the fool, too, and I started playing with them. Sam, I think, had the door to the control booth open … he stuck his head out and said, ‘What are you doing?’ And we said, ‘We don’t know.’ ‘Well, back up,’ he said, ‘try to find a place to start, and do it again.'” Phillips quickly began rolling tape because this was the sound he had been looking for. It was also the birth of “The King” of Rock and Roll. Later that year, RCA purchased the recording contract and back catalog of Elvis Presley from Sun Records for the then astronomical sum of $35,000. Elvis would become RCA’s biggest selling recording artist.

For the ultimate in analog RCA Elvis see the triple LP 24 Karat Hits cut at 45 RPM by Analogue Productions:


(Photographer: unknown)