You take a lonely man’s suicide, two great songwriters and Elvis Presley, and what do you get?
One of the biggest hit songs in rock and roll history.
Heartbreak Hotel was released as a single on January 27, 1956.
The song was written by Tommy Durden and Mae Boren Axton in just one hour. It was based on a newspaper story about the suicide of a lonely artist who never became a success.
In an unpublished autobiography, he wrote, “This is the story of a person who walks a lonely street.”
He finally gave up and jumped to his death from a hotel window. He was 27 years old.
Heartbreak Hotel was Elvis’s first song on his new record label RCA Victor and shot to the top of Billboard’s Top 100 chart where it stayed for seven weeks.
It was on the Country and Western chart for 17 weeks, Cashbox’s pop singles chart for six weeks, and reached No. 3 on the R&B chart, making it Elvis’s first million-seller, and one of the best-selling singles of 1956.
Elvis recorded it in a session with his band, The Blue Moon Boys with Chet Atkins playing guitar and Floyd Cramer on piano.