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Elvis Presley’s favorite song BR1 and biggest hit, with international sales topping 20 million, BR1 dates back to the beginning of the 20th century. In 1901, G. Capurro and Eduardo di Capua wrote the Italian aria “O Sole Mio,” which translates to “my sunshine.” BR1 It was first recorded in 1907 by Giuseppe Anselmi SF and made famous by Enrico Caruso in 1916. Tony Martin recorded an English version in 1949 with the title “There’s No Tomorrow.” KL
While overseas in the Army, Elvis heard “O Sole Mio” BB100 and after his publishers couldn’t reach a deal for him to record the “Tomorrow” version, they went to the famed Brill Building writers and asked four separate teams to craft new lyrics for the song. Aaron Schroeder and Wally Gold came up with the best version KL with “It’s Now Or Never.” It borrows the chord progression and melody of the original. SF Elvis even brought the version of “O Sole Mio” by Mario Lanza to the studio as a blueprint. KL It helped him develop “a more adult, operatic sound” than anything he’d recorded before, BR1 marking his transition from a “rock ‘n’ roll singer to an adult entertainer.” KL
It’s Now Or Never
Due to copyright disputes over the original “O Sole Mio,” the song took a few more months before it saw release in Britain. BR1 Anticipation was so high when it was released in November that it became The King’s second single to enter the British chart at #1 and was the country’s fastest-selling single in history. BR1 The song returned to the top of the British charts a second in 2005 when a batch of Elvis singles were re-released.
Worthy of note – famed singer Barry White heard this song while in jail for steaing tires. It had such an impact, he decided to pursue a music career. SF
Resources and Related Links:
- DMDB page for “It’s Now Or Never”
- Elvis Presley’s DMDB Music Maker Encyclopedia entry
- BB100 Billboard (9/08). “All-Time Hot 100”.
- BR1 Fred Bronson (2003). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (5th edition). New York, NY: Billboard Books. Page 73.
- KL Jon Kutner/Spencer Leigh (2005). 1000 UK Number One Hits: The Stories Behind Every Number One Single Since 1952. London, Great Britain: Omnibus Press. Page 70.
- SF Songfacts.com