Sunday, August 15, 2010

50 years ago: Elvis Presley hit #1 with “It’s Now Or Never”

It’s Now Or Never

Elvis Presley

Writer(s): Aaron Schroeder, Wally Gold (see lyrics here)

Released: July 5, 1960

First Charted: July 18, 1960

Peak: 15 US, 14 CB, 13 HR, 7 RB, 19 UK, 13 CN, 17 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 4.0 US, 1.26 UK, 22.0 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 84.8 video, -- streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

Elvis Presley’s favorite song BR and biggest hit, with international sales topping 20 million, BR 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.” BR 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, BR marking his transition from a “rock ‘n’ roll singer to an adult entertainer.” KL

Due to copyright disputes over the original “O Sole Mio,” the song took a few more months before it saw release in Britain. BR 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. BR 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 stealing tires. It had such an impact, he decided to pursue a music career. SF

Resources and Related Links:

  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Elvis Presley
  • BB100 Billboard (9/08). “All-Time Hot 100
  • BR Fred Bronson (2003). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (5th edition). Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 73.
  • KL Jon Kutner and 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

First posted 7/12/2012; last updated 4/25/2021.

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