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Elvis Presley 1961

At the beginning of this year Elvis offers three concerts which would be the last until the year of his return, 1968. All of them would have a charity purpose, the first two were held in Memphis in February, and the third on March 25 in Pearl Harbor , Hawaii. By the Colonel’s wish, from 1961, Elvis would remain free of all musical commitments, devoting himself exclusively to cinema and its soundtracks.

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During this year he would shoot three films, “Blue Hawaii“, “Follow That Dream” and “Kid Galahad“. Of the three only “Blue Hawaii” would be released in 1961, while the other two would do so during the following year. “Wild In The Country” would also be released, shot by Elvis the previous year.

Musically speaking, in addition to the soundtrack recordings, there were a few more between the months of June and October, which resulted in a series of magnificent songs like “Little Sister” or “His Latest Flame“, both on the same single. The other singles released that year corresponded to the songs, “Surrender” / “Lonely Man“, “I Feel So Bad” / “Wild In The Country“, “Can’t Help Falling In Love” / “Rock A-Hula Baby“.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SCetUYDBKoI]

In addition, that year, the singer was invited to a state session in the Tennessee assembly in order to grant him the title of Honorary Colonel, in gratitude for making the city of Memphis and the state of Tennessee known to the world.


The North American charts of that year hardly had Rock n’ Roll stars, with the exception of Elvis or Roy Orbison who triumphed with the classic “Cryin” (number 2) and with “Running Scared” that did reach the top. Also, former Elvis bassist Bill Black with his combo was chosen as the best instrumental group of the year. Also there were that year the decaffeinated Pat Boone, number 1 with “Moody River“, Ricky Nelson with “Travellin’ Man“, and Del Shannon with “Runaway“.

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On the other hand, that year songs related to dance were swept away, Chubby Checker being one of the winners with “Pony Time” (number 1), “Let’s Twist Again” (8) and “The Fly” (7), with which he won three gold records for their showcases.

Also the multi-racial Doo Wop group The Marcels achieved great success with a crazy version of the classic “Blue Moon” number 1 for three weeks. Other hits that year included Ben E. King‘s Leiber-StollerStand By Me“,  Smokey Robinson‘s “Shop Around,” and the female quartets The Marvelettes with “Mr. Postman” and The Shirelles with “Will Still You Love Me Tomorrow“, which went to number 1.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PAxb1vnb520]

Within country territory, the singer and actor Jimmy Dean stood out with the song “Big Bad John“, Bobby Lewis with “Tossin and Turnin“, and the singer Patsy Clyne who triumphed with “Crazy“, a wonderful composition by Willie Nelson, and recorded with the vocal accompaniment of the Jordanaries.

More winners, the Italian-American composer Dion Dimucci, with “Runaround Sue“, or the singer of African-American origin Ernie K-Doe with “Mother In Law“, also reached number 1.

The great singer from Dakota Bobby Vee also triumphed with “Take Good Care Of My Baby“, or the interpreter of Rhythm & Blues Gary US Bonds, who in 1981 would have a new resurgence at the hands of Bruce Springsteen, accompanying the E Street Band . Another one that couldn’t be missing is Ray Charles who with the hit “The Road Jack” got a double in the Top 100 and in the Rhythm & Blues charts. On the other hand, the song “Moon River” from the movie “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” reached number 11 and won 5 Grammys and an Oscar. Finally, and as a curiosity, the Indiana singer Joe Dowell would reach the top with a version of the song “Wooden Heart” that Elvis had recorded the previous year.

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Undoubtedly, 1961 was a very varied year, in the midst of a creative crisis, and we would have to wait for the following year when four long-haired men began a revolution unknown since Elvis.

Information provide by Cesar Valle (Torrelavega, Spain).

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