Elvis Presley, Hound Dog, Ed Sullivan Show

Elvis Presley “Hound Dog” (October 28, 1956) on The Ed Sullivan

A bit about the song

“Hound Dog” is a twelve-bar blues song written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. Recorded originally by Big Mama Thornton on August 13, 1952, in Los Angeles and released by Peacock Records in late February 1953, “Hound Dog” was Thornton’s only hit record, selling over 500,000 copies, spending 14 weeks in the R&B charts, including seven weeks at number one. Thornton’s recording of “Hound Dog” is listed as one of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s “500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll” and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in February 2013.

“Hound Dog” has been recorded more than 250 times. The best-known version is the July 1956 recording by Elvis Presley, which ranked number 19 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time in 2004 but was excluded from the revised list in 2021; it is also one of the best-selling singles of all time. Presley’s version, which sold about 10 million copies globally, was his best-selling song and “an emblem of the rock ‘n’ roll revolution”. It was simultaneously number one on the US pop, country, and R&B charts in 1956, and it topped the pop chart for 11 weeks — a record that stood for 36 years. Presley’s 1956 RCA recording was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1988, and it is listed as one of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s “500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll”.

“Hound Dog” has been at the centre of controversies and several lawsuits, including disputes over authorship, royalties, and copyright infringement by the many answer songs released by such artists as Rufus Thomas and Roy Brown. From the 1970s onward, the song has been featured in numerous films, including Grease, Forrest Gump, Lilo & Stitch, A Few Good Men, Hound dog, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and Nowhere Boy.

    You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog

    Quit snoopin’ ’round my door

    You can wag your tail

    But I ain’t gonna feed you no more

The song was written for a woman to sing in which she berates “her selfish, exploitative man” and in it, she “expresses a woman’s rejection of a man – the metaphorical dog in the title.

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