1. “Heartbreak Hotel” (1956)
Released on January 27, 1956, this heart-wrenching tune was inspired by a suicide note printed in The Miami Herald. The tune didn’t catch the public’s attention until Elvis started appearing on television in the months following its release.
2. “Don’t Be Cruel” (1956)
This was the first song that Elvis self-produced. And what a job he did! Not only did he rack up his second number one in three months, he also created a whole new style for himself — one characterized by a free, casual sound.
3. “Hound Dog” (1956)
This song was a blues classic long before anyone had heard of Elvis Presley. But it was the King’s July 1956 TV appearances, in which he crooned to a real pup, that propelled it to the top of the pop charts. The machine-gun-like drumming of D. J. Fontana perfectly complemented Elvis’s edgy vocals.