Elvis Presley recording history in Memphis

Elvis in the front yard of his home at 1034 Audubon Drive in May 1956
Elvis in the front yard of his home at 1034 Audubon Drive in Memphis – May 1956

Elvis Presley in front of Graceland in 1957
Elvis Presley in front of Graceland, Memphis – 1957

I’ll stay in Memphis.
~Elvis Presley

I’m visiting Memphis in a couple of weeks, so I will have put out some “Memphis related” post the next weeks.

Elvis was proud of his hometown and though most of his music was recorded in Nashville & Hollywood, some of his finest art was made in Memphis.

I’ve put together an overview of his Memphis recording session, embedded a couple of videos & made some best of lists (as usual).

But let’s first get started with his great version of Chuck Berry’s “Memphis, Tennessee“…. recorded in Nashville.

Recorded May 1963 at RCA’s Studio B. Nashville.


  1. The Sun years (1953-55)
  2. At American Sound Studio (1969)
  3. At STAX Studios (1973)
  4. Live (1974)
  5. The Jungle Room Sessions (Graceland 1976)

The Sun years (1953–55)

sam phillips and Elvis
Sam Phillips & Elvis Presley


Elvis Presley recorded at least 24 songs at Sun Studio in Memphis, Tennessee between 1953 and 1955. The recordings reflect the wide variety of music that could be heard in Memphis at the time: blues, rhythm & blues, gospel, country & western, hillbilly, and bluegrass. In 2002, the recordings were inducted into the US Congress’s National Recording Registry.

Of the 24 known songs, only 22 survive. Ten were released by Sun as Elvis’ first five singles between 1954 and 1955. With the exception of the first four songs, which were demos recorded at Presley’s expense, all of the songs were produced by Sam Phillips and featured Scotty Moore on guitar and Bill Black on bass.

1. Memphis Recording Service – Memphis, Tennessee
Summer 1953 (Saturday) (Private Demo Recording)

  • My Happiness
  • That’s When Your Heartaches Begin

My Happiness:

2. Memphis Recording Service – Memphis, Tennessee
January 4 1954 (Monday) (Private Demo Recording)

  • I’ll Never Stand In Your Way
  • It Wouldn’t Be The Same Without You

3. Sun Studio – Memphis, Tennessee
July 5-6, 1954 (Monday)

  • Harbor Lights
  • I Love You Because
  • That’s All Right
  • Blue Moon Of Kentucky

That’s All Right:

4. Sun Studio – Memphis, Tennessee
August 19, 1954

  • Blue Moon

5. Sun Studio – Memphis, Tennessee
September 10 – ?, 1954

  • Tomorrow Night
  • I’ll Never Let You Go (Little Darlin’)
  • I Don’t Care If The Sun Don’t Shine
  • Just Because
  • Good Rockin’ Tonight

6. Sun Studio – Memphis, Tennessee
November or December 1954

  • Milkcow Blues Boogie
  • You’re A Heartbreaker

Milkcow Blues Boogie:

7. Sun Studio – Memphis, Tennessee
February ? 1955

  • Baby Let’s Play House

8. Sun Studio – Memphis, Tennessee
March ? 1955

  • I’m Left, You’re Right, She’s Gone (slow version) – released on “A Golden Celebration”
  • I’m Left, You’re Right, She’s Gone (single B-side)

9. Sun Studio – Memphis, Tennessee
July 11 1955

  • I Forgot To Remember To Forget
  • Mystery Train
  • Tryin’ To Get To You

Mystery Train:

10. Sun Studio – Memphis, Tennessee
November 1955

  • When It Rains It Pours
Sam Phillips, Elvis Presley, Bill Black & Scotty Moore
Sam Phillips, Elvis Presley, Bill Black & Scotty Moore

Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash & Elvis Presley
Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash & Elvis Presley

Million Dollar Quartet – December 4, 1956

A year after Presley left for RCA, he had a spontaneous informal session with Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis when visiting the Sun studio. This meeting was recorded on December 4, 1956, and dubbed the Million Dollar Quartet by the local paper the next day. These sessions are not generally included when reference is made to “Elvis’s Sun Sessions”, however.

Since this is not a Elvis Presley session, I’ve just embedded a youtube video of “The Complete Million Dollar Quartet” release:

5 Best songs @ Sun:

  1. Mystery Train
  2. That’s All Right
  3. Good Rockin’ tonight
  4. Baby Let’s Play house
  5. Blue Moon Of Kentucky


At American Sound Studio (1969)

elvis presley american 1969

My favorite Elvis Presley sessions.

Only weeks after the TV show, Elvis made another crucial decision: He chose not to return to Nashville for his next scheduled round of recording sessions. Felton Jarvis was at Graceland to discuss the sessions, as were members of Elvis’s inner circle, and many of them happened to be connected to a new music scene that was burgeoning right under their noses, in Presley’s own Memphis. Lamar Fike held a position with Hill & Range publishing in Nashville, and now Marty Lacker, George Klein, and Red West all had song-plugging or songwriting arrangements with Chips Moman, the head of Memphis’s American Studio. When Moman had opened the studio he had his eye on a rising trend in rhythm and blues that combined elements of both black and white traditions—the trend that became known as soul. Within a few years he had produced more than a hundred hit singles, including records like “The Letter” by the studio’s own creation the Box Tops as well as others by countless R&B acts and name artists like Neil Diamond and Dusty Springfield. With Stax, Hi, and other independent labels thriving off a sound that synthesized most of the elements Elvis had always responded to in his own music, it was evident that Memphis had overtaken Nashville as the creative hub for recording. At any other time Marty’s suggestion that they forget about Nashville and move to Chips’s little studio at Chelsea and Thomas would almost certainly have been dismissed in Elvis’s usual “someday” fashion, but on this winter night Elvis and Felton withdrew from the dining room to confer, reemerging shortly to announce that they would change the session if arrangements could be made between Chips and RCA.
~Ernst Jørgensen (Elvis Presley: A Life in Music–The Complete Recording Sessions)

After a 14-year absence from Memphis, Elvis Presley returned to cut what was certainly his greatest album. .. The result was one of the greatest white soul albums (and one of the greatest soul albums) ever cut, with brief but considerable forays into country, pop, and blues as well. Presley sounds rejuvenated artistically throughout the dozen cuts off the original album, and he’s supported by the best playing and backup singing of his entire recording history.
~Bruce Eder (allmusic.com)

American Sound – Memphis, Tennessee
January 13 / 14 1969

  • Long Black Limousine
  • This Is The Story
  • Come Out Come Out (Wherever You Are) (Track)
  • Wearin’ That Loved On Look

Long Black Limousine:

American Sound – Memphis, Tennessee
January 14 / 15 1969

  • You’ll Think Of Me
  • I’m Movin’ On
  • A Little Bit Of Green
  • Gentle On My Mind

I’m Movin’ on (unedited vocal):

American Sound – Memphis, Tennessee
January 15 / 16 1969

  • Don’t Cry Daddy
  • Poor Man’s Gold
  • Inherit The Wind
  • Mama Liked The Roses
  • My Little Friend

American Sound – Memphis, Tennessee
January 20 / 21 1969

  • In The Ghetto
  • Rubberneckin’

In The Ghetto – original mono master:

American Sound – Memphis, Tennessee
January 21 – 23, 1969

  • Hey Jude
  • From A Jack To A King
  • Without Love (There Is Nothing)
  • I’ll Hold You In My Heart (‘Till I Can Hold You In My Arms)
  • I’ll Be There
  • Suspicious Minds

Suspicious Minds – alt. (and best) version:

American Sound – Memphis, Tennessee
February 17 – 19, 1969

  • Stranger In My Own Home Town
  • True Love Travels On A Gravel Road
  • It’s My Way (Of Loving You) / This Time / I Can’t Stop Loving You (Jam)
  • True Love Travels On A Gravel Road
  • And The Grass Won’t Pay No Mind
  • Power Of My Love
  • After Loving You
  • Do You Know Who I Am?

After Loving You (alt. version):

American Sound – Memphis, Tennessee
February 19-22, 1969

  • Kentucky Rain
  • Only The Strong Survive
  • It Keeps Right On A-Hurtin’
  • Any Day Now
  • If I’m A Fool (For Loving You)
  • The Fair’s Moving On
  • Memory Revival
  • Who Am I?

Any Day Now:

“Suddenly, Elvis had to be taken seriously because, suddenly, Elvis was taking the music seriously again. He was expressing his soul, which was plenty deep.”
~Robert Gordon


Elvis Presley & Chips Moman
Elvis Presley & Chips Moman

His best album:

From Elvis In Memphis
From Elvis In Memphis

 5 Best songs @ American:

  1. Suspicious Minds
  2. In the Ghetto
  3. Any Day Now
  4. I’m Moving On
  5. Long Black Limousine


At STAX Studios (1973)

elvis presley at stax 1973

In January of that year, he staged the “Aloha from Hawaii” concert live via satellite, viewed by a billion people worldwide.
But, due to a contractual obligation, he also needed to create new material. He and manager Col. Tom Parker decided that Presley’s beloved Memphis was the place to do it.

The result was two recording sessions at Stax Records, the influential studio where Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes, Sam & Dave and others created the “Memphis soul” sound in the 1960s and early 1970s.

Presley’s sessions in July and December 1973 produced country, R&B and pop songs that were released in three separate albums.

Studio Sessions for RCA
July 20-25, 1973: STAX Studios, Memphis

  • If You don’t Come Back
  • If Diff’rent Now
  • Three Corn Patches
  • Take Good Care Of Her
  • Find Out What’s Happening
  • I’ve Got A Thing About You Baby
  • Just A Little Bit
  • Raised On Rock
  • For Ol’ Time Sake
  • Girl Of Mine
  • Sweet Angeline

I’ve Got a Thing About You Baby (take 14):

Raised On Rock (Rough Mix)

Studio Sessions for RCA
December 10-16, 1973: STAX Studios, Memphis

  • I Got a Feeling In My body
  • It’s Midnight
  • You Asked Me to
  • If You talk In your sleep
  • Mr. Songman
  • Thinking About you
  • Love song Of the Year
  • Help Me
  • My Boy
  • Loving Arms
  • Good Time Charlie’s Got the Blues
  • Talk About The good Times
  • Promised Land
  • Your Love’s Been A Long Time Coming
  • There’s a Honky Tonk Angel
  • If That Isn’t Love
  • Spanish Eyes
  • She Wears My Ring

My Boy:

Good Time Charlie’s Got the Blues:

5 Best songs @ STAX:

  1. My Boy
  2. I’ve Got A Thing About You Baby
  3. Raised On Rock
  4. Good time Charlie’s got The Blues
  5. Are You Sincere?


The three albums:

  • Raised On Rock – released October 1, 1973elvis raised on rock
  • Good Times – released March 20, 1974elvis presley good times
  • Promised Land – released January 8, 1975Elvis-Presley-Promised-Land
  • An in August 2013 we got this collection: Elvis at STAX (deluxe 3 CD box)elvis at stax

Promised Land (take 1):

Live 1974

Elvis Presley Live On Stage in Memphis March 16, 1974
Elvis Presley Live On Stage in Memphis March 16, 1974

March 16-20, 1974 – Elvis plays Memphis for the first time since 1961 and does four shows in two days.

Live Recordings for RCA
March 20, 1974: Mid-South Coliseum, Memphis 

  • See See Rider
  • I Got A Woman/Amen
  • Love Me
  • Trying To Get To You
  • All Shook up
  • Steamroller Blues
  • Teddy Bear/Don’t Be Cruel
  • Love Me Tender
  • Long Tall Sally/Whole Lotta Shakin’ going On/Mama Don’t Dance/Flip, Flop And Fly/Jailhouse rock/Hound Dog
  • Fever
  • Polk Salad Annie
  • Why Me Lord
  • How Great Thou Art
  • Suspicious Minds
  • Blueberry Hill/I Can’t Stop Loving You
  • Help Me
  • An American Trilogy
  • Let Me Be There
  • My Baby Left Me
  • Lawdy, Miss Clawdy
  • Funny How Time Slips Away
  • Can’t Help Falling In Love With you


A Live album based on his performance is released July 7, 1974.

elvis recorded live in memphis

The original release of this concert in 1974 had several songs cut from the track listing, due to spatial limitations on the vinyl disc.

It’s not a very good concert performance, but still interesting stuff:

There’s been bootlegs and a FTD release, but finally in March 2014 we got “Elvis Recorded Live On Stage In Memphis Legacy edition“. This release with upgraded sound also includes the March 18 concert.

elvis march 1974

The Jungle Room Sessions (Graceland 1976)

Elvis July 1976
Elvis July 1976

 Elvis rarely ventured out of Graceland in 1976 apart from his touring commitments. Since he couldn’t be bothered to enter a recording studio, RCA brought the studio to him and set up a mobile recording studio in his now-legendary Jungle Room. During February and October of that year, Elvis recorded some of his most heartbreaking material to date, as well as some rollicking good tunes, all in the comfort of his own home.
~Steve “Spaz” Schnee  (allmusic.com)

Session For RCA
February 2-8, 1976: The Jungle Room, Graceland, Memphis

  • Bitter They Are, Harder they Are
  • She thinks I Still Care
  • The Last Farewell
  • Solitaire
  • Moody Blue
  • I’ll Never Fall In Love Again
  • For The Heart
  • Hurt
  • Danny Boy
  • Never Again
  • Love Coming Down
  • Blue Eyes Crying In the Rain

She thinks I Still Care:


graceland jungleroom
Jungleroom @ Graceland


Session For RCA
October 29-30, 1976: The Jungle Room, Graceland, Memphis

  • It’s Easy for you
  • Way Down
  • Pledging My Love
  • He’ll Have To go

Way Down:

Pledging My Love:

elvis presley 1976


5 Best Jungle songs:

  1. Hurt
  2. She Thinks I Still Care
  3. Pledging My Love
  4. Way down
  5. Moody blue

Spotify playlist – Elvis Presley Best @ Memphis:


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One thought on “Elvis Presley recording history in Memphis”

  1. Fantastic collection!!! In the 50’s and 60’s we would pass Elvis birthplace in Tupelo, MS on the way to our grandmother’s. It was decidedly less painted than it appears in pics today now that it is “historical.” Do make a point of having some grits and some bar b q while in the south. Probably some catfish, too.

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