RCA producer Chet Atkins (left) playing rhythm guitar behind Elvis in 1956. Although Elvis brightened millions of lives with his numerous hit recordings the producers at RCA dropped the ball numerous times in the early 60s. Below is a list of sub-par arrangements/recordings/vocal performances and bad decisions by RCA and Elvis that other artists took full advantage of.
Ral Donner took “Girl Of My Best Friend” to #19 (first recorded by Elvis April 3rd 1960 and released on the “Elvis Is Back” LP). With a better studio mix and production RCA and Elvis had a potential Top 10 hit. Listen to YouTube below and hear an Elvis sound-alike slightly out perform the real Elvis by singing with more feeling.
“Suspicion” recorded by Elvis on 3-19-62 in which the master tape was later spliced from different takes. First released on the Pot Luck LP June 1962. Terry Stafford from Amarillo, Texas recorded “Suspicion” for the Crusader label. Bob Summers produced, recorded and played all the instruments on the record. Song was a potential #1 but ran into The Beatles who were holding down the Top 5 at the time. Song eventually reached #3 RIAA Certified Gold in 1964. RCA then rush-released Elvis’ version on a 45 that reached #103.
“Wooden Heart” English version of a German folk song by Elvis from his G.I. Blues movie became a #1 hit in the UK in March of 1961. RCA refused to release it in the U.S. fearing it would harm his image. Joe Dowell rushed to record it for Mercury Records (Smash) having to learn the lyrics in just a few hours taking it to #1 in the U.S. in June 1961. Elvis (Gladys Music) had the publishing rights.
“Always On My Mind” by Elvis ended up on the B-side of “Separate Ways” that reached #20 in 1972. In 1982 Willie Nelson recorded the song taking it to #1 in Country, #5 in Pop, RIAA Certified Platinum, Grammy Song of the Year, CMA Song of the Year in 1982 & 1983, CMA Single of the Year, Grammy Best Country Song & Grammy Best Male Country Vocal Performance.