This song was written by Otis Blackwell. Elvis recorded it at RCA studios in New York on July 2, 1956. Colonel made deals with writers/publishers for Elvis to get a share of publishing ownership in many songs he recorded and, as a result, Elvis' name appeared in the writer's credits on "Don't Be Cruel" and some others. Reportedly,
Elvis was uncomfortable with this part of the publishing deals and the practice of adding him to the writer's credit listing soon ceased.
On lead guitar was Scotty Moore. Bill Black played bass. On drums was D.J. Fontana, who also added another dimension to the sound by using a mallet on the back of Elvis' leather covered guitar. Also, Elvis slapped in time the back of his guitar. On piano was Shorty Long. Backing vocals were by The Jordanaires: Gordon Stoker (lead), Neal Matthews (tenor), Hoyt Hawkins (baritone) and Hugh Jarrett (bass). The engineer was Ernie Ulrich.
Take number 28 became the single shipped July 13, 1956. It sold so quickly that five gold records were given to Elvis all on one plaque. It reached #1 on all three major US charts. It was #1 in the USA on the Billboard's pop singles chart for 11 weeks, staying a total of 27 weeks on this chart. On the Billboard's country singles chart it was #1 for 10 weeks with a total of 28 weeks on the chart. It was #1 on Billboard's R&B singles chart for 1 week with a total of 17 weeks on the chart. In 2002, this recording was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
Elvis asked for personal copies of the acetates from this recording session so he could study them and try to give his live concert performances the same sound and feel of his
Later, he commented to Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins that he liked Jackie Wilson's cover of the song better and he demonstrated the difference for them during the famed "Million
Dollar Quartet" session (an informal jam session recording made when Elvis visited old friends at Sun Studio in December 1956.)
Others who have recorded the song are Pete Best, Bobby Brown, Cheap Trick, Fleetwood Mac, Connie Francis, Tom Jones, Marty Stuart, The Judds, Albert King, The Platters, Paul Revere and the Raiders, Billy Swan, Jerry Lee Lewis, Conway Twitty and Rodney Crowell.