Monday, November 28, 2022

Big Mama Thornton's Rhythm & Blues Song "Hound Dog" And Elvis Presley's Rock 'N Roll Song "Hound Dog" (YouTube videos & article excerpts)

Rock n Roll, July 30, 2020

Edited by Azizi Powell

This  pancocojams post showcases a YouTube video of Big Mama Thornton and a YouTube video of Elvis Presley performing their versions of the song "Hound Dog".

This pancocojams post presents information about the song "Hound Dog" from its Wikipedia page. This post also presents an excerpt of a 2021 Washington Post article about the song "Hound Dog" .

A link to biographical information about Big Mama Thornton and a link to the lyrics for Big Mama Thornton's version of  that song are included in this post.

A link to biographical information about Elvis Presley and a link to the lyrics for Elvis Presley's  version of  that song are also included in this post.

In addition, this pancocojams post includes a link to the Wikipedia page for Leiber and Stroller, the composers of the original "Hound Dog" song.   

The content of this post is presented for historical, cultural, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, the composers of the song "Hound Dog" and thanks to Big Mama Thornton and Elvis Presley for their musical legacies. Thanks to all those who are associated with these videos and thanks to all those who are quoted in this post. Thanks also to the publishers of these videos on YouTube.
Click for a closely related pancocojams post entitled "Doja Cat's 2022 Hip Hop/Pop Song "Vegas" & How It Samples Big Mama Thornton's 1953 R&B Song "Hound Dog" ".

SHOWCASE VIDEO #2: Elvis Presley "Hound Dog" (October 28, 1956) on The Ed Sullivan Show

The Ed Sullivan Show,  Sep 9, 2020
"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 center 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, Hounddog, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and Nowhere Boy.


Big Mama Thornton's version (1952/53)

Thornton's recording of "Hound Dog" is credited with "helping to spur the evolution of black R&B into rock music".[7] Brandeis University professor Stephen J. Whitefield, in his 2001 book In Search of American Jewish Culture, regards "Hound Dog" as a marker of "the success of race-mixing in music a year before the desegregation of public schools was mandated" in Brown v. Board of Education.[17] Leiber regarded the original recording by the 350-pound "blues belter" Big Mama Thornton as his favorite version,[15][18] while Stoller said, "If I had to name my favorite recordings, I'd say they are Big Mama Thornton's 'Hound Dog' and Peggy Lee's 'Is That All There Is?'"[19]...
Click for biographical information about (African American) Big Mama Thornton.(December 11, 1926 – July 25, 1984), 

Click for the lyrics for Big Mama Thornton's Rhythm & Blues version of "Hound Dog".

Click for biographical information about (White American) Elvis Presley (January 8, 1935 – August 16, 1977),

Click for the lyrics for Elvis Presley's Rock 'N Roll version of "Hound Dog".
Click for information about (White American) song writers and record producing partners  Jerry Leiber (April 25, 1933 – August 22, 2011) and Mike Stroller.(born March 13, 1933).

From Blues singer ‘Big Mama’ Thornton had a hit with ‘Hound Dog.’ Then Elvis came along.

After the “king of rock-and-roll” recorded a version, Thornton’s original was largely forgotten.

By Haben Kelati, February 24, 2021 at 8:00 a.m. EST
"Imagine you have a good idea, but someone copies it and gets more credit. That’s basically what happened to rhythm-and-blues singer Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton with her song “Hound Dog.” If you know the song, you might only know “King of Rock-and-Roll” Elvis Presley’s version. But before the song helped Elvis’s career skyrocket, it was a big hit for Thornton.

Wille Mae “Big Mama” Thornton recorded “Hound Dog,” a song written for her, in 1952. It climbed to Number 1 on the Billboard rhythm and blues music charts. When Elvis Presley recorded it a few years later, the song helped his career skyrocket. Decades later, the song is still associated with Elvis. (Michael Ochs Archives/Getty)

Thornton, who was born in Ariton, Alabama, in 1926, signed with Peacock Records in 1951. She stood out when compared with other female singers. Nearly six feet tall and 200 pounds, she got the nickname “Big Mama.”

“She had this tough exterior, and she had this very powerful voice which made her also seem very tough,” says Maureen Mahon, a music professor at New York University. ...

“Sometimes she would wear a dress or gown, but she also liked to wear what people would refer to as men’s clothes,” Mahon says.

Watching Thornton sing inspired Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller to write “Hound Dog” for her in 1952. Thornton recorded it with a growl emphasizing the frustration that the song lyrics suggest — coping with a boyfriend who is also dating someone else.

Thornton had moderate success with the song in 1953. It reached Number 1 on the Billboard rhythm-and-blues chart. Several musicians recorded their own versions, but none had much success until Elvis.

The 21-year-old performer had heard a version of the song in early 1956 with some of the words changed. (It was about a dog, not a man.) Elvis decided to record it. His recording climbed to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart and stayed there for 11 weeks.

The song is seen as an important beginning of rock-and-roll, especially in its use of the guitar as the key instrument, according to Mahon.


 Elvis was able to get his version to wider audiences than Thornton, in part because he was a White man, according to Gayle Wald, professor of American studies and English literature at George Washington University. He had hit songs by 1956, but he also had access to larger, mainstream markets.

…. Because of the way race works in the United States, Elvis got accolades” for “Hound Dog,” Wald says. “He received exposure and celebrity and praise for it.”


Thornton’s influence on Elvis and American popular music as a whole is an important part of her legacy.”…

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