"Jailhouse Rock," penned by the legendary Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, became another number-one record for Elvis Presley. It entered the British charts at number one, making it the first single ever to do so. The rock 'n' roll songwriting duo was commissioned to write most of the songs for the movie Jailhouse Rock, though they were less than enthusiastic about the assignment.
Prior to Jailhouse Rock Elvis had recorded a handful of songs from Leiber and Stoller, including "Hound Dog, "'Love Me," and a couple of tunes from Loving You. The two songwriters were not impressed with Elvis' interpretation of their material. Leiber and Stoller tended to write hard-driving, R&B-flavored runes with satiric or tongue-in-cheek lyrics that could be understood at more than one level.
Elvis, on the other hand, performed most of his material straight, as when he recorded the duo's "Love Me," which they had originally intended as a lampoon of country-western music. Leiber and Stoller also felt that Elvis' foray into R&B territory was a fluke, and they were suspicious of his interest in blues and rhythm and blues.
The three met during the April 1957 recording session for "Jailhouse Rock," and Leiber and Stoller quickly changed their minds about Elvis once they realized he knew his music and that he was a workhorse in the studio.
The pair took over the recording sessions, serving as unofficial producers of "Jailhouse Rock, "'Treat Me Nice," "(You're So Square) Baby, I Don't Care," and other tunes. Their collaboration with Elvis and his musicians on "Jailhouse Rock" resulted in the singer's hardest-rocking movie song. As D.J. Fontana once noted about his drum playing on the record, "I tried to think of someone on a chain gang smashing rocks."
The short period of time that Leiber and Stoller worked with Elvis proved beneficial to both sides. The irony and ambiguity in the lyrics of "Jailhouse Rock" gave Elvis one of his most clever rockers while the singer's sincere and energetic delivery prevented the song from becoming too much of a burlesque -- a tendency with some of Leiber and Stoller's songs written for the Coasters. The songwriters hung with Elvis long enough to contribute to the King Creole soundtrack, among other projects, but eventually they ran afoul of Elvis' management for trying to introduce him to new challenges.
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"Jailhouse Rock," penned by the legendary Leiber and Stoller, became the
first single ever to enter the British charts at number one.