Elvis Presley

Don't Be Cruel

Composed by Elvis Presley / Otis Blackwell

Song Review by

"Don't Be Cruel" gave Elvis Presley his biggest success on record. The song was written by Otis Blackwell, a favorite of the singer. It is a lover's plea in which the narrator begins by saying he is alone and apologizing to his girlfriend, then goes on to declare his fidelity, ask her to come over, and finally propose marriage. Presley was played a demo of the song at a recording session on July 2, 1956, and immediately agreed to record it. (He took a songwriting credit as a "cut-in.") He gave it a bouncy arrangement which made for an infectious track that suggested rockabilly while remaining a pop recording. "Don't Be Cruel" was released as a single later in the month. Its B-side, "Hound Dog," proved so popular that the two songs were linked and the record was treated as a double-A-side single. It topped the pop, country, and R&B charts for months, selling more than four million copies and becoming the biggest single record of 1956. Though it remains closely identified with Presley, "Don't Be Cruel" has been successfully covered by other artists. Bass player Bill Black, who played on the Presley recording, cut an instrumental version with his Combo that reached the pop Top 20 and the R&B Top Ten in 1960. Barbara Lynn had a minor chart entry with her version in 1963. The Judds took "Don't Be Cruel" into the country Top Ten in 1987, and Cheap Trick brought it back to the pop Top Five in 1988. In addition to appearing on 12 chart albums by Elvis Presley between 1958 and 1992, it has been featured on chart albums by a variety of other artists, among them Jerry Lee Lewis, Billy Swan, Alvin Lee, Merle Haggard, and Neil Diamond. And there have been dozens of other recordings, including ones by Sandy Denny, Dillard and Clark, Connie Francis, Tom Jones, Albert King, Al Kooper, Sandy Nelson, the Platters, the Residents, and the Smithereens. Song titles cannot be copyrighted, and, in 1988, Babyface, L.A. Reid, and Daryl Simmons wrote their own song called "Don't Be Cruel," which became a number one R&B and Top Ten pop hit for Bobby Brown.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
No Image 1956 RCA
Elvis [1956] 1956 BMG Heritage 2:04
Elvis' Golden Records 1958 BMG / BMG International / RCA 2:03
The '68 Comeback Special [DVD/Video] 1968 Lightyear Video
Elvis' 50 Worldwide Gold Award Hits, Vol. 1 1970 RCA Victor
No Image 1972 RCA
Elvis: A Legendary Performer, Vol. 1 1974 Pair 2:03
Pure Gold 1975 RCA 2:05
No Image 1975 Arcade Music
50 Years-50 Hits 1976 BMG 2:02
The '56 Sessions 1978 RCA
Elvis Aron Presley 1980 RCA 2:20
This Is Elvis 1981 RCA
No Image 1981 Warner Home Video
Diner 1982
Original Soundtrack
Elektra 2:02
No Image 1983 RCA
No Image 1984 RCA
Don't Be Cruel 1986 RCA 2:08
The Top Ten Hits 1987 RCA 2:02
The Rock 'N' Roll Era: Elvis Presley - 1954-1961 1988 2:04
No Image 1989
Various Artists
Rhino
Billboard Top Rock & Roll Hits: 1956 1989
Various Artists
Rhino 2:03
The Definitive Rock & Roll Album 1990 BMG
Nipper's Greatest Hits: The 50's, Vol. 2 1990
Various Artists
RCA 2:01
Heartbreak Hotel & Other Hits 1990 RCA 2:01
Elvis: The King - Die Hits der Deutschen Charts 1991 RCA / BMG International
The King of Rock 'n' Roll: The Complete 50s Masters 1992 RCA 2:02
His Life and Music 1995 Life Times & Music 2:02
Gold: The Very Best of the King 1995 BMG International 2:03
The Essential Collection [RCA/BMG] 1995 BMG
Elvis '56 1996 RCA 2:03
It's Now or Never [Zound] 1996 Zounds Music / Zound
No Image 1997
Original Cast Recording
RCA 1:28
Platinum: A Life in Music 1997 RCA 2:02
Greatest Jukebox Hits 1997 RCA 2:02
The Elvis Presley Collection: Rock 'N' Roll [Time-Life] 1997 Time/Life Music
A Golden Celebration 1998 RCA 2:16
A Touch of Platinum 1998 RCA 2:02
Memories: The '68 Comeback Special 1998 RCA 1:42
All the Best, Vol. 1-2 1999 BMG International 1:59
Artist of the Century 1999 RCA 2:02
No Image 1999 RCA 2:02
Rockin' 1999 BMG International 2:04
Rock & Roll 1999 BMG 2:03
Classic Country: 1950-1964 1999
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 2:02
The Fabulous Fifties: Unforgettable Fifties [BMG] 1999
Various Artists
BMG Special Products
Elvis 2000 2000 BMG International 2:02
Best of Artist of the Century 2000 BMG
Legendary [BMG] 2000 Sony Music Distribution 2:03
The 50 Greatest Hits 2000 RCA 2:04
Meer Dan Het Beste Van Elvis Presley 2001 BMG International 2:02
Swedish Hit Collection 2001 BMG International 2:03
The Best of Elvis Presley [RCA] 2001 RCA 2:02
Country Heat Classic 2001
Various Artists
BMG International
No Image 2001 Collectables
The Great Performances, Vol. 3 2002 Rhino
Elv1s: 30 #1 Hits 2002 BMG / RCA
No Image 2004 Simply Vinyl 2:02
The '68 Comeback Special [Deluxe Edition DVD] 2004 BMG Heritage
Elvis Forever [2004] 2004 RCA
Love, Elvis 2005 Commerical Canada 2:04
Rockin' Across Texas 2005 Follow That Dream Records 1:12
Hitstory 2005 Sony BMG 2:04
Elvis #1 Singles 2006 RCA / Sony BMG 2:15
No Image 2006 Let the Good Times Roll / Music Products BV / Musicpro 2:03
Most Famous Hits: Early Years [DVD] 2006
Guinness Book of Hit Singles: The Hits That Never Were 2006
Various Artists
BMG / Sony BMG
The Collection: Elvis Presley/Elvis/Loving You 2006 Legacy / RCA 2:04
Rock 'N Roll Hero 2006 Sony BMG 2:02
The Early Years [DVD/CD] 2006 Braun/Whe 1:51
Hits of '56 2007
Various Artists
ASV / Living Era
The Essential Elvis Presley [RCA/Sony BMG] 2007 Legacy 2:04
All #1 Hits of the '50s 2007
Various Artists
Madacy 2:02
Hit Parade 1956 2007
Various Artists
Dynamic Nostalgia / Dynamic 2:01
The Greatest Country Hits of 1956 2007
Various Artists
Acrobat 2:02
Love Me [Goldies] 2007 Goldies
That's Alright 2007 Snapper 2:02
Collections, Vol. 1 2007 Legacy / Sony Music Distribution 2:02
Early Elvis 2007 RCA / Sony BMG / Sony Music Distribution 2:02
The Rock 'N' Roll Explosion: 120 Hits That Rocked the World 2007
Various Artists
Acrobat 2:03
King 2007 Sony BMG 2:03
Malt Shop Memories, Vol. 5 2007
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 2:04
No Image 2007 RCA 2:02
Dutch Collection 2007 BMG/RCA 2:02
Hound Dog 2007 Sony Music Distribution 2:03
Elvis #1 Hit Performances 2007 RCA
America's Greatest Hits [Acrobat] 2007
Various Artists
Acrobat 2:03
Dick Clark's American Bandstand 50th Anniversary 2007
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 2:04
The Birth of the King 1954-1956 2007 Saga All Stars 2:02
The Original Hit Albums 2007 Not Now Music
No Image 2007 Sony Music Distribution 2:03
Rock & Roll Legend 2007 Hallmark Recordings 2:02
Forever 2008 BMG / Sony BMG
World of Rock 'n Roll Legends 2008
Various Artists
ZYX Music 2:03
Yesterday's Gold: 60 Golden Oldies of the 50's 2008
Various Artists
Remember Records
Super Hits 2008 BMG / Sony BMG / Sbme Special Mkts. 2:04
Rock 'N' Roll: The Essential Collection 2008
Various Artists
Avid Jazz / West End Records 2:03
Well Worn Grooves: Golden Oldies of the 50's 2008
Various Artists
Golden Stars 2:02
World-Shaker 2008 Primo Records 2:05
Playlist: The Very Best of Elvis Presley 2008 Legacy / RCA 2:03
The Complete '56 Sessions 2008 Chrome Dreams 2:06
No Image 2008 Commercial Sales / Sony BMG 2:04
The Complete '68 Comeback Special: 40th Anniversary Edition 2008 RCA 1:42
No Image 2008 Golden Stars
Music of My Life: Golden Decade, Vol. 18 (1956) 2008
Various Artists
Membran 2:01
No Image 2008 Noel
Drug Stores and Soda Pops: 75 Slabs of Teen 2008
Various Artists
Acrobat 2:02
Elvis: Timeless Favorites 2008
Various Artists
Somerset Entertainment 2:06
50s Jukebox Hits 2009
Various Artists
TIP Records / Dance Street 2:04
Karaoke Station 2009
Elvis Presley
2:14
Rock 'N' Roll Hits: Original 50's Recordings 2009
Various Artists
Dance Street 2:02
When Dad Was a Lad: Hits of the Fifties 2009
Various Artists
Hallmark Recordings 2:02
The Ed Sullivan Show: The Classic Performances 2009 Universal
No Image 2009 Legacy / RCA / RCA/Legacy 2:06
The Rock 'n Roll [Box Set] 2009
Various Artists
Music & Melody 2:02
Elvis 75 2009 Legacy / RCA / Sony Legacy 2:04
The Biggest Hits of Elvis 2009 Mediterrano 2:04
The Complete Elvis Presley Masters 2010 Legacy / RCA
Hits of the ‘50s 2010 Jasmine Records 2:03
Lipstick on Your Collar: 62 Vintage Jukebox Classics 2010
Various Artists
EMI 2:04
The  Essential Elvis Presley [Sony] 2010 Sony Music Distribution / Sony Music Entertainment
Double Play: Elvis Presley 2010 Legacy / Legacy Recordings / Sony Legacy 2:13
Golden Age of Pop: Catch a Falling Star 2010
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 2:05
Golden Age of Pop [Time-Life Box Set] 2011
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 2:05
1978: A Time To Remember The Classic Years
Various Artists
The CD Card Company / Sony BMG 2:04
All Rock 'N' Roll Eagle Records
Best BMG
Birthday Celebration: 75th ZYX 2:03
Crea Dance Goldies, Vol. 1
Various Artists
CBS Records 2:01
De Pre Historie: 1956, Vol. 1
Various Artists
Eva 2:03
Don't Be Cruel [Membran] Membran 2:02
No Image Tandem.Mu 2:03
Elvis: Gold Not Now Music 2:03
Flashback Sony Music Entertainment 2:03
No Image V & H Holdings 2:35
La  Voix du Rock BMG France
Only You: De Schönsten Love Songs
Various Artists
Laserlight 2:02
No Image
Various Artists
X5 2:06
The Beatles: Day by Day -- The Originals
Various Artists
Mischief 2:04
No Image HMV
No Image Delta 2:03
The Rock 'N' Roll Years Dance Street 2:06
No Image
Various Artists
Mediterrano 2:04
No Image
Various Artists
Delta 2:03
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