Elvis Presley

Don't be Cruel

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 Presley [1956] 1956 RCA / BMG 0:00
Elvis [1956] 1956 BMG International 0:00
Elvis' Golden Records 1958 RCA 2:03
No Image 1972 RCA
Elvis: A Legendary Performer, Vol. 1 1974 Pair 2:03
No Image 1975 Arcade Music
The '56 Sessions 1978 RCA
Elvis Aron Presley 1980 RCA 2:20
No Image 1981 Warner Home Video
Diner 1982
Original Soundtrack
Elektra 2:02
No Image 1983 RCA
No Image 1984 RCA
Collection, Vol. 1 1984 RCA
No Image 1984
Various Artists
No Image 1984 RCA
The Number One Hits 1987 RCA 2:02
The Top Ten Hits 1987 RCA 2:02
The Rock 'N' Roll Era: Elvis Presley - 1954-1961 1988 2:04
Billboard Top Rock & Roll Hits: 1956 1989
Various Artists
Rhino 2:03
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
Platinum: A Life in Music 1997 RCA 2:02
24 Karat Hits! 1997 Analogue Productions / RCA 2:06
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 2:39
A Touch of Platinum 1998 RCA 2:02
All the Best, Vol. 1-2 1999 BMG International 1:59
Elvis Shaped CD Box 1999 Eclipse Music Group 2:02
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: 1950-1959 [2 CD] 1999
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 2:03
Elvis 2000 2000 BMG International 2:02
Best of Artist of the Century 2000 RCA 2:02
Legendary [BMG] 2000 BMG International 2:04
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
No Image 2001 RCA 3:03
No Image 2001 Collectables
Elvis Forever [2004] 2004 RCA
Hitstory 2005 Sony Music Distribution 2:04
Elvis #1 Singles 2006 RCA / Sony BMG 2:15
Elvis Rock 2006 Sony BMG / RCA 2:04
The Essential Elvis Presley [RCA/Sony BMG] 2007 RCA 2:03
All #1 Hits of the '50s 2007
Various Artists
Madacy 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 Music 2:03
No Image 2007 RCA 2:02
No Image 2008
Various Artists
World Picture Records / ZYX / ZYX Music 2:03
America's Greatest Hits, Vol. 8: 1957 2008
Various Artists
Acrobat Music 2:03
Greatest Country Hits of 1957 2008
Various Artists
Acrobat Music 0:00
Super Hits 2008 BMG / Sony BMG / Sbme Special Mkts. 2:04
The Complete '56 Sessions 2008 Chrome Dreams 2:08
50s Jukebox Hits 2009
Various Artists
TIP Records / Dance Street 2:04
No Image 2009 Legacy / RCA 2:06
Elvis 75 2009 Legacy / RCA / Sony Legacy 2:04
Lipstick on Your Collar: 62 Vintage Jukebox Classics 2010
Various Artists
EMI 2:04
Pure...Country 2010
Various Artists
Sony Music 2:03
Golden Age of Pop [Time-Life Box Set] 2011
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 2:05
Young Man with the Big Beat: The Complete 1956 Masters 2011 Legacy / RCA / RCA Victor 2:57
Mahiki 2011 T-Lounge 2:01
No Image 2012 Labelle
I Am an Elvis Fan 2012 Legacy / RCA 2:05
No Image 2012 Puzzled Records
No Image 2012 Puzzled Records
No Image 2012 Labelle
The Essential Collection [Play 24-7] 2012 Play 24-7 2:05
No Image 2012 Puzzled Records
No Image 2012 Must Have Records
Âge Tendre et Têtes de Bois 2012
Various Artists
Smart / Sony Music / Sony Music Distribution 2:02
The R&B No. 1s of the '50s 2013
Various Artists
Acrobat Music 2:02
The Greatest Ever Rock 'N' Roll 2014
Various Artists
Bellevue / Wienerworld 2:04
The 1950s 2014 Sony Legacy 2:05
No Image 2019 SME / RCA / Legacy 1:41
A Tribute To the Million Dollar Quartet
Various Artists
Delta Leisure Group / Performance 2:02
America's Greatest Hits, Vol. 7: 1956
Various Artists
Acrobat Music 2:03
Beatles Beginnings, Vol. 8: The Quarrymen Repertoire
Various Artists
Rhythm & Blues 2:03
Bye Bye Love
Various Artists
Bellevue Publishing 2:04
Country Number Ones of the 50s
Various Artists
Acrobat Music 2:04
No Image Tandem.Mu 2:03
Elvis by Request: The Australian Fan Edition Sony Music Distribution 2:04
Elvis: Gold Not Now Music 2:03
Rock 'n' Roll Forever: Best of the 50's
Various Artists
Dynamic 2:03
Rock 'n' Roll Hits [ZYX]
Various Artists
ZYX / ZYX Music 2:02
Rock 'n' Roll USA, Vol. 1: 1954-1959
Various Artists
Acrobat Music 2:03
No Image HMV