In the wake of the success of Elvis Presley‘s December 1968 NBC TV special, Elvis – often referred to as the ’68 Comeback Special – the then-34-year-old singer headed into the recording studio in January 1969 to build on the momentum.
Among the cuts Presley laid down at Memphis’ American Sound Studio was his seventh and final No. 1 single on the Billboard Hot 100, “Suspicious Minds.” (Note: many of his hits predate the launch of the Hot 100 in August of 1958. Those include “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Hound Dog” and “Don’t Be Cruel,” which all hit No. 1 on the Best Sellers in Stores chart.) “This is where it all started for me,” Presley told Billboard during his only in-studio interview after signing with RCA in 1955. “It feels good to be back in Memphis recording.”
Presley also remarked that it was “especially refreshing” that the American Sound sessions were among the few he did in the ’60s that weren’t tied to a film.
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After years of acting in movies and churning out their soundtracks, Presley and his pop career were rejuvenated. His comeback was complete on Nov. 1, 1969 when “Suspicious Minds,” released as stand-alone single, became his first No. 1 Hot 100 hit since 1962’s “Good Luck Charm.”
Presley continued to rack up top 40 hits in the early ’70s, including his final No. 2 smash, “Burning Love,” in 1972. (It was blocked from the top by Chuck Berry‘s novelty hit “My Ding-a-Ling.”) However, by the middle of the decade, his health began to suffer as a result of prescription medication abuse, which eventually led to Presley’s death from heart failure at the age of 42 on Aug. 16, 1977.
A version of this article first appeared in the Nov. 8, 2014 issue of Billboard magazine