With all the hits Elvis had, it might surprise you to learn that “It’s Now or Never” is his biggest selling single of his career. It has reached $20 million in sales which makes it number eight in best selling singles. That’s today, in 2017 and, of course, could change in the future.
“It’s Now or Never” is based on the Italian song “O Sole Mio” which was written in 1901 by Eduardo di Capua and G Capurro. It is the second song based on “O Sole Mio.” In 1949 Tony Martin recorded “There’s No Tomorrow” which is also based on the Italian song. Elvis heard Tony Martin’s song while he was in the Army and thought it would make a good single for him. According to the book “Behind the Hits” by Rob Shannon, Elvis’ music publisher, Freddy Bienstock was visiting Elvis in Germany and Elvis told him about the song.
So, Bienstock went back home and hired Aaron Schroeder and Wally Gold, two songwriters, to adapt the music from “There’s No Tomorrow” to a new song for Elvis which became “It’s Now or Never.”
“It’s Now or Never.” was a turning point in Elvis’s career. Up until now, he was known pretty much for his rock and roll and swiveling hips. Adults were trying very hard to ignore Elvis. But, “It’s Now or Never.” had a much more mature sound and suddenly, the adults were taking notice. Of course, some of the kids that loved him before he went in the Army were now older, too and so Elvis was growing up with his fans. And, it didn’t hurt that he had just spent two years in the Army, serving his nation. That gave him a respectability he didn’t have before.
“It’s Now or Never.” debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 at number 44. It then took just four weeks to reach number one where it stayed for five weeks. It also spent eight weeks at the top of the British chart and became one of Elvis’ biggest selling songs in that country. In fact “It’s Now or Never.” was his biggest selling international song ever.
Check out the video of “It’s Now or Never.” It shows Elvis coming home from the Army. The rank on his uniform sleeve shows that he was a staff sergeant when he was discharged. That’s an amazing rank to acquire in just two years. He must have been a really good soldier.