We begin 1957 by featuring Elvis Presley’s sixth number one. As we all know, it won’t be his last. If I counted right, he will have 18 more. Elvis had four songs that reached number one in 1956 and he had occupied the number one spot for 25 weeks of the year. That’s more than any other artist had done before Elvis and more than any other artist has done since then. A record that will probably never be broken. As we’ll see as we proceed through 1957, he will again spend a total of 25 weeks at number one, tying his record from 1956.
“Too Much” was written by the songwriting duo of Bernard Weisman and Lee Rosenberg. It was recorded by a performer named Bernard Hardison in 1954. I had never heard of Hardison, but you can find the song on YouTube.
As you probably know, Elvis didn’t write his own songs. He really didn’t have to. His voice and his looks were enough to get him by. He depended on others to bring him songs. There is a rumor that Lee Rosenberg, one of the co-writers of “Too Much” approached Elvis as he was getting on a train to go to another event. Rosenberg told Elvis to look it over and let him know what he thought.
Elvis must have liked the song because he recorded it. And, of course, it went to number one. Elvis sang the song on the Ed Sullivan Show on January 7, 1957. This was the third time he appeared on the program and this time Ed Sullivan refused to let the viewers at home see him swivel his hips. The cameraman was ordered to shoot Elvis from the waist up and to not deviate from that. (They had shown his whole body on the first two appearances.) This was the last time Elvis performed on Ed Sullivan.
It was just a month before “Too Much” was released that Elvis found himself in Memphis, Tennessee at the famous Sun Studios. There he took part in the famous “Million-Dollar Quartet” which consisted of Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins. I have written up the details of that day in all of the books on Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash, I have yet to write a book about Carl Perkins.
“Too Much” entered the charts on February 9, 1957 and stayed at number one for three weeks. Right after the song fell from the number one spot (to number two), Elvis bought a home in Memphis. He bought it for $102,500 from Ruth Brown Moore, a Memphis socialite. The mansion was named for Ruth Brown Moore’s aunt, Grace Toff. Elvis kept the name and it is still known today as Graceland.
Here is the performance from Ed Sullivan. Watch for the curl of his lip that he became famous for. He knows he is only being shot from the waist up and it looks to me like he really wants to break out, but knows it won’t do any good. The girls scream once in a while, so something may be going on that we don’t see. Good recording, though.
Next: “Don’t Forbid Me” – Pat Boone