There is no doubt that we must consider 1956 as THE most important year in the career of Elvis Presley. On November 21st 1955, Elvis had signed the contract with RCA. To be accurate, it was Gladys and Vernon Presley
who signed the agreement, since Elvis was not old enough to do this on his own. Steve Sholes, at that time working as an artist manager at RCA, had made his life's dodgiest decision; he had spent 40,000 dollars to buy the contract that the boy from Tupelo,
Mississippi had with Sam Phillips and his Sun Records ($ 35,000 to Phillips, and $ 5,000 for Presley). This was an unheard of amount of money in 1955. The management of RCA made Sholes understand that this "high-risk project" had to be a success if he had
any thoughts about still being a part of the RCA company. It turned out that Sholes had found King Midas.
In 1956, popular music was drifting. Former stars such as Frank Sinatra and Mario Lanza had performed music that everyone
listened to. The flourishing youth culture had reached a point where it in a greater degree wanted to oppose against their parents, and the older generations. The youth wanted something they could call their own, and Rock'n'Roll was the answer. And this genre
got its definitive breakthrough in the years 1954 to 1956. Many Rock'n'Roll artists had Afro-American origin, besides that many of them was coming of age. The market now hungered for a young, pretty, white, talented and vital boy who could spread the genre
to a wider audience. Elvis fitted this profile perfectly!
On January 10th Elvis and the band gathered in the RCA studio in New York, and just hours later they had recorded "I Got A Woman", "Money Honey" and "Heartbreak
Hotel". A couple of weeks later, "Heartbreak Hotel" was selected as Elvis’ first RCA single. After just one week the first million copies had shifted owner, and the above-mentioned Steve Sholes secured his job and his reputation with RCA forever.
Elvis was very busy in 1956. Already in late January, Elvis debuted on national television on The Dorsey Brothers' Stage Show. This was a show he attended a total of 6 times. Later, he contributed in two TV shows with
Milton Berle, where Elvis during his second appearance had his infamous performance of "Hound Dog". Then he took part in a show with Steve Allen, and later even two appearances on, at that time America's most popular television program, The Ed Sullivan
Show. In late summer Elvis filmed his first movie Love Me Tender. In addition to all of what is now referred to, Elvis went on numerous tours throughout the United States. In between there were a total of 7 studio sessions. As mentioned above,
1956 was a very busy year, and the workload was close to inhuman.
"Heartbreak Hotel" hit #1 on the Billboard on April 21st. It remained on the top spot for 8 consecutive weeks. Already July 28th Elvis
got his second #1 on the Billboard chart with the ballad "I Want You, I Need You, I Love You". It admittedly only spent one week at the top, but only three weeks later on August 18th entered the duo "Don’t Be Cruel" / "Hound Dog" the top spot
on the chart. This single, that is the only one in the history of pop music where both sides ended up at #1 on the same chart, spent formidably 11 weeks in the top position (the top spot was shared between the sides). On November 3rd, Elvis got
his fourth #1 of the year when the title song from the movie Love Me Tender literally took off. It remained on the top spot for a total of 5 weeks. During 1956 Elvis held a total of 25 weeks on the top of the Billboard chart, an achievement unheard
of at the time.
The following singles achieved the highest chart positions in the charts of 1956;
1. Elvis Presley - Hound Dog
(Chart; US Billboard; #1 – Aug 1956 / UK; #2 – Sep 1956 / Global Sales; 10 Millions)
2. Elvis Presley - Heartbreak Hotel (Chart; US Billboard; #1 –
Mar 1956 / UK; #2 – May 1956 / Global Sales; 2 Millions)
3. Elvis Presley - Don't Be Cruel (US Billboard; #1 – Aug 1956 / Global Sales; 10 Millions)
4. The Platters - The Great Pretender
5. Fats Domino - Blueberry Hill