…(January 10th, 1956), that Elvis Presley recorded his first Number One hit,
“Heartbreak Hotel.” The song, its B-side “I Was The One,” and several other tunes were recorded in Nashville at Presley’s first RCA recording session, just two days after his 21st birthday. The previous November, RCA Records had bought Presley’s existing Sun Records contract for a whopping $40,000 — $5,000 of which went straight to Presley as a signing bonus.
The music to “Heartbreak Hotel” was written by Mae Boren Axton — mother of country songwriter Hoyt Axton — with lyrics by Tommy Durden. Durden was inspired to write the lyrics after reading a newspaper account of a man who left behind a suicide note containing the phrase: “I walk a lonely street.” As was the case with many hits of the ’50s, Presley’s name was added as both a courtesy and incentive for recording the song — which also ensured that he received a third of the song’s royalties.