During one of The Beatles‘ early performances, Paul McCartney sang one of Elvis Presley‘s songs. Paul said the other Beatles peed themselves because of his rendition of the song. Notably, the song became a massive hit for Elvis in the United States and the United Kingdom.
How the other Beatles reacted to Paul McCartney singing 1 of Elvis Presley’s songs
According to Uncut, The Beatles performed a show in Litherland Town Hall in 1960 after they returned from Hamburg, Germany. Paul discussed the performance in 2020. “Aintree Institute, Litherland Town Hall … we used to play all those gigs quite regularly,” he recalled. “It’s funny, the memories that come into your head.”
“I think that was when I was doing ‘Are You Lonesome Tonight?‘” he said. “In the middle of the record, Elvis delivers this little soliloquy — ‘They say the world’s a stage … ‘ So I tried this at Litherland. I glanced at the rest of the band and they were peeing themselves. That was the last time I did that number!”
Paul had more to say about The Beatles’ performance in Litherland Town Hall, “I think we were advertised in the Liverpool Echo as ‘Direct from Hamburg!’ — so the kids in the audience thought we were Germans,” he remembered. “We had our hair forward, our leather jackets on, we looked different … They were quite surprised when we started talking Liverpool English.”
The way the world reacted to the song
Elvis’ version of “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” became a massive hit. The song topped the Billboard Hot 100, staying on the chart for 16 weeks. The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll initially released “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” as a standalone single. It later appeared on the compilation album Elvis: 30 #1 Hits. Elvis: 30 #1 Hits topped the Billboard 200, lasting on the chart for 118 weeks.
“Are You Lonesome Tonight?” was popular in the United Kingdom as well. According to The Official Charts Company, the song peaked at No. 1 in the U.K. It lasted on the chart for 15 weeks. Meanwhile, “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” peaked at No. 1 in the U.K., lasting on the chart for 125 weeks.
The impact of Elvis Presley’s ‘Are You Lonesome Tonight?’ in pop culture
“Are You Lonesome Tonight?” went on to have a big impact on pop culture. Comedian Sam Kinison performed a spoof of the song with far less romantic lyrics. Are You Lonesome Tonight? is also the name of a play about Elvis. Poppy Z. Brite referenced the song in the title of his short story collection Are You Loathsome Tonight? The title story from this collection is a gruesome take on the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s death. While “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” was part of an embarrassing moment for Paul, it remains a classic Elvis song.
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