About the song

Ah, yes, Elvis Presley and his electrifying performance of “Hound Dog” on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1956. This moment stands not just as a landmark in rock and roll history, but as a cultural phenomenon that shattered barriers and ignited a generation.

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For those unfamiliar, Elvis Presley was a young singer from Tupelo, Mississippi, who had taken the Southern music scene by storm with his unique blend of rhythm and blues, gospel, and country. His energetic performances and charismatic stage presence were unlike anything audiences had seen before. By 1956, he had already secured a record deal with RCA Records and was topping the charts with songs like “Heartbreak Hotel” and “Don’t Be Cruel.”

The Ed Sullivan Show, hosted by the affable Ed Sullivan, was a powerhouse of American television in the 1950s. The variety show showcased a wide range of acts, from comedians and acrobats to opera singers and classical musicians. Sullivan, however, was initially hesitant to feature Elvis, fearing the singer’s suggestive movements and unconventional style wouldn’t resonate with viewers. Public pressure, however, convinced him to take a chance.

Elvis’s first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, on September 9, 1956, was pre-recorded in Hollywood due to Sullivan’s recovery from a car accident. This, ironically, only heightened the anticipation. When the broadcast aired, the nation watched in a collective gasp. Clad in a white dress shirt with a loosened black tie, Elvis exuded a raw sexuality that was both captivating and controversial. His performance of “Hound Dog,” a Leiber and Stoller penned rhythm and blues number originally sung by Big Mama Thornton, was electrifying. While Elvis toned down some of the original song’s suggestive lyrics, his stage presence was undeniable. His hip gyrations, termed “pelvic thrusts” by the media, sent shockwaves through the nation. Parents clutched their pearls, teenagers screamed with delight, and rock and roll history was made.

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The cultural impact of Elvis’s “Hound Dog” performance on The Ed Sullivan Show was immense. It brought rock and roll, a genre previously relegated to the fringes of American music, into the living rooms of millions. It ignited a moral panic among some adults who worried about the suggestive nature of the music and its potential influence on youth. But for teenagers, Elvis was a rebel hero, a symbol of liberation and defiance. His performance helped break down racial barriers in music, blurring the lines between genres and paving the way for a new era of popular music.

Even today, over six decades later, the impact of Elvis Presley’s “Hound Dog” performance on The Ed Sullivan Show resonates. It serves as a reminder of the power of music to challenge the status quo and ignite cultural change. It was a pivotal moment not just in rock and roll history, but in American culture as a whole.

Video

Lyrics

“Hound Dog”

You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog
Cryin’ all the time
You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog
Cryin’ all the time
Well, you ain’t never caught a rabbit
And you ain’t no friend of mine

When they said you was high-classed
Well, that was just a lie
When they said you was high-classed
Well, that was just a lie
You ain’t never caught a rabbit
And you ain’t no friend of mine

You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog
Cryin’ all the time
You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog
Cryin’ all the time
Well, you ain’t never caught a rabbit
And you ain’t no friend of mine

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When they said you was high-classed
Well, that was just a lie
When they said you was high-classed
Well, that was just a lie
Well, you ain’t never caught a rabbit
And you ain’t no friend of mine

When they said you was high-classed
Well, that was just a lie
You know they said you was high-classed
Well, that was just a lie
Well, you ain’t never caught a rabbit
And you ain’t no friend of mine

You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog
Cryin’ all the time
You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog
Cryin’ all the time
Well, you ain’t never caught a rabbit
You ain’t no friend of mine