Elvis Presley: Story Behind the Songs He Worked on with Chet Atkins

by Madison Miller

Legendary musician Elvis Presley never wrote his own songs. Instead, he would recruit some of the best songwriters and producers to help him create all of his rock ‘n’ roll and smooth-sounding ballads of his career.

One person Elvis Presley worked with was musician, producer, and songwriter, Chet Atkins. He was also known as Mr. Guitar or The Country Gentlemen. He helped to create the Nashville sound. It had gradually brought more adult pop listeners into the mix of country fans.

Elvis Presley owes a lot of his career to the forces of the music industry that sometimes remain not as recognized.

Chet Atkins and Elvis Presley

Chet Atkins is considered one of the greatest guitarists of all-time. He also helped pull country music out of a major slump by redefining the overall sound and bringing in talented artists.

Atkins started out with his own solo career with songs like “Yakety Axe” and “Mr. Sandman.” He would also eventually be the manager of the RCA Victor Nashville Studio, which is where Elvis recorded many of his songs over the years. He also brought Willie Nelson, Connie Smith, Charley Pride, Waylon Jennings, and Dolly Parton to the studio.

According to the Graceland website, Atkins and Presley first teamed up in January 1956 at the RCA Nashville studios. They worked together on songs like “I Got a Woman,” “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Money Honey,” “I’m Counting on You,” and “I Was the One.” Atkins performed on many Elvis songs and also helped to produce them.

Then in April he helped him record “I Want You, I Need You, I Love You.” Finally, in late 1956, Presley also recorded Atkin’s song, “How’s the World Treating You.”

Chet Atkins also played on several of Presley’s songs. That includes “I Need Your Love Tonight,” “A Big Hunk O’ Love,” “Ain’t That Loving You Baby,” “(Now and Then There’s) A Fool Such as I,” and “I Got Stung.” In “Ain’t That Loving You Baby” Presley was frustrated with the way the song was sounding. Atkins created a bass figure on the guitar to help with the song’s overall rhythm and arrangement.

The two also recorded together in 1960 when Elvis Presley got back from the Army. That included songs like “Stuck on You” and “A Mess of Blues.” His last session with the recording legend was in 1964 and helped to create hits like “Memphis, Tennessee,” “It Hurts Me,” and “Ask Me.”

Legacy of Atkins

During his life, Atkins had earned 14 Grammys and nine CMA awards for Instrumentalist of the Year. He also won the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1993.

Unfortunately, he passed away in 2001 in Nashville. He had declining health since he was diagnosed with colon cancer in 1996. However, he left behind a massive legacy and completely changed the country music world.