Elvis Presley Performed This Song That Sparked Controversy in 1956 on Live TV Before He Ever Recorded It

by Keeli Parkey

Controversial songs have been common for many, many decades. But, it was Elvis Presley who had a song cause controversy before he ever even recorded it.

So, what happened? Well, for that story we have to flashback to early in Presley’s career.

According to the Graceland.com blog, the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll performed on the popular “Milton Berle Show” during June 1956. And, what he did on the show shocked many of its viewers. Elvis sang a couple of songs on this “Milton Berle Show” episode. One of them was his popular track, “I Want You, I Need You, I Love You.”

However, it was his performance of “Hound Dog” that really, really upset some people. And, according to the blog, it wasn’t so much what Elvis Presley sang on the popular comedian’s show in 1956 – it was how he moved about the stage as he sang it.

We all know those famous Elvis Presley moves these days. There’s the shaking hips and strutting around the stage. However, in 1956, the world had not seen him perform that way on television. Even though the studio audience of the “Milton Berle Show” went wild for it, many people watching at home were not happy.

Performance By Elvis Presley Draws Media Backlash

According to the blog, several media outlets strongly spoke out against Elvis and that performance. In fact, one Catholic outlet printed the headline: “Beware of Elvis Presley.”

Also, other publications argued that the 21-year-old’s only ability was shaking his hips.

What those media organizations didn’t realize, however, is that their negative portrayals of the singer only made the public want to know more about him. The coverage gave a boost to his career, according to the blog.

In another Graceland.com blog post, John Jackson said that when Elvis first performed “Hound Dog” on television, he had yet to record the track. Jackson was the vice president of A&R and content development at Sony Legacy Recordings. This makes the history of the song very interesting, according to Jackson.

“You think about when Elvis got in trouble doing ‘Hound Dog’ on ‘The Milton Berle Show’ and sort of had to apologize and (sing to) the dog on ‘The Steve Allen Show,'” Jackson said. “He hadn’t even recorded that song yet. So he was on TV basically promoting doing this song. He doesn’t record until after ‘The Steve Allen Show’ and no one even hears it or has a 45 single of it until after that. So that’s pretty fascinating that the whole controversy happened even before you could buy the song.”

Watch Elvis Perform Controversial Song During 1956

You can watch Elvis Presley perform “Hound Dog” below. This video is not from the “Milton Berle Show,” but it was recorded during October 1956 and includes some of his “controversial” moves. This is the legend’s performance of the controversial song from “The Ed Sullivan Show.”

Judging by the screams from the audience, they are absolutely enthralled with Elvis. He shows off his talent and his charm. It’s definitely worth watching!