Elvis Presley recorded “T-R-O-U-B-L-E” on March 11, 1975, at RCA Studio C in Hollywood, Calif.
Featured on his 1975 album, Today, Elvis scored a Top 20 hit with the tune. It reached No. 35 on the all-genre Billboard Hot 100 chart, while ascending to No. 11 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.
Penned by Jerry Chesnut, the song was initially intended for a mildly successful recording artist named “Little” David Wilkins. However, when Elvis declared he wanted to record it as his next single, Chesnut happily obliged.
Elvis Smells ‘T-R-O-U-B-L-E’
Chesnut, a member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, fell into “T-R-O-U-B-L-E” by calling on his own past experiences.
“I’d played enough bars and clubs to know that when you’re up there on the stage, you can see trouble starting,” said Jerry to Country Weekly magazine in 2002. “You see everything on that dance floor—jealousy, anger, fights.”
With its rocking piano intro, Elvis recorded the song as Chesnut had intended on his demo. In fact, “Little” David Wilkins was a talented piano player and showman, so Chesnut penned the song with Wilkins’ capabilities in mind.
However, everyone bends to “The King.”
“[David] asked me one time why he didn’t get to record the song,” said Chesnut, who died in 2018. “I told him the truth—because Elvis liked it!”
Travis Tritt Smells ‘T-R-O-U-B-L-E’ Too
In 1993, Travis Tritt released “T-R-O-U-B-L-E” as the third single from his studio album of the same name. Tritt’s version substituted a jammin’ guitar for the original piano intro.
Travis’ “T-R-O-U-B-L-E” reached No. 13 on the Billboard Country Airplay chart. Of course, the tune has become a signature song from Tritt’s catalog. Tritt noted that “T-R-O-U-B-L-E” was his favorite Elvis recording.
As far as Chesnut was concerned, lightning “hit” twice when TT decided to record the song. Royalty checks from both Elvis Presley and Travis Tritt is something a songwriter only dreams about.
“I think both of them did fantastic jobs,” said Chesnut.