On This Day: Elvis Presley Records Mac Davis-Penned ‘Don’t Cry Daddy’ in 1969

by Kayla Zadel

Fifty-two years ago, Elvis Presley was stepping into the studio to record “Don’t Cry Daddy.” The track peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts.

The King of Rock and Roll recorded the song in two days, Jan. 15 and 21. The single was then released on Nov. 11, 1969. Additional live recordings were made in Las Vegas in Feb. 1970 during his residency. He also recorded a version of “Don’t Cry Daddy” at a dinner show on Aug. 13, 1970, at the International Hotel. This version is best known for its seamless transition into “In the Ghetto.”

Lisa Marie Presley Sings Duet with Dad, Elvis, Posthumously

What’s more, is his daughter, Lisa Marie Presley made a video of herself and Elvis singing a duet of the song. It was presented at the tribute concert on Aug. 16, 1997, that marked the 20th anniversary of the King’s death. The video has Presley’s original vocal recording. Lisa Marie’s voice as well as new instrumentation were added.

The video wasn’t meant to be commercially released. However, a recording of the performance is below.

Mac Davis Writes for Presley

This song, like many others, was written by one of Presley’s favorite songwriters, Mac Davis. Davis also wrote “A Little Less Conversation.” It’s one of the first songs that Davis and Presley recorded.

Additionally, when Elvis Presley decided to record his From Elvis In Memphis album, he asked Davis for more songs. The songwriter sent a tape with 19 songs to Presley. The first song on the tape was “In The Ghetto,” followed by “Don’t Cry Daddy.”

Mac Davis shares with author Ken Sharp about the time he presented the song, “Don’t Cry Daddy” to the legendary singer.

“I played ‘Don’t Cry Daddy’ live right there for Elvis. This was before I put the tape together for Chips Moman of my songs. I went over to Elvis’ house and played him a bunch of stuff. But it got real quiet in there when I sang ‘Don’t Cry Daddy.’ Elvis loved it and said, ‘I’m gonna record that for my daddy.’ He wanted to record it for his daddy relating it to his mother’s passing. That’s the way I read it,” Davis tells Sharp.

Davis continues, “I loved Elvis’ version of ‘Don’t Cry Daddy.’ I thought it was really poignant and really sweet. It was just the way I heard it. Kind of the way that I played guitar on the demo is the way they recorded it. I do remember thinking that I should have written another verse for it. But that was me. That’ll be on my tombstone, ‘I was still working on that last verse.'”

As for Davis, he launched a solo career soon after, landing a #1 hit in 1972 with “Baby Don’t Get Hooked on Me.”