Elvis Presley: How a Health Issue Impacted His First Recordings at American Sound

by Clayton Edwards

In January of 1969, Elvis Presley was ready to hit the ground running once more. The ’68 Comeback Special hit the airwaves in December. It breathed new life into The King’s career. So, he was itching to get back in the studio and do what he did best – crank out some tunes. However, instead of recording in Los Angeles or Nashville like he usually did, Elvis decided to switch things up.

For his early 1969 recordings, Elvis Presley headed to American Sound Studio. It had a killer house band and was only ten miles away from Graceland, according to the Official Graceland Blog. The King couldn’t lose with that combination. On top of that, recording in Memphis again was like everything coming full circle for Elvis. He hadn’t recorded anything in West Tennessee since his early days at Sun Studio. However, Elvis was dealing with a minor health issue.

The Health Issue That Impacted Elvis Presley’s American Sound Studio Recordings

When Elvis Presley stepped into American Sound Studio, he was dealing with a case of laryngitis. For the average person, laryngitis is rough. It’s an inflammation of the vocal cords. Symptoms usually include a sore throat and a hoarse voice. Elvis wasn’t an average person by any means. He was The King of Rock and Roll. He relied on his golden voice to reach the masses.

However, Elvis Presley didn’t let a little thing like a hoarse voice or sore throat stop him from cutting some songs. He was working on what would become From Elvis in Memphis. On some of those tracks, you can faintly hear the hoarseness in his voice. However, he was smart about the songs he cut in that first session. He did songs on which that hoarseness would work. On that day he recorded several songs. The two that made it on the album were “Long Black Limousine,” and “Wearin’ That Loved On Look.”

“Wearin’ That Loved On Look”

These bluesy, soulful tunes actually benefitted from Elvis Presley’s laryngitis. He came back the next day to cut a few more songs. Among those were “I’m Movin’ On” and a portion of “Gentle on My Mind,” he didn’t finish the latter that day, though. His condition was getting worse. The King knew that to be his best, he needed to give his vocal cords a break. Just listen to “I’m Movin’ On,” though. He nails every note. Knowing that he was sick enough to return to Graceland in the middle of a session later that day just makes this song even better.