Solid Gold Spotlight: Suspicious Minds

The history of this classic Elvis Presley song

The original 45 of Elvis Presley's
The original 45 of Elvis Presley's "Suspicious Minds". source:

Suspicious Minds

Written by: Mark James
Recorded: January 23 and 24, February 28, March 18, 1969, (American Sound Studios, Memphis, TN); August 7 and 8, 1969 (United Recording Studios, Las Vegas, NV)
Mixed: August 7 and 8, 1969
Length: 4:31
Takes: 8
Elvis Presley: lead vocal
Reggie Young: guitar
Bobby Wood: piano
Bobby Emmons: organ
Mike Leech: bass guitar
Gene Chrisman: drums
Glen Spreen: conductor, viola
Albert Edelman, Edward Freudberg, Noel Gilbert, Gloria Hendricks, Anna Oldham, Nino Ravarino, Hal Saunders, Mary Snyder, Robert Snyder, Vernon Taylor, John Whelan: violin
Anne Kendall, Peter Spurbreck: cello
Norman Prentice, Bobby Shew, Art Vasquez: trumpet
Johnny Boicie, Archie LeCroque: trombone
Kenneth Adkins: bass trombone
Jeannie Green, Ginger Holladay, Mary Holladay, Susan Pilkington, Donna Thatcher: backing vocals

Released: August 26, 1969
Highest chart position: #1 (US: November 1, 1969)
Available on: (CDs in bold)
50 Worldwide Gold Hits: Volume 1 (RCA LPM 6401)
From Nashville To Memphis: The Essential 60's Masters (BMG 74321 15430 2)
Elvis: 30 #1 Hits (BMG 704650)
From Elvis In Memphis (Legacy Edition) ( Sony Legacy 751497)
Known live recordings: Elvis Recorded Live on Stage in Memphis (BMG 60987
Elvis Recorded at Madison Square Garden (BMG International 37194)
Aloha From Hawaii via Satellite (BMG 74321906432)

  • Fresh off the triumph of his NBC "comeback" special and already planning his return to the Las Vegas stage, Elvis Presley broke with his normal studio procedure in early 1969 to visit Memphis' American Sound Studios, run by producer Chips Moman, late of Stax Records. "Memphis Mafia" member Marty Lacker pressured Presley for weeks to get him to visit the studios; Elvis had been saying he wanted to see if he could "just get one more Number One" hit.
  • Chips specialized in a well-produced, orchestrated, commercial version of country-soul which had already produced several hits for the studio: the Box Tops' "The Letter," Dusty Springfield's "Son Of A Preacher Man," and B.J. Thomas' "Hooked On A Feeling." The writer of that last hit, Mark James, had already written and recorded a song called "Suspicious Minds" that Moman felt would be perfect for Elvis. The King agreed.
  • When certain members of Elvis' "Mafia," essentially spies for manager Col. Tom Parker, learned that Elvis was planning to record a song that wasn't copyrighted by Hill and Range, his usual publishing company, they threatened to veto the song unless Moman agreed to cut Hill and Range in on the publishing. Chips and Elvis absolutely refused. When the Colonel learned of his singer's insurrection, he told the spies to go ahead and "let him fall on his ass," feeling sure that the sessions would produce no hits.
  • This song was recorded at the end of an all-night session that also produced "I'll Hold You In My Heart (Till I Can Hold You In My Arms)," "Without Love (There Is Nothing)," and an unreleased cover of Bobby Darin's "I'll Be There." Presley began work on the track at 4 am, and after eight takes and several rehearsals, the basic track was in the can by 7 am the next day. The backing vocals were laid down the next evening; Elvis recorded a harmony overdub to his lead vocal on February 28; and strings were added on March 18. Much later, on August 7, the master was taken to United Recording Studios in Vegas, where brass overdubs completed the track. "Suspicious Minds" was mixed for mono and stereo that same day.
  • On the spur of the moment, Moman decided on August 7 to extend the ending of the song to give it even more of a dramatic flair. Though not often heard on radio, the "long" (4:31) version starts to fade around 3:52 and then fade back up a few seconds later, suggesting a romantic reconciliation between the singer and his loved one.
  • Although it's been reported that musician Ronnie Milsap, Elvis' friend and mentor, sings backing vocals on "Suspicious Minds," that has never been verified. Grateful Dead backing vocalist Donna Jean Godchaux was similarly rumored to sing on the track.
  • Songwriter Mark James went on to pen several songs for other artists, including "Always On My Mind," famously covered by both Willie Nelson, Elvis, and the Pet Shop Boys, as well as the later Elvis hits "Raised On Rock" and "Moody Blue."
Covered by: Jessi Colter, Billie Jo Spears, Candi Staton, Rusted Root, Dwight Yoakam, The Ventures, Daughtry, Gareth Gates, The Heptones, Waylon Jennings, Del Reeves, Billy Swan, Paul Mauriat, Wayne Newton, Carl Perkins, The Persuasions, Phish, Fine Young Cannibals, Dee Dee Warwick