It was a curious choice for Elvis to record Hound Dog. The song had originally been recorded by Willie Mae ‘Big Mama’ Thornton in 1952 and was number one in the R&B charts for seven weeks in 1953. In Willie Mae’s hands the song is clearly a woman’s blues, lamenting disappointment in love at the realisation her man had no intentions other than to get from her what he can. Nothing like a Hound really!

The song written for her by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller was the first record they produced. Willie Mae describes them, ‘They were just a couple of kids, and they had this song written on the back of a paper bag.’

In 1956 Freddie Bell and the Bellboys opened a show starring Elvis in Las Vegas, performing a comedy version of the song. As a result Elvis recorded it having apparently never heard the original.

Elvis serenades a Basset Hound

Apologies if any videos are missing, but they come & go on YouTube. Let me know & I will try to resurect them or find alternatives. No promises.

The Original and the Best

Willie Mae Thornton’s original version of ‘Hound Dog’

The video below is a live performance by Willie Mae with musicians from Muddy Waters’ band, including Buddy Guy, filmed twelve years after the original recording in 1965.

Elvis has the Basset Hound but Willie Mae takes the performing prize for me even if, distracted by the twist, not quite at her best.

Can’t get enough of her, more Willie Mae. Wang Dang Doodle.

Bessie caught a rabbit, she once was a friend of mine.

Bessie came to stay with us for seven weeks over Christmas 2005. Bessie and Cocoa went out excitedly into the garden during the evening of Christmas day.

Bessie returned with a rabbit in her mouth.

Not ‘Hound Dog’ but couldn’t resist it.

Then we could go ‘Walking the Dog’ with Rufus Thomas

Just totally self indulgent, Larry Garner with ‘Dog House’, not least because when we were both younger & thinner we had a Guinness together in Baton Rouge. He performed ‘Dog House’ in the club that night, this isn’t it:

For the dedicated, one hour and twenty four minutes of joy:

hound features ☞