elvis was the king of the double-sided hit (1956-1968)

Es­ti­mated reading time is 7 minutes.

DU­ELING POP CHARTS ex­isted during most of the heyday of rock & roll music. Due to the weird ways in which the var­ious mag­a­zines com­piled their charts, there were often major dif­fer­ences in where a record found it­self on any given week. Records reached #1 on one chart but pooped out at #3 on the others. And be­cause of the way these charts were com­piled, both sides of the same record could be hits in­de­pen­dent of one another!

The per­centage of chart record that be­came double-sided hits was rel­a­tively small. Still, there were enough to make them a topic of in­terest to some his­to­rians and es­pe­cially to Elvis fans. Why? Be­cause, like so many other fields of in­ves­ti­ga­tion, he dom­i­nates the figures.

Throughout the rock & roll years, four mag­a­zines gave pop music fans four dif­ferent opin­ions on the state of the music! And the opin­ions did differ: Records made the Top 10 on one survey but failed to reach the Top 20 on others. Each pub­li­ca­tion had ti­tles that reached #1 on their chart but didn’t top the other mag­a­zines’ charts.


Elvis had more double-sided hit sin­gles on the pop charts than any other artist.


A double-sided hit single is a single (78 or 45 rpm) where both sides reached the charts sep­a­rately from the other side as an in­di­vidual hit. For ex­ample, the A-side of Elvis’s third RCA Victor single, Hound Dog, peaked at #2 on the Bill­board Top 100 in 1956.

It was kept from the top po­si­tion by its flip-side, Don’t Be Cruel, which passed Hound Dog out and reached #1, where it stayed for eleven weeks! This was nei­ther the first nor the last double-sided hit on the charts, but it is the most famous.


Elvis 1955 Record Ad MostTalkedAbout 500

To an­nounce their new ac­qui­si­tion, RCA Victor placed this full-page ad in the trade pa­pers in De­cember 1955. Calling him “the most talked-about new per­son­ality in the last 10 years of recorded music,” they were pro­moting his first Victor re­lease, I Forgot To Re­member To Forget / Mys­tery Train. This was a reissue of his fifth single for Sun Records and RCA was able to as­sist both sides to #1 on Bill­board’s Country & Western chart in Feb­ruary 1956. Oddly, nei­ther side even dented the na­tional Top 100 pop charts.

The national charts

This com­peting data was due to the sources used by each mag­a­zine and how each mag­a­zine tal­lied the in­for­ma­tion gleaned from those sources. Here are the Big 4:

This mag­a­zine pub­lished a weekly survey ti­tled the Top 100 until 1958 when its title was changed to the Hot 100. Founded in 1894 as The Bill­board, it is still a pres­ence in the in­dustry today.

Cash Box
This mag­a­zine pub­lished a weekly survey ti­tled the Top 100 that was re­put­edly based on sales alone. It ran from 1942 to 1996.

Music Vendor
This mag­a­zine pub­lished a weekly survey ti­tled the 100 Top Pops starting in 1954. It ran from 1946 to 1964, then changed its name to Record World and lasted until 1982.

This mag­a­zine is usu­ally as­so­ci­ated with the­ater in New York and movies in Hol­ly­wood but also pub­lished a weekly chart for years. Founded in 1905, it is still pub­lished today.

Reg­ular readers of my ar­ti­cles know that I prefer the Cash Box survey as it was the one con­sid­ered to have been based on ac­tual sales. But for this ar­ticle, I will be using the Bill­board pop chart.


Elvis 1959 ad AFoolSuchAsI 500 dark

As this full-page ad from 1959 in­di­cates, RCA Victor in­tended the hard-rocking I Need Your Love Tonight as the des­ig­nated A-side but it was the jaun­tier A Fool Such As I that was the winner on the charts. This is one of the better Elvis pic­ture sleeves of the ’50s, with Presley looking se­rious and sexy in a still from Jail­house Rock.

Sales jukes and jocks

During the early years of rock & roll, Bill­board main­tained four major charts that sur­veyed the ac­tion of sin­gles. These charts were:

Best Sellers in Stores
This chart tab­u­lated the sales of records at the re­tail level. It ran from Jan­uary 1, 1955, to Oc­tober 13, 1958.

Most Played by Jockeys
This chart kept track of what records were played the most on the radio. It ran from Jan­uary 1, 1955, to July 28, 1958.

Most Played in Juke Boxes
This chart tal­lied all the nickels dropped into juke­boxes and the ti­tles se­lected. It ran from Jan­uary 1, 1955, to June 17, 1957.

Top 100/Hot 100
This chart com­bined the re­sults of the three charts above and ranked each record on a com­bi­na­tion of air­play (which was free), jukebox play (each play a frac­tion of the cost of a record), and, lo and be­hold, the ac­tual sales of the records. The exact for­mula for the rank­ings is as se­cret as the recipes for Coca-Cola and Ken­tucky Fried Chicken. It was launched on No­vember 12, 1955, and con­tinues to the present.

It is the Bill­board Top 100/Hot 100 that I use below. The reason for that is the use of jukebox and radio play dra­mat­i­cally af­fected the rank­ings of records on this survey. This is not only true for the des­ig­nated A-sides of each record but also for the flip-sides, es­pe­cially for bigger artists like Elvis and the Beatles.


Elvis 1962 ad DevilInDisguise 500 dark

This full-page ad from 1963 was for the follow-up to the One Broken Heart For Sale, the first new Presley single that failed to make the Bill­board Top 10. De­spite being a rea­son­ably strong B-side, Please Don’t Drag That String Around was the first flip-side not to make the Top 100.

King of the whole wide world

When it comes to double-sided hit sin­gles, there is one undis­puted king, Elvis Presley. From early 1956 through late 1968, Presley saw both sides of his sin­gles reach the Bill­board Top 100 as in­di­vidual hits 39 times! No other artist comes close, as the list below shows.

Here are three lists: the first has every artist with ten or more double-sided hits in the Top 100 be­tween 1956 and 1968. The second has those same artists’ double-sided hits that made the Top 40. The third, those same artists’ double-sided hits that made it to the Top 10.

Top 100
Elvis Presley                                                                                                    39

Bea­tles                                                                                                              24
Fats Domino                                                                                                   24
Pat Boone                                                                                                         21
Nat King Cole                                                                                                  21
Ricky Nelson                                                                                                    19
Brenda Lee                                                                                                       16
Ray Charles                                                                                                      16
Perry Como                                                                                                      14
Connie Francis                                                                                                13
Everly Brothers                                                                                               12
Jackie Wilson                                                                                                  10

Top 40
Elvis Presley                                                                                                    25

Bea­tles                                                                                                               13
Ricky Nelson                                                                                                    11
Pat Boone                                                                                                         10
Fats Domino                                                                                                      8
Perry Como                                                                                                        7
Everly Brothers                                                                                                 7

Connie Francis                                                                                                  6
Nat King Cole                                                                                                    5
Brenda Lee                                                                                                         5
Ray Charles                                                                                                        4
Jackie Wilson                                                                                                    4

Top 10
Elvis Presley                                                                                                       5

Ricky Nelson                                                                                                      4
Bea­tles                                                                                                                4
Perry Como                                                                                                        3
Everly Brothers                                                                                                 2
Nat King Cole                                                                                                    1
Connie Francis                                                                                                  1
Brenda Lee                                                                                                         1
Fats Domino                                                                                                      0
Pat Boone                                                                                                           0
Ray Charles                                                                                                        0
Jackie Wilson                                                                                                    0

For those readers who wonder where cer­tain artists rank, the Beach Boys had seven double-sided hits, Chuck Berry and the Four Sea­sons only had four each. Even Frank Sinatra didn’t have ten double-sided hits!


Elvis 1965 ad ItFeelsSoRight 500

While Crying In The Chapel was still in the Top 10, RCA Victor re­leased a new Presley single, this time to help plug and ex­ploit the latest Elvis movie, Tickle Me. As the full-page ad from 1965 above in­di­cates, the des­ig­nated A-side was the scorching torch song It Feels So Right. But fans pre­ferred the playful Easy Ques­tion and made it the hit side. 

All of Elvis’ double-sided hits

Here is a list of every Presley single that saw both sides chart sep­a­rately on the Bill­board pop charts. The des­ig­nated A-side is listed first and parts of song ti­tles in paren­theses have been omitted:


Heart­break Hotel                                                                                             1
I Was The One                                                                                                23

I Want You, I Need You, I Love You                                                             3
My Baby Left Me                                                                                            31

Hound Dog                                                                                                        2
Don’t Be Cruel                                                                                                   

Love Me Tender                                                                                                1
Any Way You Want Me                                                                                27


Playing For Keeps                                                                                         34
Too Much                                                                                                           

All Shook Up                                                                                                      1
That’s When Your Heartaches Begin

Teddy Bear                                                                                                         1
Loving You

Jail­house Rock                                                                                                 1
Treat Me Nice


Don’t                                                                                                                    1
I Beg Of You                                                                       

Wear My Ring Around Your Neck                                                               3
Doncha’ Think It’s Time

Hard Headed Woman                                                                                     2
Don’t Ask Me Why                                                                                         

I Got Stung                                                                                                        8
One Night                                                                                                           4


I Need Your Love Tonight                                                                              4
A Fool Such As I                                                             

A Big Hunk O’ Love                                                                                          1
My Wish Came True


Stuck On You                                                                                                     1
Fame And For­tune 

It’s Now Or Never                                                                                             1
A Mess Of Blues

Are You Lone­some To-night?                                                                         1
I Gotta Know


Sur­render                                                                                                           1
Lonely Man

Wild In The Country                                                                                     26
I Feel So Bad                                                                                                     

Little Sister                                                                                                        5
His Latest Flame                                                                                             

Can’t Help Falling In Love                                                                             4
Rock-A-Hula Baby


Good Luck Charm                                                                                             1
Any­thing That’s Part Of You

She’s Not You                                                                                                     5
Just Tell Her Jim Said Hello

Re­turn To Sender                                                                                             2
Where Do You Come From?                                                                       


One Broken Heart For Sale                                                                         11
They Re­mind Me Too Much Of You                                                           

Bossa Nova Baby                                                                                             8


Kissin’ Cousins                                                                                                12
It Hurts Me                                                                                                     

Viva Las Vegas                                                                                               29
What’d I Say                                                                                                   

Ain’t That Loving You Baby                                                                        16
Ask Me                                                                                                             


It Feels So Right                                                                                             55
Easy Ques­tion                                                                                                 


Tell Me Why                                                                                                    33
Blue River                                                                                                       

Frankie And Johnny                                                                                     25
Please Don’t Stop Loving Me                                                                     

Spinout                                                                                                            40
All That I Am                                                                                                   


Long Legged Girl                                                                                           63
That’s Someone You Never Forget                                                           

There’s Al­ways Me                                                                                        56

Big Boss Man                                                                                                 38
You Don’t Know Me                                                                                     


Stay Away                                                                                                       67
U.S. Male                                                                                                         

Your Time Hasn’t Come Yet Baby                                                              72
Let Your­self Go                                                                                               

Al­most In Love                                                                                               95
A Little Less Con­ver­sa­tion                                                                         

Re­leased in Sep­tember 1968, Al­most In Love / A Little Less Con­ver­sa­tion was Elvis’s last double-sided hit be­fore Bill­board changed its ranking system for ranking hits. In 1969, the Hot 100 chart stopped listing the two sides of sin­gles separately.

Elvis con­tinued to have double-sided hits until the day he died, but they weren’t the same kind of double-sided hits as he en­joyed through 1968. Since Bill­board kept using a for­mula that in­cluded spins on radio, changing the system didn’t make a whole lotta sense.

And the change made Bill­board a lot less fun to follow for chart-watchers and Elvis fans alike.

Elvis was the undis­puted king of double-sided hit sin­gles on the na­tional pop charts! Click To Tweet

Elvis TickleMe JocelynLane publicity photo 1000

FEA­TURED IMAGE: The photo at the top of this page is a pub­licity still from the movie Tickle Me. Elvis is posing with his gor­geous co-star Jo­celyn Lane. She was born as Jo­celyn Olga Bolton in Vi­enna, Aus­tria in 1937. By the time she was 18 years old, Lane had es­tab­lished her­self as a pop­ular model in the UK. After star­ring in Tickle Me, she was fea­tured in the Sep­tember 1966 issue of Playboy. In 1973, she mar­ried Spanish Prince Al­fonso and re­tired from mod­eling and acting.


4 thoughts on “elvis was the king of the double-sided hit (1956-1968)”

  1. “It Hurts Me” as the B-Side of “Kissin’ Cousins”....In the face of Beat­le­mania. That one still kills me.

    • D

      No ar­gu­ment there.

      All three of the sides he recorded in Jan­uary 1964 should have been A-sides: It Hurts Me, Ask Me, and Mem­phis Ten­nessee.

      An­other big boner: All That I Am should have been the side they pushed, not the ridicu­lous Spinout. In the UK, All That I Am was a Top 20 hit.


  2. My all-time fa­vorite double-A-side is “Little Sister” / “His Latest Flame.” Runner up is “Can’t Help Falling In Love” / “Rock-a-Hula Baby.”

    “Little Sister” is in my Top 10 Elvis vo­cals. Pure genius.

    • D

      As “Hound Dog” is my #! Super-Duper Fav­erave All-Time Record, then “Hound Dog” / “Don’t Be Cruel” is my fave double-sided hit.

      Non-Elvisly, the Beach Boys’ “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” / “God Only Knows” is also right up there.



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