Watch The Exact Moment When Elvis Presley Began His Decline

It was on this day, Dec. 13th 1962, yes,  56 years ago today, when  Elvis Presley  went to number One on the singles chart with ‘Return To Sender’” His thirteenth Number One! And one of our top 5 favorite Elvis songs!  Elvis performed ‘Return To Sender’ in the film “Girls! Girls! Girlsl” His Eleventh film!  (The King starred in three films in 1962 alone)  The “Hookey” opening bars and backing on baritone saxophone was performed by the great Boots Randolph!

Little could anyone know that the crown was already resting too heavy on the King’s head.

Return to Sender was recorded on March 27, 1962, at Radio Recorders in Hollywood and featured Presley’s longtime cohorts Scotty Moore on guitar and D.J. Fontana on drums  Barney Kessel on electric guitar, Tiny Timbrell on acoustic guitar, Ray Siegal on double bass, Dudley Brooks on piano and of course Boots  on baritone saxophone performing that great opening Sax riff that punctuates the record, PLUS, The Jordanaires on backing vocals.

Another saxophonist, Bobby Keys, claimed he performed the solo at the instigation of pianist Glen D. Hardin, in his 2012 memoir Every Night’s A Saturday Night. However, Hardin did not meet Presley until February 1970, when he joined his touring band. In addition, his claim is not supported by RCA, Ernst Jorgensen (the official archivist for Presley’s recordings), or session logs.

Return To Sender was written by Otis Blackwell w/ Winfield Scott.  A slight musical departure for Otis, but still GREAT SONGWRITING!

Take a look at this clip of Elvis from the film. Look closely, and you can actually see that even as early as 1962, it’s obvious that “career fatigue” is setting in! He actually checks his watch during the performance. The first time that I can remember seeing his crowd pleasing facade crack. I wonder which take it was?

This will always be the moment to me, when Elvis Presley first visibly began his downward spiral.



  1. No substance to this article at all. Elvis looking at his watch was part of the films plot as he was late for a date. The “decline” you mentioned probably refers to Elvis’ contractual obligations to making 3 movies a year. Baring in mind that during this period he was still one of the top grossing film draws in the industry, despite the British Invasion and everything after it… Just remember he came out of this period with the 1968 TV Special and some stellar recording sessions in Memphis which produced “In The Ghetto” “Suspicious Minds” and a host of other classics…..By the way, the late great Hal Blaine was the drummer on “ Return To Sender”

    • Hey Gary,
      I think we’re on the same page as to the point of our Elvis piece! “three Movies a Year” is a daunting commitment even for The King…or perhaps especially for the King! But the truth is, the first time we saw this clip, It seemed obvious that “E” was going thru the motions and lost his spark, even before we see him glance at his watch! Playful? YES! But still telling!
      But we certainly agree with your point, even in 1962 much of the best was yet to come from Elvis
      Thanx Gary, we look forward to your further thoughts!

    • Hey Bill,
      Excellent point, especially when you consider the fact that the film’s title is “Girls, Girls, Girls”
      Thanx Bill,

  2. Good to see you recognizing the Cash Box Top 100, which was a much more reliable indicator of a record’s real popularity (sales) than the convoluted formula that was used to determine the Billboard Hot 100 (sales + jukebox play + airplay).

    When Blackwell and Scott wrote “No such person, no such zone” they were correct: the US Post Office divided the country into 2-digit zones. In 1963, they officially recognized a 5-digit system called the Zoning Improvement Plan. or ZIP code. Had the song been written a year later, Blackwell and Scott might have had to struggle with “No such person, no such zip code,” which just doesn’t cut it.

    • Hey Neil,
      First and foremost, we want to extend our appreciation to you for signiing up as a subscriber to SMS! We sincerely hope you continue to join in the conversation and look forward to hearing your unique perspective, not to mention your rich experience and expertise!
      Meanwhile, we agree with you about CASHBOX! That whole thing with Billboard “tracking” Juke Boxes, never made sense to us. However I will admit, when I was getting started in the music biz, we’d proudly claim bragging rights for a number one record, no matter where it came from! I recall a particular experience with a songwriter when I worked at Warner Bros. He came up to me one morning and said “Hey, we’re number one! I replied, WOW, where? He replied… BRAZIL! I think you get what I’m saying!
      Thanx Neil, looking forward to your further thoughts…

      • RICK

        I agree that any artist should be pleased that any record of theirs made #1 anywhere!

        In the US, reaching the top of the Billboard chart was always a bigger deal than making it to the top of Cash Box, but if “popularity” means how many folks actively expressed their enjoyment of the record by spending their money and buying it rather than passively enjoying it on the radio, then Cash Box was always a better gauge than Billboard.



        PS: My vote for the end of Elvis was his showing up for f*cked up for the September 1970 Nashville sessions. Up until then, you can argue that he was at the very least holding his Demon(s) at bay. After that . . .

        • Hey Neal,
          Bravo! We have all danced around and played with the date certain of .the Kung’s decline, but you’ve nailed down the time and place!
          Furthermore, we get what you’re saying about Cashbox and don’t disagree!
          Thanx Neal, we always enjoy it when you show up with your keen insight and experience!
          Don’t be a stranger!

        • I’d vote for the time he tried to get Hoover to make him a Jr. Gman and Hoover passed him off to Nixon. All the while E was hammered on various and sundry pharmaceuticals. Great times.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.