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  • The same writer was behind Elvis Presley’s “All Shook Up” and “Don’t Be Cruel,” which sound similar.
  • He also co-wrote “Return to Sender,” which is more distinct.
  • “Don’t Be Cruel” held a chart record for decades.

The same songwriter co-wrote Elvis Presley‘s “All Shook Up,” “Don’t Be Cruel,” and “Return to Sender.” In addition, that songwriter penned classic tunes for Jerry Lee Lewis and Peggy Lee. Subsequently, the writer was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Otis Blackwell wrote Elvis Presley’s ‘All Shook Up,’ ‘Don’t Be Cruel,’ and ‘Return to Sender’

Otis Blackwell was one of the most notable songwriters of the 1950s and early 1960s. He wrote tunes such as Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Great Balls of Fire,” Peggy Lee’s “Fever,” and “Nine Times Out of Ten” by Cliff Richard. However, he is most known for writing Elvis’ tunes “All Shook Up,” ‘Don’t Be Cruel,” and “Return to Sender.” He also penned some of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll‘s less famous tracks, including “(Such an) Easy Question,” “Paralyzed,” and “We’re Coming in Loaded.”

It’s easy to tell that “All Shook Up” and “Don’t Be Cruel” came from the same mind. The two songs have an early doo-wop feel and a similar, gently rocking beat. “Return to Sender” is significantly different from the other two songs, partly because of its distinct saxophone riff. 

Otis Blackwell was sadly ignored by Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis Presley biopic

While Blackwell’s contributions to rock ‘n’ roll history are enormous, he doesn’t get enough recognition today. Baz Luhrmann’s film Elvis put the spotlight on some of the artists whose songs Elvis covered, including Little Richard, Big Mama Thornton, and Arthur Crudup. Blackwell is not even mentioned in the film.

However, Blackwell posthumously received another honor. In 2010, Carole King inducted him into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. He was given the Ahmet Ertegun Award, which is reserved for artists who work behind the scenes.


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How ‘All Shook Up,’ ‘Don’t Be Cruel,’ and ‘Return to Sender’ performed on the charts

The Billboard Book of Number 1 Hits reports that all three songs were huge. “All Shook Up” was No. 1 on the Billboard Top 100 for eight weeks. Meanwhile, “Don’t Be Cruel” became a double A-side along with Elvis’ “Hound Dog.” The tunes reached No. 1 on the Billboard Top 100 for a whopping 11 weeks. No song lasted longer at the top of the American charts until Santana and Rob Thomas released “Smooth” in 1999.

“Return to Sender” was the only one of the songs that didn’t hit No. 1 . It reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, behind The Four Seasons’ “Big Girls Don’t Cry.” “All Shook Up,” “Don’t Be Cruel,” and “Return to Sender” appeared on the compilation album Elvis: 30 #1 Hits. That record was No. 1 on the Billboard 200 for three weeks, lasting on the chart for 166 weeks in total.

“All Shook Up,” “Don’t Be Cruel,” and “Return to Sender” are perfect songs, and they wouldn’t exist without Blackwell’s incredible talent.