Elvis Presley’s personal life made him reluctant to record “Burning Love” but he eventually embraced it and it became a big hit.
Elvis Presley‘s “Burning Love” is such a famous and beloved song that it’s tough to imagine that Elvis wasn’t the biggest fan of it. That might have had more to do with Elvis’ personal life than anything about the song’s lyrics or composition. In 2015, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra released a version of “Burning Love” with the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s vocals and a new instrumental arrangement.
Elvis Presley preferred ‘Separate Ways’ to ‘Burning Love’
According to a 2022 video uploaded to the Elvis Presley YouTube channel, the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll wasn’t interested in recording “Burning Love.” His recent divorce from Priscilla Presley made him more interested in recording sad ballads, such as the forgotten classic “Separate Ways.”
However, producer Felton Jarvis wanted to help Elvis record a new big hit. After all, none of Elvis’ tunes had reached the top 30 in two years.
Jarvis wanted to change Elvis’ fortunes during a three-day recording session in Hollywood. Jarvis got Elvis to record “Burning Love,” which was written by Dennis Linde and originally recorded by Arthur Alexander. While neither of those artists are household names, they are both legends in the world of country music.
Elvis Presley ad-libbed famous lines from the song
Elvis’ didn’t have much energy during the sessions at first. His band gave him more momentum. He improvised the tune’s “hunka hunka burning love” ending. The ad-lib recalls the title of his 1959 hit “A Big Hunk o’ Love.”
The singer nailed the tune by his sixth take. Subsequently, the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll didn’t sing “Burning Love” live very often. He was more focused on singing ballads during his later years. Despite this, he did include the show-stopper in his career highlight special Aloha from Hawaii via Satellite.
How ‘Burning Love’ and an orchestral remix performed on the pop charts
“Burning Love” became a massive hit in the United States. It reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, staying on the chart for 15 weeks. The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll never had another top 10 single in the United States, and none of his other 1970s singles performed as well there as “Burning Love” did. The track appeared on the album Burning Love and Hits from His Movies, Volume 2. “Burning Love” is the only tune from the album that did not appear in an Elvis movie. The record reached No. 22 on the Billboard 200 and stayed on the chart for 25 weeks.
A remix of the tune by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra appeared on the record If I Can Dream. The record reached No. 21 on the Billboard 200 and stayed on the chart for eight weeks. The success of If I Can Dream led to the recording of two more albums that combined Elvis’ vocals with the magic of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra: The Wonder of You and Christmas with Elvis and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
“Burning Love” is a timeless classic even if the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll wasn’t too hot for it.