Sixty-four years ago, January 8, 1946, Gladys Presley gave her beloved only son a guitar for his 11th birthday. The high-spirited boy had wanted a bicycle, but his ever-protective mother had feared he might hurt himself.
A decade later, Elvis rehearsed "Heartbreak Hotel" on his birthday and, two days later, recorded it at RCA Studios in Nashville. The tune became the biggest hit of 1956, turning the former Crown Electric truck driver into the King of Rock and Roll himself.
Thomas Durden, a Nashville steel-guitarist, had composed the historic song after reading a Miami Herald story about a man who had killed himself over a lost love. His suicide note simply read: "I walk a lonely street."