Big mama Thornton & the original Hound dog
Elvis wasn’t the first to sing Hound Dog
Nor was he he only one. So was the king of Rock and roll a fraud, did he steal the song?
No of course not. Things were different back then in 1952.
To understand we need to look at how things worked back when Elvis was around. You see a lot of singers sang the same song. There wasn’t a lot of home listening back then, people didn’t have access at the tap of a screen, the technology you take for granted, it just wasn’t invented back then. Or at least wasn’t accessible to most people.
People wanted to see how you performed the song not to listen to the song itself. The best way I have found to describe it is like a DJ. You go listen to a DJ in concert / giging, whatever for the way that they play the tracks, not for the tracks themselves as such. Of course most DJs still have their own tracks but they also play others. So in this instance Swap the DJ for the singer. The Singers back then sung popular songs, the fans wanted to hear their version, not the version. mainly the song writers got the money not the artist performing
Songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller were present at the recording, with Leiber demonstrating the song in the vocal style they had envisioned.
In 1952 Big Mama Thornton recorded “Hound Dog” while working with another Peacock artist, Johnny Otis
It was the first time Leiber and Stoller made a recording, that went to number one on the R&B chart. Although the record made her a star, she saw very little of the profits.
“And bow wow to you too” – Big mama Thornton