Trouble (Elvis Presley song)

Last updated
Song by Elvis Presley
from the album King Creole
ReleasedJuly 29, 1958
RecordedJanuary 15, 1958
Genre Rock and roll, blues
Label RCA Victor
Songwriter(s) Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller

"Trouble" is a blues song written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, originally performed by Elvis Presley in 1958 and covered by a number of artists in later years.



Elvis Presley performed the song in the 1958 motion picture King Creole , and his recording was included on the soundtrack of the same name. "Trouble", featuring Scotty Moore on guitar, was one of only three songs written by Leiber and Stoller for the feature. Presley's performance in the film alludes to Muddy Waters and Bo Diddley. "If you're looking for trouble," he intones, "then look right in my face. Because I'm evil. My middle name is Misery." Music critic Maury Dean suggests that "Trouble," with Presley's "growling snarl," is one of the earliest proto-punk rock songs. [1]

Ten years later, Presley opened his 1968 comeback special with this number. With dark, moody lighting highlighting his sneer, the sequence alluded to Presley's checkered past and "dangerous" image and served to prove that the singer was still "sexy, surly and downright provocative." [2] [3] The piece then segued into "Guitar Man" against a "Jailhouse Rock" backdrop featuring male dancers in cells. Presley performed the song several times on tour in the early 1970s and unofficial recordings of these performances have circulated. In 1975, Presley recorded "T-R-O-U-B-L-E" for a single, but this is a completely different song.

The song was included in the musical revue Smokey Joe's Cafe .


The song uses the same "stop-time" riff as Muddy Waters' 1954 song "Hoochie Coochie Man" written by Willie Dixon. This particular riff is one of the most recognizable lick in blues, and is also heard in Bo Diddley's "I'm A Man" (1955) and Muddy Waters' "Mannish Boy" (1955).

Indeed, the key feature of the song is the use of stop time, or pauses in the music, during the first half of the progression. This musical device is commonly heard in New Orleans jazz, when the instrumentation briefly stops, allowing for a short instrumental solo before resuming.

Notable cover versions


Figure skating world champion Javier Fernández performed part of his Elvis Presley free program to "Trouble" during the 2016–17 season, [7] when he won his 5th consecutive European Championships gold medal. The program also included sections of "Fever" and "Jailhouse Rock".

American singer, songwriter, and dancer Britney Spears performed part of the first verse during her infamous comeback performance at the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards before segueing into “Gimme More”.

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  1. Dean, Maury. Rock N Roll Gold Rush: A Singles Un-Cyclopedia p. 438.
  2. Doll, Susan. Understanding Elvis: Southern Roots vs. Star Image 1998. p. 154.
  3. Doll, Susan. Elvis for Dummies 2009. p. 182.
  4. "The Official Charts Company – Gillan – Trouble". Official Charts Company . Retrieved 29 April 2011.
  5. "2021/11/19 Belly Up, Aspen, CO | Goose". 2021-12-15. Retrieved 2022-05-04.
  6. "Forget Britney: Some comebacks actually succeed". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2022-05-02.
  7. "Biography". 2017-04-06. Archived from the original on 2017-04-06. Retrieved 2017-05-10.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)