During his golden days, the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley, have brought many songs into the limelight with him by performing them during his concerts. Presley would normally perform about 35 songs during concerts. Each time he covers a song, the tune takes a different turn becoming almost always a signature hit for him. One good example of this is Baker Knight’s “The Wonder of You” which Presley performed for the first time at his February 18, 1970 concert. The song was a former hit for Ray Peterson who originally recorded it as a single in 1959. Presley fell in love with Peterson’s version and wished to cover it too.
Prior to this, Peterson shared that Presley almost asked his permission to record the song during a lunch date.
“He asked me if I would mind if he recorded ‘The Wonder of You.’ I said, ‘You don’t have to ask permission; you’re Elvis Presley.’ He said, ‘Yes, I do. You’re Ray Peterson.”
Before Presley’s Performance of the Song
After that meeting, Presley did not actually record the song. Yet, he never forgot about it even during those years he’s at the peak of his stardom. Perhaps the right time has not come for him to sing the tune yet. According to Knight, it was after a decade when Presley’s camp has reached out to him for the song. At that time, Knight shared that his life was in turmoil. He had just gotten a divorce. However, that one phone call he received from Glen Hardin on that gloomy morning has changed his life and career forever. Presley’s band member told him that the singer was asking for the words to “The Wonder of You.” The King needed them badly as he had decided to perform the song on stage that very night.
After receiving the lyrics of the song transcribed by Knight over the phone, Presley spent the whole day learning it. Come evening time of that day, February 18, 1970, Presley performed “The Wonder of You” for the first time. He did not only entertain a sold-out crowd at the International Hotel in Las Vegas that night. More importantly, he made one person the happiest man in the world for giving a new life to his masterpiece.
Three months after the concert, Presley released the song as a single on April 20, 1970. The single charted at No. 9 in the United States. Moreover, it topped the UK charts for six weeks and the Irish charts for three weeks. On the country singles chart, the single peaked at No. 37. The song will be celebrating its 48th release anniversary in few days. To celebrate, let’s once again render our ears to this classic tune. Here’s a clip of Presley’s live performance of the song.
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Baker Knight, Elvis Presley, Glen Hardin, Ray Peterson