62 years ago on September 17, 1955, Elvis Presley entered Billboard’s country charts with his fifth single for the Sun label. “I Forgot To Remember To Forget” sent Elvis to the #1 position for the first of his twenty-two times. This release took five months to achieve its #1 status and lingered on the charts for an abnormally long time – 39 weeks, longer than any single in Elvis’s entire career.
The record was intentionally kept in the public spotlight due to the rumors in the music world about Presley’s imminent signing with RCA Victor, which occurred while “I Forgot To Remember To Forget” was ascending to the top. When it reached the summit in February of ’56 and was knocked off its #1 perch after five weeks, the Sun single was replaced by none other than Elvis himself with his first RCA hit “Heartbreak Hotel.”
Behind the Song
Elvis recorded Phillip Stan’s new song, “I Forgot To Remember To Forget,” in July 1955 and it was shipped as the “B” side of Presley’s sixth Sun single toward the end of the summer (keeping intact Phillips’ formula of putting a more country-sounding song on the flip side and a rocker on the “A” side). In this particular case, the “A” selection was an old blues standard “Mystery Train,” which Elvis had cut several months earlier. When the disc jockeys around the country received their copies and began playing the record, surprisingly the “B” side, “I Forgot To Remember To Forget,” gained the most momentum and landed on Billboard’s country chart three months before “Mystery Train” and eventually went all the way to number one. The “A” side, “Mystery Train,” could do no better than number eleven. None of these songs, however, made the pop chart at all. By the time “I Forgot To Remember To Forget” was in full swing in its climb to the summit, things had changed in a big way for Elvis Presley, Sam Phillips and Sun Studios.
With the country chart success generated by “I Forgot To Remember To Forget” and the overwhelming response to a live appearance Presley had made before the Country and Western Disc Jockey Association’s Convention in Nashville that fall, Elvis was a hot property.
First, Sam Phillips received a visit from representatives of Atlantic Records who wanted to purchase the singer’s contract. Then RCA Victor’s New York chief Steve Sholes flew down to Memphis to talk with Phillips about signing Elvis. In the end, it was RCA which won the bidding war with an offer of $35,000. The deal was closed just a couple of months before “I Forgot To Remember To Forget” reached the number one position in February of 1956, where it stayed for five weeks. The record was finally knocked out of the top spot in March by none other than Elvis himself, with his first RCA release “Heartbreak Hotel.”
When Presley’s name first appeared at the top of Billboard’s country chart, it marked the beginning of an almost total domination, as he ruled the #1 pinnacle for an incredible 34 weeks in 1956 alone. “Heartbreak Hotel,” by the way, was not only Presley’s first number one pop hit, it reigned supreme at the top of Billboard’s country chart for seventeen weeks, making it the tenth all-time biggest hit in country music history. Elvis notched a total of ten number one country hits in his career, and “I Forgot To Remember To Forget” is the only one of them that failed to make the Billboard Hot 100 pop chart.
“I Forgot To Remember To Forget”
The statistic that always amazed Kester the most regarding Presley’s unfathomable career was the fact that his composition, “I Forgot To Remember To Forget,” stayed on the national playlist longer than any other Elvis hit—an amazing 39 weeks! The Presley record with the next longest duration was “Don’t Be Cruel”/”Hound Dog” at 28 weeks.
While the subsequent singles, albums, and concerts that came along after the RCA deal was finalized went on to immortalize Elvis as the “King of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” it was “I Forgot To Remember To Forget,” released on the tiny Sun label, that made him a country music star. Presley was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1998.
There you have it, I think that it’s really easy to say “I Forgot To Remember To Forget” someone especially if you have shared a love that would have lasted forever and if the other person was the one who gave up and left.