How The Beatles' Paul McCartney Got the Bass Used on Elvis Presley's 'Heartbreak Hotel'

Elvis Presley‘s “Heartbreak Hotel” is one of the most famous songs of the 1950s. During an interview, The Beatles‘ Paul McCartney explained how he came to own the bass played on the song. Interestingly, Paul made use of the bass even though he doesn’t think he can play it well.

The way The Beatles’ Paul McCartney reacted to Elvis Presley’s songs

During an interview with Scribd, Paul said The Beatles were fans of Elvis’ early songs. “When we were just starting out, we’d be sitting ’round, maybe playing snooker or something, and someone would put the first Elvis album on,” Paul recalled. “It’d make you feel so good.”

Paul wanted to make music that was similar to Elvis’. “That was always my ambition,” he said. “‘Wow, I get this. This is great. You can feel good without being goody-goody.’”

Linda McCartney bought the bass from ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ for The Beatles’ Paul McCartney

Subsequently, Paul explained how he came into the possession of the bass that musician Bill Black played on Elvis’ “Heartbreak Hotel.” “We had quite a few acquaintances in Nashville,” he remembered. “One of the guys who we knew happened to know Bill Black’s family. He was chatting to Linda [McCartney] and said, ‘That old bass is just sitting in the barn. Nothing’s going to happen with it.’”

Paul hypothesized Linda had an idea. “I think Linda thought, ‘God, talk about a birthday present!’” Paul said. “She organized it all and gave it to me.”

Paul made use of the “Heartbreak Hotel” bass. “I’ve been playing it ever since,” he revealed. “I can’t play it very well because I’m an electric bass guy. But it’s a great sound and as long as the part I’m doing is simple, I can manage it.”

The way the world reacted to Elvis Presley’s ‘Heartbreak Hotel’

In 1956, “Heartbreak Hotel” became a massive hit in the United States. According to the book The Billboard Book of Number 1 Hits, “Heartbreak Hotel” topped the Billboard Top 100. The Billboard Top 100 was the predecessor to the Billboard Hot 100. “Heartbreak Hotel” was Elvis’ first No. 1 song on the Billboard Top 100.

In 1956, “Heartbreak Hotel” became Elvis’ first hit in the United Kingdom. According to The Official Charts Company, the song reached No. 2 in the U.K. and stayed on the chart for 22 weeks. The Elvis estate released “Heartbreak Hotel” again in 1971 as a double A-side with “Hound Dog.” The double single reached No. 10 in the U.K. and remained on the chart for 12 weeks.

“Heartbreak Hotel” impacted pop culture beyond its time on the chart. The song inspired the title of the film of the same name, which is a fictional romance with Elvis as a main character. “Heartbreak Hotel” also appeared in Disney‘s Lilo & Stitch. “Heartbreak Hotel” is part of rock ‘n’ roll history and one of the instruments played on it is in famous hands.

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