Sixties City presents a wide-ranging series of articles on all aspects of the Sixties, penned by the creator of the iconic 60s music paper  Mersey Beat

It's Now Or Never

'O Sole Mio' ('My Sunshine') was an Italian song penned by Giovanni Capurro and Eduardo di Capua in 1901 and first recorded by Giuseppio Anselmi in 1907. It has since been recorded numerous times, including versions by Enrico Caruso and Mario Lanza. Tony Martin recorded it using English lyrics and the title 'There's No Tomorrow' in 1949 and reached No.2 in the American charts with the number. While he was still in the armed forces in West Germany, Elvis decided he'd like to record a version of the Tony Martin number, but decided he'd prefer a new arrangement and different lyrics. He contacted music publisher Freddie Bienstock, of Hill and Range Music, asking him to arrange for it to be done. Bienstock then flew to New York contacting Aaron Schroeder and Wally Gold, who were the only songwriters around when he arrived, and asked them to rewrite the lyrics to 'There's No Tomorrow' for Elvis. They took about 30 minutes to come up with the new lyrics, re-titled it 'It's Now Or Never' and a demo disc by David Hill (real name David Hess) was sent to Elvis, who was very pleased with it.

Wally Gold was to recall, "All the writers, we all wrote our behinds off when a project was presented to us. This time we were lucky because we were the only ones sitting in the office. We jumped in a cab to go back to Aaron's studio. We got the title in the cab, the melody was already written, and in half an hour we knocked off the lyric. We brought it back to Freddie the same day and he said, 'Great! Terrific! Go do a demo.' And we did."

On his release from the army, Elvis recorded the song at RCA's studios in Nashville on 3rd April 1960. It was produced by Steve Sholes and Chet Atkins and the musicians were Scotty Moore and Hank Garland on guitars, Floyd Cramer on piano, Bob Moore on bass, Murray Harmon on drums with backing vocals by The Jordanaires. Within a matter of weeks it had topped the American charts, although the release in Britain was delayed for months due to copyright problems. Although Colonel Tom Parker had cleared copyright in America, the copyright laws in Britain were different and the British Copyright Protection Company doubted that clearance could be obtained. However, it was and in England it immediately leapt to the No.1 spot where it remained for eight weeks, which was the longest period an Elvis number had remained top of the charts in Britain.

Although 'Mess of Blues' was the flipside in America, the British release had 'The Girl of My Best Friend' as the B side. In America, it was voted the No.1 single of 1960 and was eventually to sell 22 million copies.
Wally Gold said, "It was enormous. Number one in every market of the world, which made it, I believe, the number one single of his entire recording career. Worldwide it sold more than twenty million. For a few issues we were in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest-selling single in the history of pop music. . . .Aaron wrote other hits, I wrote other hits, but a song we finished in twenty minutes to a half hour was the biggest song of our career!"

Audio engineer Bill Porter was to comment regarding a session on April 3rd / 4th in which ‘It’s Now Or Never’ was recorded: “"In those two days we recorded 12 songs, two of which went to No.1. Elvis was having trouble with 'It's Now or Never' because he basically sang in the baritone range, and the end was in the tenor range. We recorded this song for at least seven or eight takes. At one point, I finally pushed the talkback button and said, "EP, we can just do the ending. I can splice it on without doing the song all the way through again". He answered me with "Bill, I'm gonna do it all the way through, or I'm not gonna do it at all!". So, we did it again and, of course, he got it the way he wanted it".

It's now or never, come hold me tight. Kiss me my darling, be mine tonight
Tomorrow will be too late, it's now or never, my love won't wait.

When I first saw you, with your smile so tender, my heart was captured, my soul surrendered
I've spent a lifetime waiting for the right time, now that you're near the time is here at last.

It's now or never, come hold me tight. Kiss me my darling, be mine tonight
Tomorrow will be too late, it's now or never, my love won't wait.

Just like a willow, we would cry an ocean if we lost true love and sweet devotion
Your lips excite me, let your arms invite me, for who knows when we'll meet again this way.

It's now or never, come hold me tight. Kiss me my darling, be mine tonight
Tomorrow will be too late, it's now or never, my love won't wait.
It's Now Or Never     It's Now Or Never    It's Now Or Never    It's Now Or Never

It's Now Or Never   Listen to the song

Mersey Beat Magazine Bill Harry attended the Liverpool College of Art with Stuart Sutcliffe and John Lennon and made the arrangements for Brian Epstein to visit The Cavern, where he saw The Beatles for the first time. Bill was a member of 'The Dissenters' and the founder and editor of 'Mersey Beat', the iconic weekly music newspaper that documented the early Sixties music scene in the Liverpool area and is possibly best known for being the first periodical to feature a local band called 'The Beatles'. He has worked as a high powered publicist, doing PR for acts such as Suzi Quatro, Free, The Arrows and Hot Chocolate and has managed press campaigns for record labels such as CBS, EMI, Polydor. Bill is the critically acclaimed author of a large number of books about The Beatles and the 60s era including 'The Beatles Who's Who', 'The Best Years of the Beatles' and the Fab Four's 'Encyclopedia' series. He has appeared on 'Good Morning America' and has received a Gold Award from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors.

Article Text Bill Harry               Original Graphics SixtiesCity     Other individual owner copyrights may apply to Photographic Images

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