Elvis Presley: Frank Sinatra’s songwriter didn’t want ‘pathetic’ King to sing his song

Elvis Presley stars in the 1958 trailer for King Creole

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Legendary Sinatra track My Way was released in March 1969 and spent 75 weeks within the UK Top 40. The hugely popular track was loved by many musicians and singers, including Elvis Presley. By the early 1970s the King had taken a residency slot in Las Vegas where he performed a collection of his biggest hits each night. However, it wasn’t the Elvis that his fans knew and loved. The overweight singer famously lost his edge towards the end of his life, something that singer and songwriter Anka noticed as soon as he saw him.

Anka was a prominent singer in the 1950s and 1960s, but he made a name for himself writing timeless tracks for other artists.

On top of writing Sinatra’s My Way, he also wrote Tom Jones’ She’s a Lady and Michael Jackson’s This Is It.

Anka recalled in his biography, My Way, that he used to visit Elvis’ shows in the City of Sin.

He wrote: “You only had to hang out with him for a few minutes to know he was out of control.”

Anka continued: “I saw it happen so graphically right before my eyes after he came into Vegas.”

So when the Jailhouse Rock singer approached him to suggest covering Sinatra’s My Way, Anka was not happy about it.

He revealed: “My Way meant so much to him as a song. He was going to do it.

“And I’d say: ‘Elvis, it’s not really your kind of song.’ And he’d say: ‘Nooo, Paulie, those words, they mean so much to me. Boy, I want to do that song one day.’”


Anka revealed the reason behind not wanting Elvis to sing My Way was because it was originally written with Sinatra’s voice, tone, attitude and style in mind.

But the King went against his wishes and performed the song at his shows starting in 1973 before beginning the process of recording his own version.

He recorded the song especially for a pre-planned June 1977 TV special, working alongside network CBS.

Two months after the TV special aired, Elvis died on August 16, 1977.

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Elvis’ record label, RCA, released the cover of My Way as a single six weeks after his death, placing the star onto the charts posthumously for the first time.

The song ultimately peaked at the number 22 spot on Billboard’s Top 100 chart.

Anka commented on the King’s cover of the track, saying: “In the end, that song and those words had resonance for him, but not in the way I intended.

“Basically, given Elvis’ pathetic state at the end, it was in the opposite sense that the words had had for Sinatra. There was nothing defiant or heroic about Elvis at that point.”

Anka later confessed he “cried the day Elvis died”.

He said: “He was a cool guy, a nice man, but was too young to go … he destroyed himself. Just went too far. He became another statistic. Life is about construction and destruction. It’s all in that balance, everything we see when we can look far enough.

“When you lose track of that, you self-destruct. And that’s what happened to my talented friend.”

He concluded his passage on Elvis in My Way by saying: “Elvis imprisoned himself, and lived in a perpetual night.

“And then there were the guns … There were bullet holes all over the room. He was shooting at ghosts and in the end became one himself.”


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