world News : Songwriter behind Elvis hit Suspicious Minds dies

world News : Songwriter behind Elvis hit Suspicious Minds dies
world News : Songwriter behind Elvis hit Suspicious Minds dies

Thursday 13 June 2024 10:52 PM

newsonline - Mark James - the Grammy-winning songwriter behind Elvis Presley's hit Suspicious Minds - has died aged 83.

A member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, he also wrote Hooked On A Feeling and co-wrote Always On Mind.

James died on 8 June at his home in Nashville, as first reported by his hometown newspaper, the Houston Chronicle.

His family said in a statement: "Mark's legacy and zest for life will live on in the hearts of those who loved him, and through his timeless lyrics and melodies that have been the soundtrack of lovers for generations."

Named as a Songwriter Of The Century by Broadcast Music (BMI) in 2000, the music licensing company also put Suspicious Minds, Hooked On A Feeling and Always On My Mind on a list of the 100 greatest songs of the 20th century.

Image: Elvis Presley performing in Las Vegas. Pic: PA

James won two Grammys in 1983 for Always On My Mind, which he shared with co-writers Wayne Carson and Johnny Christopher.

Most associated with Elvis Presley, it was also recorded by Willie Nelson and the Pet Shop Boys. The song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2008.

More on Elvis Presley

Suspicious Minds, which became one of Presley's signature songs, was initially written by James for his own recording career in the late 1960s.

It was inspired by James's feelings for a childhood sweetheart, while both were married to other people.

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Speaking about the song to the Wall Street Journal later in his career, James described it as a "confusing time," that "felt as though all three of us were all caught in this trap that we couldn't walk out of".

In 1969 it became the King's final number one, reinvigorating Presley's flagging career, and helping him to become the biggest entertainer in Las Vegas through to his death eight years later.

Suspicious Minds was also recorded by Fine Young Cannibals, reaching number eight in the UK charts in 1986.

Mark James performs at the Songwriters Hall of Fame Awards in 2014. Pic: AP
Image: James performing at the Songwriters Hall of Fame Awards in 2014. Pic: AP

Another of James's songs, Hooked On A Feeling, which was originally recorded by American singer B J Thomas in 1969 reaching number five in the US charts, was re-recorded in 1974 by Blue Swede incorporating a catchy "ooga-chaka" chant, hitting US number one.

It's gone on to be featured in movies including Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs and Guardians Of The Galaxy, and a cover was recorded just this year by Swedish rock band The Hives - keeping in the inspired Blue Swede chant.

James also wrote other songs for Presley, including Moody Blue, the title track to his final album, and It's Only Love and Raised On Rock.

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James is also a member of the Texas Songwriters Hall Of Fame, the New York Songwriters Hall Of Fame and the Nashville Songwriters Hall Of Fame.

In 2021, Sony/ATV Music Publishing announced that it had signed a deal with James, renewing a contract that began 50 years earlier when he signed with Screen Gems/EMI.

It also secured extended rights for Suspicious Minds, Hooked On A Feeling and Always On My Mind.

James is survived by his wife of 53 years, Karen Zambon, his daughters Sammie and Dana Zambon, and grandchildren.

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