Mark James (born 1940 as Francis Zambon) is a songwriter, well known for writing hits for singers B.J. Thomas, Brenda Lee, and Elvis Presley, most notably Elvis' last US number one hit single, "Suspicious Minds."
Mark James was born in Houston, Texas, in 1940. James befriended B.J. Thomas while both were still young.
1967-1969: Career beginnings and Songwriting
By the late 1960s, James was signed as a staff songwriter to Memphis producer Chips Moman’s publishing company, Moman producing Thomas’ versions of "The Eyes Of A New York Woman", "Hooked on a Feeling", and "It's Only Love" from 1968 to 1969 (all of which achieved success).
James released his own version of "Suspicious Minds," also produced by Moman, on Scepter Records in 1968, which in more-or-less the same arrangement recording became a smash for Elvis Presley the following year. The song was later listed on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time at 91.
1969-1977: Continued Success, Sunday Sunrise, and debut album
In 1973, James' song "Sunday Sunrise" was recorded by American Country singer Brenda Lee. Brenda Lee's version was a huge hit becoming a top ten single on multiple charts in the U.S. In 1975, Canadian musician Anne Murray covered Sunday Sunrise. Elvis Presley continued to record James' songs, "Raised On Rock", "It's Only Love", and "Moody Blue" (the title track to Presley's last studio album). But James' greatest success came with "Always On My Mind," a collaboration with Johnny Christopher and Wayne Carson and issued as a b-side by Presley in 1972.
1978-present: Grammy Wins and Always on My Mind covers
A decade after "Always on my Mind" was released, Willie Nelson covered it and it became a huge hit for him. James won a Grammy Award for Song of the Year and Grammy Award for Best Country Song for Nelson's version. The United Kingdom's Pet Shop Boys released a successfully charting version of "Always On My Mind" in 1987 which reached #1 in the U.K. and #4 in the United States.
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