It's Now or Never (song)

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"It's Now or Never"
Elvis Its Now or Never US Picture Sleeve.jpg
Original 45 picture sleeve
Single by Elvis Presley
B-side"A Mess of Blues"
"Make Me Know It" (UK)
ReleasedJuly 5, 1960
RecordedApril 3, 1960
StudioRCA Victor (Nashville)
LabelRCA Victor
Elvis Presley singles chronology
"Stuck on You" / "Fame and Fortune"
"It's Now or Never"
"Are You Lonesome Tonight"
Elvis Presley UK singles chronology
"A Mess of Blues"
"It's Now or Never"
"Are You Lonesome Tonight"
Music video
"It's Now or Never" (audio) on YouTube

"It's Now or Never" is a song recorded by Elvis Presley and released as a single in 1960.

The song is one of the best-selling singles by Presley (20 million copies), and one of the best-selling physical singles of all time.[1][2] It was recorded by Bill Porter at RCA Studio B in Nashville.[3] It is written in E major and has a tempo of 80 BPM.[4]

In 1960, "It's Now or Never" was a number-one record in the U.S. for Elvis Presley, spending five weeks at number one and the UK, where it spent eight weeks at the top in 1960 and an additional week at number one in 2005 as a re-issue, and numerous other countries, selling in excess of 20 million physical copies worldwide, Elvis Presley's biggest international single ever. Its British release was delayed for some time because of rights issues, allowing the song to build up massive advance orders and to enter the UK Singles Chart at number one, a very rare occurrence at the time. "It's Now or Never" peaked at number seven on the R&B charts.[5]


"It's Now or Never" is one of two popular songs based on the Italian song of the Neapolitan language, "'O Sole mio" (music by Eduardo di Capua); the other being "There's No Tomorrow", recorded by U.S. singer Tony Martin in 1949, which inspired Presley's version. The lyrics were written by Aaron Schroeder and Wally Gold. The song was published by Elvis Presley's company Gladys Music, Inc.

In the late 1950s, while stationed in Germany with the U.S. Army, Presley heard Martin's recording. It is also likely that he was inspired to record this because of his fondness for Mario Lanza who had first popularized "'O Sole Mio" to American audiences and who had died the year before "It's Now or Never" was recorded.[6] According to The New York Times, quoting from the 1986 book Behind the Hits, "he told the idea to his music publisher, Freddy Bienstock, who was visiting him in Germany... Mr. Bienstock, who many times found songwriters for Presley, returned to his New York office, where he found songwriters, Mr. [Aaron] Schroeder and Wally Gold, the only people in that day. The two wrote lyrics in half an hour. Selling more than 5 million records, the song became number one in countries all around and was Presley's best selling single ever... a song [they] finished in 20 minutes to a half hour was the biggest song of [their] career."[7]

Barry White credited this song as his inspiration for changing his life and becoming a singer following his release from prison.[8]

In the promotional video for the Beatles' 1968 single "Hey Jude," the members of the band jokingly perform a few lines of the song.


A live version featuring "'O Sole mio" is available on the 1977 live album Elvis in Concert. "'O Sole mio" is sung by tenor Sherrill Nielson.

In early 2005, the song was re-released along with the other Presley singles in the UK, and again reached number one on the UK Singles Chart for the week of 5 February 2005. The re-release held the record for the lowest selling number-one single in UK chart history until Orson's "No Tomorrow" in 2006.[9] The song also appears in the TV mini-series Elvis.

Chart performance[edit]

United States[edit]

"It's Now or Never" entered the US Billboard Hot 100 at No. 44 on July 18, 1960. After climbing to No. 14 and then a two-week stay at No. 3, the song climbed to No. 1 for a five-week stay, beginning August 15. In that same week, the B-side to the single, "A Mess of Blues" - peaked at No. 32 independently. During its run at the top of the US charts, "It's Now or Never" kept "Walk, Don't Run" by The Ventures at No. 2 before succumbing to "The Twist" by Chubby Checker on September 19. Presley fell to No. 3, spending a further seven weeks inside the top 40 before dropping out on November 14 (the same week that his follow-up, "Are You Lonesome Tonight?", debuted on the chart). As an A-side, Presley's former bass player's group Bill Black Combo charted with their version of "Don't Be Cruel" around the same time.

United Kingdom[edit]

In the UK, the single gained an eventual release in late October 1960, following copyright discussions. It became the first song to enter the new Record Retailer charts at No. 1 - later adopted as the UK Singles Chart. During an eight-week run at the top, Presley was held off strong competition from Shirley Bassey ("As Long As He Needs Me") and The Drifters ("Save the Last Dance for Me") before claiming the coveted Christmas number one for 1960. A week later, he was deposed by Cliff Richard and the Shadows' "I Love You". Presley dropped to No. 2 and would leave the top 10 as "Are You Lonesome Tonight?" began its ascent to No. 1. After 18 weeks, "It's Now or Never" left the UK top 40 on 15 March 1961. Due to the single's delayed UK release, "A Mess of Blues" had already attained A-side status and peaked at No. 2 on 21 September 1960.

"It's Now or Never" would be one of several songs to return to the UK top 40 in the wake of Presley's death, reaching No. 39 on 3 August 1977.

On 5 February 2005, the song returned to the top of the UK charts for one more week as part of a week-by-week reissue series of his former chart-toppers. This gave Presley his 21st UK number one single, his fourth of the new millennium. Overall, "It's Now or Never" has managed 22 weeks in the UK top 40.

Charts and certifications[edit]

John Schneider version[edit]

"It's Now or Never"
It's Now or Never - John Schneider.jpg
Single by John Schneider
from the album It's Now or Never
ReleasedMay 1981
LabelScotti Brothers
John Schneider singles chronology
"It's Now or Never"
"Them Good Ol' Boys Are Bad"

American country music singer and actor John Schneider released in 1981 a cover of the song as his first single and the title track of his debut album It's Now or Never. Schneider's version was a top five hit on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart and peaked at No. 14 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1981) Peak
Canadian RPM Country Tracks 7
Canadian RPM Adult Contemporary Tracks 5
New Zealand (RIANZ)[38] 49
U.S. Billboard Hot 100[39] 14
U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles[40] 4
U.S. Billboard Adult Contemporary[41] 5
Year-end chart (1981) Rank
US Top Pop Singles (Billboard)[42] 82

Uses in popular culture[edit]

An instrumental version is used in a scene from Masahiro Shinoda's 1964 film Pale Flower.

Presley's version appears in a 2017 TV commercial for Jose Cuervo.

At the 20th anniversary concert of the Suntory Hall in Japan in 2006, Italian tenors Vincenzo La Scola and Giuseppe Sabbatini and American tenor Neil Shicoff sang a bilingual version of the song together. For their respective solo parts, the two Italians sang the original Neapolitan lyrics, while Shicoff sang two segments of "It's now or never"; and all three joined for the final chorus with the Neapolitan lyrics.[43]

Josh Groban covered the song for his 2020 album Harmony.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Collins, Ace (2005). Untold Gold: The Stories Behind Elvis's #1 Hits. Chicago Review Press. pp. 155–162. ISBN 9781569765074.
  2. ^ Untold Gold: The Stories Behind Elvis's #1 Hits. Chicago Review Press. April 2005. ISBN 9781569765074.
  3. ^ "Dub Steps: How Elvis Recorded "It's Now Or Never" – RCA Studio B". Retrieved 22 April 2021.
  4. ^ "Key and BPM/Tempo of It's Now or Never by Elvis Presley". NoteDiscover. Retrieved 28 May 2019.
  5. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 468.
  6. ^ Patterson, Nigel (December 1998). "Influences on a Legend 8: Mario Lanza". Elvis Monthly (468): 5–8.
  7. ^ Martin, Douglas (December 6, 2009). "Aaron Schroeder, Writer of Hit Songs for Elvis Presley, Dies at 83". The New York Times.
  8. ^ Barry White with Marc Eliot, Love Unlimited, New York: Broadway Books, 1999, p. 22.
  9. ^ O'Brien, Jon (17 March 2016). "15 songs from the 00s you probably forgot made number one". Metro. Retrieved 2 July 2017.
  10. ^ Kent, David (2005). Australian Chart Book: 1940–1969: the Hit Songs and Records from Thirty Years of Specially Compiled Charts. Australian Chart Book Limited. ISBN 9780646444390. Retrieved 2013-03-04.
  11. ^ "CHUM Hit Parade – Monday, July 18, 1960". 1050 CHUM. August 22, 1960.
  12. ^ "Elvis Presley – It's Now or Never" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved March 4, 2013.
  13. ^ "Elvis Presley - It's Now or Never". Media Control. Retrieved March 4, 2013.[dead link]
  14. ^ "Irish Top Ten 1959–1962". Retrieved 22 April 2021.
  15. ^ a b "Elvis Presley – It's Now or Never" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved March 4, 2013.
  16. ^ "Lever Hit Parades". Flavour of New Zealand. Retrieved 22 April 2021.
  17. ^ "Elvis Presley – It's Now or Never". VG-lista. Retrieved March 4, 2013.
  18. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved March 4, 2013.
  19. ^ "Elvis Presley Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved March 4, 2013.
  20. ^ "Elvis Presley – Awards". Allmusic. Retrieved March 4, 2013.
  21. ^ Joel Whitburn's top pop singles 1955–2006. Record Research. 2008-01-08. ISBN 9780898201727. Retrieved March 3, 2013.
  22. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved March 4, 2013.
  23. ^ "Elvis Presley – It's Now or Never" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
  24. ^ "Chart Track: Week 4, 2005". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved March 4, 2013.
  25. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved July 8, 2018.
  26. ^ "Elvis Presley – It's Now or Never". Singles Top 100. Retrieved March 4, 2013.
  27. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved March 4, 2013.
  28. ^ "SA Charts 1965–March 1989". Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  29. ^ "Billboard Top 50 - 1956". Billboard. Longbored Surfer. 1956. Archived from the original on 2013-01-28. Retrieved 2013-03-04.
  30. ^ "The Cash Box Year-End Charts: 1960". Cash Box Magazine. 1960. Archived from the original on 2012-10-05. Retrieved 2013-03-04.
  31. ^ "The Official UK Singles Chart 2005" (PDF). UKChartsPlus. Retrieved 8 July 2018.
  32. ^ "Billboard Hot 100 60th Anniversary Interactive Chart". Billboard. Retrieved 10 December 2018.
  33. ^ "The UK's biggest selling singles of all time". Official Charts Company. Archived from the original on 24 June 2018. Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  34. ^ a b c Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2, illustrated ed.). Barrie & Jenkins. ISBN 0-214-20480-4. eduardo di.
  35. ^ Copsey, Rob (August 17, 2017). "Elvis Presley's Top 50 biggest selling songs revealed". Official Charts Company. Retrieved August 16, 2017.
  36. ^ "British single certifications – Elvis Presley – It's Now or Never". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved August 6, 2021.
  37. ^ "American single certifications – Elvis Presley – It's Now or Never". Recording Industry Association of America.
  38. ^ "The Official New Zealand Music Chart". Retrieved 22 April 2021.
  39. ^ Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955–1990 ISBN 0-89820-089-X
  40. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book Of Top 40 Country Hits: 1944–2006, Second edition. Record Research. p. 305.
  41. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1993). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961–1993. Record Research. p. 213.
  42. ^ "Number One Awards – Billboard's 1981 Year-End Charts : Pop Singles". Billboard. Vol. 93, no. 51. December 26, 1981. p. YE-9. Retrieved 5 April 2020.
  43. ^ "Vincenzo La Scola , Giuseppe Sabbatini & Neil Shicoff - O sole mio オー・ソレ・ミオ". YouTube. Archived from the original on 2021-12-21. Retrieved 22 April 2021.

External links[edit]