Rags to Riches (song)
"Rags to Riches" is a 1953 popular
Popular music
Popular music belongs to any of a number of musical genres "having wide appeal" and is typically distributed to large audiences through the music industry. It stands in contrast to both art music and traditional music, which are typically disseminated academically or orally to smaller, local...

In music, a song is a composition for voice or voices, performed by singing.A song may be accompanied by musical instruments, or it may be unaccompanied, as in the case of a cappella songs...

 by Richard Adler
Richard Adler
Richard Adler is an American lyricist, composer and producer of several Broadway shows.-Biography:Born in New York City, Adler had a musical upbringing, his father being a concert pianist. After serving in the Navy he began his career as a lyricist, teaming up with Jerry Ross in 1950...

 and Jerry Ross
Jerry Ross (composer)
Jerry Ross was an American lyricist and composer whose works with Richard Adler for the musical theater include The Pajama Game and Damn Yankees, winners of Tony Awards in 1955 and 1956 respectively in both the "Best Musical" and "Best Composer and Lyricist" categories.-Biography:Ross was born...

. The best-known version of the song was recorded by Tony Bennett
Tony Bennett
Tony Bennett is an American singer of popular music, standards, show tunes, and jazz....

 and reached number one on the Billboard chart in 1953
1953 in music
-Events:*February 6 – Contralto Kathleen Ferrier, already terminally ill with cancer, leaves Covent Garden Opera House on a stretcher after being taken ill on the second night of her run in Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice....

. In the same year, a version by David Whitfield
David Whitfield
David Whitfield was a popular British male tenor vocalist. This operatic-style tenor had a formidable and predominantly female fan base in the 1950s.-Life and career:...

 reached number three in the British charts. Later recordings by Sunny and the Sunliners (#45 in 1963
1963 in music
-Events:*January 1 – The Beatles start a 5-day tour in Scotland to support the release of their new single, "Love Me Do".*January 4 – At Cortina d'Ampezzo in Italy, Dalida receives a Juke Box Global Oscar for the year's most-played artist on juke boxes....

) and Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley
Elvis Aaron Presley was one of the most popular American singers of the 20th century. A cultural icon, he is widely known by the single name Elvis. He is often referred to as the "King of Rock and Roll" or simply "the King"....

 (#33 in 1971
1971 in music
-Events:*February 1 – after months of feuding in the press, Ginger Baker and Elvin Jones hold a "drum battle" at The Lyceum.*February 8 – Bob Dylan's hour-long documentary film, Eat the Document, is premièred at New York's Academy of Music...

) also made the Billboard charts.

A recording by Lee Howard
Lee Howard
Lee Vincent Howard was a pitcher in Major League Baseball. He played for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1946 and 1947.-External links:...

 with orchestra cond. by Frank Cordell was made in London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 on November 14, 1953. It was released by EMI
The EMI Group, also known as EMI Music or simply EMI, is a multinational music company headquartered in London, United Kingdom. It is the fourth-largest business group and family of record labels in the recording industry and one of the "big four" record companies. EMI Group also has a major...

 on the His Master's Voice label as catalog number B 10610.

The song was used at the beginning of the film Goodfellas
Goodfellas is a 1990 American crime film directed by Martin Scorsese. It is a film adaptation of the 1986 non-fiction book Wiseguy by Nicholas Pileggi, who co-wrote the screenplay with Scorsese...

where Henry Hill just closes the trunk of the car and says, "As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster."

"Rags to Riches" provided the basis for an unusual moment late in Elvis Presley's career. Near the end of a New Year's Eve concert on December 31, 1976/January 1, 1977, Elvis announced he would sing the song -- which his band evidently hadn't rehearsed and didn't know. Playing piano, and giving chord instructions to his surprised band members, Elvis delivered a passionate rendition, climaxing with a series of near-operatic high notes before the last word "you." The effort earned a loud ovation from the audience in Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Pittsburgh is the second-largest city in the US Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the county seat of Allegheny County. Regionally, it anchors the largest urban area of Appalachia and the Ohio River Valley, and nationally, it is the 22nd-largest urban area in the United States...

's Civic Arena
Mellon Arena
Civic Arena is an indoor arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania that is currently undergoing demolition. It was the first retractable roof major sports venue in the world, covering 170,000 sq. feet and constructed with just shy of 3,000 tons of Pittsburgh steel...

. However, the moment would never be repeated; this was the only time Elvis sang the song in live performance. The moment was captured on a recording by an audience member that was later bootlegged.

See also

  • List of number-one singles of 1953 (U.S.)
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