Suspicious Minds songwriter Mark James dead at 83

Grammy-winning songwriter Mark James, the man behind some of behind Elvis Presley's biggest hits, passed away this month.



Mark James penned many popular tunes and was a Grammy winner
Mark James penned many popular tunes and was a Grammy winner

Songwriter Mark James, who penned Elvis Presley’s 'Suspicious Minds' and co-wrote 'Always on My Mind', has died aged 83.

The Grammy winner - who was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2014 - passed away in Nashville on June 8, according to the Houston Chronicle.

His family said: “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.

“He was a captivating storyteller who had the sweetest smile, the most infectious laugh and a twinkle in his eye that never dimmed."

Best known for penning 'Suspicious Minds', Mark actually released the song in 1968 in a bid to launch his own music career, but it wasn't a hit until the late King of Rock and Roll sent it rising to the top of the charts.

Sharing the inspiring behind the emotional lyrics, Mark told the Wall Street Journal in 2012: “Late one night, fooling around on my Fender guitar and using my Hammond organ pedals for a bass line, I came up with a catchy melody. I was married to my first wife then but still had feelings for my childhood sweetheart, who was married back in Houston.

“My wife suspected I had those feelings, so it was a confusing time for me. I felt as though all three of us were all caught in this trap that we couldn’t walk out of.”

It marked Elvis' 18th and final no. 1 single on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. In 1999, the 1969 recording by Elvis on RCA Victor Records was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

According to Mark, the 'Hound Dog' hitmaker was always asking after him to pen more tunes.

He recalled: “In the years that followed, whenever I saw Elvis, he’d cross the room just to say hello to me – no matter who was with him. After he died, I heard he’d always asked the guys in the studio, ‘Did Mark send me any more songs?’ Golly, I wish I had known that."

Mark was born Francis Zambon – but changed his name after being told it wouldn't get him far in the music business.

He also penned 'The Eyes Of A New York Woman' and 'Hooked On A Feeling' for BJ Thomas’ album 'On My Way', the late singer best known for the classic tune 'Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head'.