The song was originally called The Vicious Circle, and Davis had been struggling with it for a few years.
In 1969, when his guitarist friend Freddy Weller played him a few chords he was tinkering with, Davis struck with inspiration. By 2am that night, the complete music and lyrics poured out of him with the new “in the ghetto” hook.
Shortly after the track was rejected by Sammy Davis Jr, Elvis’ team called and asked if he had any more material.
He had already written the song Memories for The King’s US TV comeback special which aired on December 3, 1968.
The same year, Elvis also recorded his track A Little Less Conversation, although that would famously only achieve posthumous worldwide success with the 2002 Junkie XL remix.
The first song on the batch of demos he sent over was In The Ghetto. Incredibly, another future classic, Don’t Cry Daddy, was also on there.