Mark James (songwriter)

Mark James
Birth name Francis Rodney Zambon
Also known as Francis Zambo
Born 1940 (age 7576)
Houston, Texas
Occupation(s) Singer, songwriter, producer
Instruments Vocals
Years active 1968 - present
Labels Bell, Scepter, Liberty, Masterfonics
Associated acts Elvis Presley
Notable instruments

Mark James (born Francis Rodney Zambon,[1] 1940) is an American songwriter who wrote hits for singers B.J. Thomas, Brenda Lee, and Elvis Presley, most notably Presley's last U.S. number one hit single, "Suspicious Minds."[2]

Early life

Mark James was born in Houston, Texas,[2] in 1940. James befriended B.J. Thomas while both were still young.[3]


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,[3] 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).[4]

James released his own version of "Suspicious Minds," also produced by Moman, on Scepter Records in 1968, which recording, with more-or-less the same arrangement, eventually became a smash for Elvis Presley in the following year.[5] 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 and Mark James Trio

Mark James Trio Released the album "She's Gone Away" 1978 Crazy Cajun Records with fellow band members Joey Longoria and Bobby Winder.

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.[6] 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. On October 11, 2015 in Nashville Tennessee, James entered the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame along with Rosanne Cash, Even Stevens, and several others.


Grammy Awards

Year Nominee/work Award Result
1983 "Always on My Mind" Grammy Award for Song of the Year Won
1983 "Always on My Mind" Grammy Award for Best Country Song Won


  1. Joe Edwards (September 22, 1985). "Nashville Sound: Encouraging Word Spurred Career". The Victoria Advocate. Retrieved September 7, 2012.
  2. 1 2 Jones, Roben (2010-02-01). Memphis Boys: the story of American Studios. Univ. Press of Mississippi. p. 19. ISBN 978-1-60473-401-0. Retrieved 22 November 2010.
  3. 1 2 Klein, George; Crisafulli, Chuck (2010-01-05). Elvis: My Best Man: Radio Days, Rock 'n' Roll Nights, and My Lifelong Friendship with Elvis Presley. Crown. p. 194. ISBN 978-0-307-45274-0. Retrieved 22 November 2010.
  4. Collins, Ace (2005-04-01). Untold Gold: The Stories Behind Elvis's #1 Hits. Chicago Review Press. p. 213. ISBN 978-1-55652-565-0. Retrieved 22 November 2010.
  5. Creswell, Toby (August 2006). 1001 Songs: The Great Songs of All Time and the Artists, Stories and Secrets Behind Them. Da Capo Press. p. 53. ISBN 978-1-56025-915-2. Retrieved 22 November 2010.
  6. "Country". Billboard. 94 (52): 56. 23 October 1982. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved 22 November 2010.

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