Mark James (songwriter)


Mark James (born Francis Rodney Zambon; November 29, 1940)[1] is an American songwriter who wrote hits for singers B.J. Thomas, Brenda Lee, and Elvis Presley, including Presley's last US number one hit single, "Suspicious Minds."[2]

Mark James
Birth nameFrancis Rodney Zambon
Also known asFrancis Zambon
Born (1940-11-29) November 29, 1940 (age 81)
Houston, Texas, U.S.
Occupation(s)Singer, songwriter, producer
Years active1968—
LabelsBell, Scepter, Liberty, Masterfonics

Early lifeEdit

Mark James was born in Houston, Texas,[2] on November 29, 1940. James befriended B.J. Thomas while both were still young.[3]


1967–1969: Career beginnings and songwritingEdit

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. Using much the same arrangement, Elvis Presley recorded a version in 1969 that became a smash hit and [5] was later listed on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time at 91.

1969–1977: Continued successEdit

In 1972, James signed a long-term contract with Screen Gems-Columbia Music.[6] 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.

Since 1978: Grammy wins, "Always on My Mind" covers and Mark James TrioEdit

Mark James Trio released the album "She's Gone Away" in 1978 on 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.[7] The United Kingdom's Pet Shop Boys released a successfully charting version of "Always on My Mind" in 1987 which reached No. 1 in the UK and No. 4 in the US. On October 11, 2015, James entered the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.


Grammy AwardsEdit

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. ^ Edwards, Joe (September 22, 1985). "Nashville Sound: Encouraging Word Spurred Career". The Victoria Advocate. Retrieved September 7, 2012.
  2. ^ a b Jones, Roben (February 1, 2010). Memphis Boys: the Story of American Studios. Univ. Press of Mississippi. p. 19. ISBN 978-1-60473-401-0. Retrieved November 22, 2010.
  3. ^ a b Klein, George; Crisafulli, Chuck (January 5, 2010). 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 November 22, 2010.
  4. ^ Collins, Ace (April 1, 2005). Untold Gold: The Stories Behind Elvis's #1 Hits. Chicago Review Press. p. 213. ISBN 978-1-55652-565-0. Retrieved November 22, 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 November 22, 2010.
  6. ^ "James Joins SG-Col Music–Tyrell Tie". Billboard. March 4, 1972. p. 8. Retrieved August 13, 2020.
  7. ^ "Country". Billboard. 94 (52): 56. October 23, 1982. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved November 22, 2010.