Friday, May 23, 1997

Puff Daddy released “I’ll Be Missing You,” his memorial to Notorious B.I.G.

I’ll Me Missing You

Puff Daddy with Faith Evans & 112

Writer(s): Sting, Faith Evans, Todd Gaither, Albert E. Brumley (see lyrics here)

Released: May 23, 1997

First Charted: June 14, 1997

Peak: 111 US, 12 GR, 13 RR, 18 RB, 16 UK, 4 CN, 15 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 3.1 US, 2.0 UK, 8.0 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 0.3 radio, 92.5 video, 460.68 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

On March 9, 1997, rapper Christopher Wallace, better known as The Notorious B.I.G., was gunned down. He was only 24 years old. His 1994 album Ready to Die had made him a superstar. His 1997 album Life After Death, released just two weeks after his death, immortalized him.

Devastated over the loss of his best friend, rapper Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs wrote a tribute around samples of The Police’s 1983 #1 hit “Every Breath You Take.” Combs tapped singer Faith Evans, B.I.G.’s widow, to sing the song with him alongside R&B group 112. The song made its chart debut on June 14, 1997. It was huge from the onset. According to the Guinness World Records British Hit Singles, it was the first to debut at #1 in both the United States and England. DR It was only the fifth song in history to debut atop the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. (See full list here).

“I’ll Be Missing You” also claimed the title of biggest selling rap song of all-time. DR Only Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” has logged more time on top (although pop-meets-rap group Black Eyed Peas went to #1 for 12 weeks with “Boom Boom Pow” and “I Got a Feeling” hit the summit for 14 weeks).

1997 was a mixed blessing for Combs. Even as he mourned his friend, he capped one of the most successful years in pop history. His song “Can’t Nobody Hold Me Down” topped the chart for 6 weeks right after B.I.G.’s death. It was replaced by B.I.G.’s “Hypnotize,” a song which Combs helped write and produce, for three weeks. A three-week stint by Hanson’s “Mmmbop” interrupted the Combs/B.I.G. stranglehold briefly – then “I’ll Be Missing You” began its chart run. It was supplanted by “Mo Money Mo Problems,” another B.I.G. hit with Combs featured as a writer and producer. All told, Combs spent 22 weeks on top of the Hot 100 chart in 1997 as a writer, producer, and/or performer.

In April 2023, Combs joked that he had to pay Sting $5000 a day for using the sample of “Every Breath You Take” in “I’ll Be Missing You.” He posted the tweet suggesting the hefty sum after a 2018 interview with Sting resurfaced in which he said the rapper had to pay him 100% of the royalties because he didn’t get permission to sample the song, although he has since secured the rights. BB Had he secured the rights in the first place, he likely would only have to give Sting about 25% of the publishing royalties. CN estimates that “Every Breath You Take” has generated $120 million in royalties for Sting. CN


First posted 6/14/2011; last updated 6/18/2023.

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