Saturday, May 28, 2016

50 years ago: Percy Sledge hit #1 with “When a Man Loves a Woman"

When a Man Loves a Woman

Percy Sledge

Writer(s): Cameron Lewis, Arthur Wright (see lyrics here)

First Charted: April 9, 1966

Peak: 12 US, 12 CB, 12 HR, 14 RB, 2 UK, 11 CN (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 7.0 radio, 121.5 video, 104.91 streaming

Awards for Sledge’s version:

Awards for Bolton’s version:

About the Song:

Sledge called this song “a happy accident.” BR He was touring the South with an R&B group known as the Esquires. RS500 After a break-up, he was too distraught one evening to do the regular setlist. HL He asked bassist Cameron Lewis and organist Andrew Wright to improvise something to which he could sing along. SJ The descending riff created by the pair HL gave Sledge an outlet from which to pour out his soul. HL

Percy later polished up a version which won over Quin Ivy, who was “one of the movers and shakers in the music industry in Alabama.” BR Percy recorded the song at Fame studios under producer Rick Hall, who would put Muscle Shoals, Alabama, on the map, establishing it as the world headquarters for deep soul music. PA Atlantic Records’ Jerry Wexler was sent a copy. He wanted a new recording done at the expense of Atlantic TB because Sledge was off-key and the horn section was out of tune on the original. TB After much time and expense, a new version was created, but a mix-up led to Atlantic releasing the original version instead. TB It didn’t matter – “soulful to the max,” KX the song was a hit in any rendition.

Thanks to its use in a UK TV commercial for Levi’s,” HL the song recharted in England in 1987 at #2, besting its original #4 peak. In 1991, Michael Bolton topped the U.S. pop & AC charts and won a Grammy with his version. When Bolton’s version hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, it marked only the seventh time in chart history that two different recording acts took the same song to the pinnacle.

Although the song has generated millions in royalties, Percy has likely seen very little of it TB having given the writing credit to Lewis & Wright.

Resources and Related Links:

  • DMDB Encyclopedia entry for Percy Sledge
  • DMDB Encyclopedia entry for Michael Bolton
  • BR Fred Bronson (2003). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (5th edition). Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 199.
  • HL Michael Heatley and Spencer Leigh (1998). Behind the Song: The Stories of 100 Great Pop & Rock Classics. London, England: Blandford Books. Page 25.
  • KX KXXO Mixx 96, Olympia, WA. Top 96 Soft Rock Songs of All Time
  • PA Robert Palmer. (1995). Rock & Roll: An Unruly History. Page 92.
  • RS500 Rolling Stone (2011). “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time
  • SJ Bob Shannon and John Javna (1986). Behind the Hits: Inside Stories of Classic Pop and Rock and Roll. New York, NY; Warner Brothers, Inc. Page 182.
  • TB Thunder Bay Press (2006). Singles: Six Decades of Hot Hits & Classic Cuts. Outline Press Ltd.: San Diego, CA. Page 81.

First posted 4/9/2013; updated 4/25/2021.

No comments:

Post a Comment