I Put a Spell on You

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"I Put a Spell on You"
I Put a Spell on You by Screamin' Jay Hawkins US vinyl.jpg
A-side label of the 1956 U.S. 7-inch vinyl single
Single by Screamin' Jay Hawkins
from the album At Home with Screamin' Jay Hawkins
B-side "Little Demon"
Released November 1956 (1956-11)
Format Seven-inch 45 rpm record
Genre
Length 2:25
Label Okeh
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s) Arnold Maxin
Screamin' Jay Hawkins singles chronology
"Even Though"
(1956)
"I Put a Spell on You"
(1956)
"You Made Me Love You"
(1957)

"I Put a Spell on You" is a 1956 song written and composed by Jalacy "Screamin' Jay" Hawkins, whose own recording of it was selected as one of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. It was also ranked No. 313 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. The selection became a classic cult song covered by a variety of artists and was his greatest commercial success, reportedly surpassing a million copies in sales,[3][4] even though it failed to make the Billboard pop or R&B charts.[5][6]

The original composition

Hawkins had originally intended to record "I Put a Spell on You" as "a refined love song, a blues ballad". However, the producer (Arnold Maxin) "brought in ribs and chicken and got everybody drunk, and we came out with this weird version ... I don't even remember making the record. Before, I was just a normal blues singer. I was just Jay Hawkins. It all sort of just fell in place. I found out I could do more destroying a song and screaming it to death."[7]

Hawkins first recorded "I Put a Spell on You" as a ballad during his stint with Grand Records in late 1955. However, that version was not released at the time (it has since been reissued on Hawkins' UK Rev-Ola CD The Whamee 1953–55). The following year, Hawkins re-recorded the song for Columbia's Okeh Records – the notorious screaming version, which was released in October 1956. However, this version was banned from most radio programming for its outrageous 'cannibalistic' style. A truncated version was later released omitting the grunts and moans from the ending of the song, but the ban generally remained.[8] Despite the ban, the record still sold over a million copies.[9]

The hit brought Hawkins together with Cleveland disc jockey Alan Freed who promptly added him to his "Rock and Roll Revue." Up to this time, Hawkins had been a blues performer: emotional, but not wild. Freed suggested a gimmick to capitalize on the "demented" sound of "I Put a Spell on You:" Hawkins wore a long cape, and appeared onstage by rising out of a coffin in the midst of smoke and fog.[10] The act was a sensation, later bolstered by tusks worn in Hawkins' nose, on-stage snakes and fireworks, and a cigarette-smoking skull named "Henry."

This theatrical act was one of the first shock rock performances.[11]

Personnel

Covers and samples

"I Put a Spell on You" has been covered by other artists extensively; there are several hundred versions available on online stores like iTunes. Most of the covers treat the song seriously; few attempt to duplicate Hawkins' bravura performance. Although Hawkins' own version never charted, several later cover versions have.

Other versions of note:

See also

References

  1. ^ Bush, John. Screamin' Jay Hawkins - I Put a Spell on You at AllMusic. Retrieved 7 November 2015.
  2. ^ Mike McPadden (1 May 2012). If You Like Metallica ... : Here Are Over 200 Bands, CDs, Movies, and Other Oddities That You Will Love. Backbeat Books. p. 37. ISBN 978-1-4768-1357-8. Retrieved 7 November 2015.
  3. ^ Edward M. Komara (2006). Encyclopedia of the Blues: A-J. Routledge. p. 415. Retrieved 2008-12-04.
  4. ^ Ed Sikov (1996). Laughing Hysterically: American Screen Comedy of the 1950s. Columbia University Press. p. 17. Retrieved 2008-12-04.
  5. ^ a b Whitburn, Joel (2003). Top Pop Singles 1955–2002 (1st ed.). Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. ISBN 0-89820-155-1.
  6. ^ a b Whitburn, Joel (1996). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942–2004. Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research. ISBN 0-89820-115-2.
  7. ^ Julia Rubiner, Contemporary Musicians: Profiles of the People in Music, Volume 8, Gale, 1992, p.117
  8. ^ Dimery, Robert, ed. (2013). 1001 songs you must hear before you die (Rev. and updated edition ed.). London. p. 81. ISBN 9781844037360. OCLC 855705641.
  9. ^ Colin Larkin (2011), The Encyclopedia of Popular Music, Omnibus Press, p. 2680, ISBN 978-0-85712-595-8
  10. ^ Chris Morris (Feb 26, 2000), "Legendary Screamin' Jay Hawkins Dies At 70", Billboard
  11. ^ Gillespie, Paula, and Neal Lerner. The Allyn and Bacon Guide to Peer Tutoring. Boston: Allyn, 2000. Print.
  12. ^ "Screamin' Jay Hawkins - I Put A Spell On You The Singles 1954 - 1957". Discogs.
  13. ^ Brown, Tony, Jon Kutner & Neil Warwick, The Complete Book of the British Charts: Singles and Albums, Omnibus Press, London, 2002 p. 911
  14. ^ Brown, Tony, Jon Kutner & Neil Warwick, The Complete Book of the British Charts: Singles and Albums, Omnibus Press, London, 2002 p. 795
  15. ^ "Creedence Clearwater Revival Setlist at Woodstock". setlist.fm.
  16. ^ Brown, Tony, Jon Kutner & Neil Warwick, The Complete Book of the British Charts: Singles and Albums, Omnibus Press, London, 2002 p. 371
  17. ^ Betts, Graham (2004). Complete UK Hit Singles 1952–2004 (1st ed.). London: Collins. ISBN 0-00-717931-6.
  18. ^ "Nominees And Winners – GRAMMY.com". National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.
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