Never Can Say Goodbye

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"Never Can Say Goodbye"
Single by Jackson 5
from the album Maybe Tomorrow
Released March 16, 1971 (U.S.)
Format Vinyl record (7" 45 RPM)
Recorded June 1970
Hitsville West, Los Angeles, CA
Genre Soul
Length 2:58
Label Motown
Writer(s) Clifton Davis
Producer(s) Hal Davis
Jackson 5 singles chronology
"Mama's Pearl"
"Never Can Say Goodbye"
"Maybe Tomorrow"

"Never Can Say Goodbye" is a song written by Clifton Davis and originally recorded by The Jackson 5. Released as a single in 1971, it was one of the group's most successful songs. The song has been covered numerous times, most notably in 1974 by disco diva Gloria Gaynor and in 1987 by British pop group The Communards.

The Jackson 5[edit]

The recording features 11-year-old Michael Jackson singing a serious song about a love, with accompaniment from his brothers. Although such a record was unusual for a teenage group, "Never Can Say Goodbye" was a number-two hit on the Billboard Pop Singles chart and a number-one hit on the Billboard Black Singles chart in the United States.[1] In the United Kingdom, it reached number thirty-three on the UK Singles Chart. An alternate version (live performance from 1971 with an extra part added to it) appears on the Jackson 5 CD "I Want You Back! Unreleased Masters" released in 2009.

Gloria Gaynor version[edit]

"Never Can Say Goodbye"
Single by Gloria Gaynor
from the album Never Can Say Goodbye
B-side "We Just Can't Make It"
Released November 13, 1974 (U.S.)
Format Vinyl record (7" 45 RPM)
Recorded 1974
Genre Soul, disco
Length 3:00
Label MGM Records
Writer(s) Clifton Davis
Producer(s) Jay Ellis, Meco Monardo, Tony Bongiovi, Harold Wheeler
Gloria Gaynor singles chronology
"Honey Bee"
"Never Can Say Goodbye"
Reach Out, I'll Be There"

A second major version, reimagined as a disco record by Gloria Gaynor in 1974, was a number-nine hit on the U.S. Pop Singles chart and went to number thirty-four on the Soul Singles chart.[2] The Gloria Gaynor version became one of the defining recordings of the disco era. Indeed, in the UK, Gaynor's version peaked at #2 in the chart during January 1975. This version, released on MGM records, was produced by the Disco Corporation of America, a production company newly formed by Meco Monardo and Tony Bongiovi to which Gaynor was signed. Also working on this production were Jay Ellis and Harold Wheeler.[3]

Though perhaps best known for her 1978/1979 hit "I Will Survive", Gaynor's version of "Never Can Say Goodbye" has the distinction of occupying the number-one spot on the very first Dance/Disco chart ever to appear in Billboard magazine. Never Can Say Goodbye was also the title of Gaynor's debut album on which the single appeared.

The Newark, New Jersey, native has re-recorded the song on more than one occasion, in increasingly Hi-NRG tempos, and subsequent remixes have hit the dance charts.

The Communards version[edit]

"Never Can Say Goodbye"
Single by The Communards
from the album Red
B-side "'77, The Great Escape" (7")

"Tomorrow" [Remix] (U.S. 12")

Released 1987 (International release)
Format Vinyl record (7" 45) (12" single) CD Maxi Single
Genre Pop, dance, club
Length 4:30 (7" 45 RPM)
7:50 (12" single)
7:50 and 5:35 (CD Maxi single)
Label London Records (UK) / MCA Records (U.S.) / Metronome (Germany)
Writer(s) Clifton Davis
Producer(s) Stephen Hague
Remix and additional production by Shep Pettibone
The Communards singles chronology
"Never Can Say Goodbye"
"For a Friend"

In 1987, British pop band The Communards had a hit with a pop-dance cover of the Clifton Davis classic, which was featured on their second album, Red.

Their version reached number four in the UK Singles Chart and peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot Dance/Disco chart in the U.S. The group had reached number one on those charts covering another 1970s classic, "Don't Leave Me This Way", in 1986.

The energetic music video of this version is classified as a classic by cable video channel VH1.[citation needed]

The Communards version was also featured in Father's Day, in the first series of the revived Doctor Who, set in 1987, and the final episode of Whites, featuring a dance number [1] by Stephen Wight.

It also features as the theme song to the British comedy series Vicious.

Other covers[edit]

The song was covered by a number of artists, including Isaac Hayes, Grant Green, Andy Williams, Junior Walker, The Supremes (in 1971) ,[4] Smokey Robinson (in 1973) ,[5] Cal Tjader, David T. Walker, The Sandpipers, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Johnny "Hammond" Smith, Herbie Mann, Yazz, Sheena Easton, Vanessa Williams, Gerald Albright, Sonny & Cher, David Benoit, Westlife, The Impact of Brass and Matchstik "The Mj Tribute".

Isaac Hayes recorded the song in 1971 and re-recorded it for the 2008 film Soul Men, in which he appears alongside Samuel L. Jackson and Bernie Mac. The film's producers dedicated the 2008 version to both Mac and Hayes, who both died before the project was released.

In 2008, pianist David Benoit recorded a version for his covers-packed album "Heroes"[6][7] and saxophonist Gerald Albright covered the song on the album "Sax for Stax."[8][9] In 2009, keyboardist Bob Baldwin along with guitarist Chuck Loeb covered the song from Bob's album "Lookin' Back."[10][11]

In 2010, Chinese singer Olivia Ong recorded a bossa nova based cover on her Olivia album.

Guitarist Zachary Breaux covered the song on his 1997 album, Uptown Groove, and the final studio album released before his untimely death the following month.

The Astronomical Kid sampled the song in a performance during The X Factor USA

Dianna Agron covered the song in 2012 on the musical television show Glee.

In popular culture[edit]

The Neptunes remixed Never Can Say Goodbye on the album The Remix Suite (2009).


Never Can Say Goodbye was originally copyrighted on June 10, 1970 [EU0000187089] and then was copyrighted again on December 21, 1970 [EP0000281027]

The Jackson 5[edit]

Gloria Gaynor[edit]


  1. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 287. 
  2. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 226. 
  3. ^ Meco Monardo and the Disco Sound of the 1970s
  4. ^ "Whosampled". 
  5. ^ "Allmusic". 
  6. ^ "Heroes overview". 
  7. ^ "Heroes : David Benoit : Concord Music Group". Concord Music Group. 
  8. ^ "Sax for Stax overview". 
  9. ^ "Gerald Albright - Sax for Stax". 
  10. ^ "Lookin' Back overview". 
  11. ^ "CD Review of Bob Baldwin". 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"What's Going On" by Marvin Gaye
Billboard Best Selling Soul Singles number-one single (The Jackson 5 version)
May 1, 1971 – May 15, 1971
Succeeded by
"Bridge over Troubled Water" by Aretha Franklin
Preceded by
Billboard Hot Dance Club Play number-one single (Gloria Gaynor version)
October 26, 1974 – November 16, 1974
Succeeded by
"Express" by B.T. Express