Turn On Your Love Light

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"Turn On Your Love Light"
Single by Bobby Bland
B-side "You're The One (That I Need)"
Released 1961 (1961)
Format 7" 45 rpm record
Recorded Houston, Texas
Genre Blues
Length 2:30
Label Duke (344)
Writer(s) Joseph Wade Scott, Deadric Malone aka Don Robey
Bobby Bland singles chronology
"Don't Cry No More"
"Turn On Your Love Light"
"Ain't That Loving You"

"Turn On Your Love Light" is an R&B song recorded by Bobby Bland in 1961. It was both an important R&B and pop chart hit for Bland and has become one of his most identifiable songs. A variety of artists have recorded it, including the Grateful Dead, who made it part of their concert repertoire.

Original song[edit]

"Turn On Your Love Light" was written by band leader and arranger Joe Scott (with an additional credit given to Duke Records owner/producer Don Robey aka Deadric Malone). Scott's brass arrangement "upped the excitement ante"[1] with "the groove picking up momentum as the horns and percussion talk to each other" and Bland's vocal "riding on top".[2] Backing Bland are probably Joe Scott and Melvin Jackson (trumpets), Pluma Davis (trombone), Johnny Board and Jimmy Beck (saxophones), Rayfield Davers (baritone saxophone), Teddy Reynolds (piano), Wayne Bennett (guitar), Hamp Simmons (bass), and John "Jabo" Starks (drums).[2]

"Turn On Your Love Light" was one of Bobby Bland's most popular singles. It entered the Billboard R&B chart on December 4, 1961, eventually reaching #2 during a stay of fifteen weeks.[3] It was also a Top 40 hit, reaching #28, one of Bland's highest showings in the pop chart.[3]

Later renditions[edit]

In 1964, Van Morrison's band Them often performed "Turn On Your Love Light" live at the Maritime Hotel in Belfast, Northern Ireland. A fan's recording of one of these performances brought Them to the attention of Dick Rowe and led to a recording contract with Decca Records. It is included on their 1966 album, Them Again.

In 1966, "Turn On Your Love Light" became a staple of Grateful Dead concerts, sung by Ron McKernan: a 15-minute rendition is on their 1969 double live album Live/Dead. McKernan's final performance of "Lovelight" – complete with extended vocal raps – occurred at the Lyceum Theatre, London, during the Europe '72 tour. Versions with McKernan were often very long due to long vocal raps, instrumental jams, and drum solos throughout. A version performed at the 1969 Woodstock Festival lasted more than 45 minutes.[4] The Grateful Dead later revived the song in the early 1980s with Bob Weir singing. A shorter version (612 minutes long) can be found on pre-2004 releases of the compilation album, Skeletons from the Closet: The Best of Grateful Dead.

In 1966, the song (titled as "Love Lights," and incorrectly credited to the Sonics' bandleader Gerry Roslie) was recorded by the Rascals, appearing as part of a medley with the Motown tune "Mickey's Monkey" on the album Collections. In 1967, the song was released as a single by Jerry Lee Lewis and included on his album Soul My Way (Smash SRS 67097). Lewis's recording was re-released in 1972 as a follow up to his hit recording of "Chantilly Lace" and appeared briefly in the lower reaches of the Billboard Hot 100. It was also included on the 1972 album The 'Killer' Rocks On. In 1968, The Human Beinz released their version on Capitol Records that became a #1 chart hit in Japan.[5] Before joining Grand Funk Railroad, Mark Farner and Don Brewer covered this song as "Love Lights" and is included on Monumental Funk. In 1972, Edgar Winter's White Trash recorded the song for the live album Roadwork. Also in 1972, the song was recorded by Bob Seger on the album Smokin' O.P.'s. More recently, a version of the song performed by the Blues Brothers appeared in the 1998 film Blues Brothers 2000. John Boutté adapted the song with different lyrics as "Treme Song" and appears on his 2003 album Jambalaya. It was later used as the theme song for Treme, a 2010–2013 HBO television drama series. Tom Jones performed it on the This Is Tom Jones TV Series (18 April 1969)

In 1968, Bill Black's Combo recorded the song and was included in the album by the same name. It peaked at #82 on the pop charts both in US and Canada, making it the group's last pop chart entry.


In 1999, the song received a Grammy Hall of Fame Award[6] and is included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame list of the "500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll".[7]


  1. ^ Dahl, Bill. "Bobby "Blue" Bland — Biography". Allmusic. Rovi Corp. Retrieved March 18, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b Morthland, John (1992). The Best of Duke-Peacock Blues (Liner notes). Various. MCA Records. pp. 12, 15. MCAD-10667. 
  3. ^ a b Whitburn, Joel (1988). Top R&B Singles 1942–1988. Record Research, Inc. p. 45. ISBN 0-89820-068-7. 
  4. ^ This is included among the "Special Features" on Disc 3 of the 40th Anniversary (2009) DVD of the film Woodstock (1970).
  5. ^ Human Beinz at Rock Con [1]
  6. ^ "Grammy Hall of Fame Awards". Grammy Awards. The Recording Academy. 1999. Retrieved March 18, 2011. 
  7. ^ "500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll". Exhibit Highlights. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. 1995. Archived from the original on 2007. Retrieved March 18, 2011.