Cathy's Clown

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"Cathy's Clown"
Single by The Everly Brothers
from the album A Date with the Everly Brothers
B-side"Always It's You"
ReleasedApril 1960
RecordedMarch 18, 1960
LabelWarner Bros.
Songwriter(s)Don Everly
Producer(s)Wesley Rose
The Everly Brothers singles chronology
"Let It Be Me"
"Cathy's Clown"
"When Will I Be Loved"

"Cathy's Clown" is a popular song, written by Don Everly and recorded by The Everly Brothers in 1960. The lyrics describe a man who has been wronged and publicly humiliated by his lover: "Here he comes / That's Cathy's clown". The choruses are sung by brothers Don and Phil in their trademark close harmony style, while Don sings the bridges solo.

"Cathy's Clown" is noted for its unorthodox structure, such as beginning on a chorus and having bridges but no verses. The song was a worldwide success and the best-selling single of the Everly Brothers career. Because of its enduring influence on popular music the song was added to the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress in 2013.[2]


The musicians included the Everlys on guitars, Floyd Cramer on piano, Floyd Chance on bass and Buddy Harman on drums. The distinctive drum sound was achieved by recording them with a tape loop, making it sound as if there were two drummers.[3] "Cathy's Clown" was recorded live in a single take, with Don and Phil sharing a microphone.[2]


Cashbox advertisement, April 9 1960

"Cathy's Clown" was The Everly Brothers' first single for Warner Bros., after they had recorded for Archie Bleyer's Cadence label for three years. It sold eight million copies worldwide, spending five weeks at number 1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart and one week on the R&B chart.[4] The song spent seven weeks at number 1 on the UK Singles Chart in May and June 1960,[5] and was the Everly Brothers' biggest-selling single and their third and final U.S. number 1 hit. Billboard ranked it as the number 3 song of the year for 1960.[6]

In 2004, it was ranked 149th on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

In November 2018, a judge ruled that Don was the sole writer of "Cathy's Clown", as Phil had relinquished his rights sometime before June 1980. Acuff-Rose Music, which owned the song publishing, and BMI (the brothers' rights society) removed Phil's name from all the royalty statements. In 2011, Don filed to regain ownership, with the estate of Phil following in 2014.[7]


"Cathy's Clown" was inspired by Ferde Grofé's Grand Canyon Suite.[8] It was a major influence on the Beatles, who — having "once toyed with calling themselves The Foreverly Brothers" — three years later copied the Everly's harmonies on their first U.K. No. 1 hit single, "Please Please Me".[8][9]

"Cathy's Clown" is mentioned in the opening line of Elliott Smith's song "Waltz 2 (XO)", the title track of his 1998 album XO.[10]

Jan and Dean recorded a cover of "Cathy's Clown" for their album Filet of Soul, but Liberty Records rejected both track listings that included the song. Liberty later selected its own track listing, which did not include "Cathy's Clown", and released it shortly after Jan Berry's crash near Deadman's Curve. Jan & Dean's cover of "Cathy's Clown" is available on the "Filet Of Soul Redux: The Rejected Master Recordings" release.

Chart history[edit]

Reba McEntire version[edit]

"Cathy's Clown"
Single by Reba McEntire
from the album Sweet Sixteen
ReleasedApril 1989
Songwriter(s)Don Everly
Producer(s)Jimmy Bowen, Reba McEntire
Reba McEntire singles chronology
"New Fool at an Old Game"
"Cathy's Clown"
"'Til Love Comes Again"

The song was recorded by American country music artist Reba McEntire in April 1989 as the first single from her album Sweet Sixteen. The song reached #1 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart.

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (1989) Peak
Canada Country Tracks (RPM)[13] 1
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[14] 1

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (1989) Position
Canada Country Tracks (RPM)[15] 11
US Country Songs (Billboard)[16] 15

Other versions[edit]

The song was covered by Bill and Boyd in New Zealand; their version reached number 1 on the Lever Hit Parades chart in that country in July 1960.[17] Another cover, by the English singer Dick Jordon, reached number 5 in New Zealand.[18] A cover of "Cathy's Clown" by Neil Sedaka appears on his 1983 album Come See About Me. Also covered by Phish at their July 2, 2019 show at Saratoga Performing Arts Center as the show opener.[19]


  1. ^ Breihan, Tom (February 23, 2018). "The Number Ones: The Everly Brothers' "Cathy's Clown"". Stereogum. Retrieved June 7, 2023. "Cathy's Clown" was the best-selling single of the duo's career, but it wasn't their greatest. It's a perfectly solid pop song...
  2. ^ a b Daniel J. Levitin (2013) The Everly Brothers - Cathy's Clown. Library of Congress, accessed 12 Jan 2020
  3. ^ "Recording The Everly Brothers' "Cathy's Clown" | Steve Hoffman Music Forums". Retrieved 2016-08-29.
  4. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942–2004. Record Research. p. 194.
  5. ^ Rice, Jo (1982). The Guinness Book of 500 Number One Hits. Enfield, Middlesex: Guinness Superlatives. p. 50. ISBN 0-85112-250-7.
  6. ^ Billboard Year-End Hot 100 singles of 1960
  7. ^ "Everly Brothers at Odds in Case Over Lucrative 'Cathy's Clown' Royalties". Billboard. November 28, 2018.
  8. ^ a b Savage, Mark (4 January 2014). "The Everly Brothers: 'That Sibling Sound'". BBC News. Retrieved 2014-01-06.
  9. ^ MacDonald, Ian (2005). Revolution in the Head: The Beatles' Records and the Sixties (2nd rev. ed.). London: Pimlico (Rand). p. 62. ISBN 1-84413-828-3.
  10. ^ "Elliott Smith "Waltz 2 (XO)" lyrics". Retrieved 2014-01-06.
  11. ^ "The Everly Brothers Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  12. ^ "Billboard Hot 100 60th Anniversary Interactive Chart". Billboard. Retrieved 10 December 2018.
  13. ^ "Top RPM Country Tracks: Issue 6409." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. July 31, 1989. Retrieved August 28, 2013.
  14. ^ "Reba McEntire Chart History (Hot Country Songs)". Billboard.
  15. ^ "RPM Top 100 Country Tracks of 1989". RPM. December 23, 1989. Retrieved August 28, 2013.
  16. ^ "Best of 1989: Country Songs". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. 1989. Retrieved August 28, 2013.
  17. ^ "Lever hit parades: 21-Jul-1960". Flavour of New Zealand.
  18. ^ "Lever hit parades: 11-Aug-1960". Flavour of New Zealand.
  19. ^ "Phish July 02 2019".