Chain of Fools

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"Chain of Fools"
Aretha Fra.jpg
Single by Aretha Franklin
from the album Lady Soul
B-side"Prove It"
ReleasedNovember 1967
Length4:03 (Original unreleased recording)
2:47 (Released version)
Songwriter(s)Don Covay
Producer(s)Jerry Wexler[1]
Aretha Franklin singles chronology
"(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman"
"Chain of Fools"
"(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction"

"Chain of Fools" is a song written by Don Covay. Aretha Franklin first released the song as a single in 1967 and subsequently it appeared on many of her albums.


Asked by Jerry Wexler, producer with Atlantic Records, to create songs for Otis Redding, Covay recorded a demo of "Chain of Fools", a song he had written in his youth while singing gospel with his brothers and sisters. The recording featured Covay singing and playing guitar, overdubbed with himself singing background. Listening to the demo, Wexler chose to place the song with Aretha Franklin rather than Redding.[2]


It reached number one on the U.S. R&B chart, staying there for four weeks.[3] "Chain of Fools" also peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100, behind "Judy in Disguise (With Glasses)" by John Fred & His Playboy Band.[4] It won the Grammy Award for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance, and later a Grammy Hall of Fame Award. In 2004, this song was ranked #249 on Rolling Stone's list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.[5] The trademark tremolo guitar licks at the introduction were played by Joe South.[1] The song was edited for LP & 45; the original long version appeared on the quadrophonic LP The Best of Aretha Franklin in 1973 (later released on a quadrophonic DVD by Rhino in 2010), and on the 1995 Rhino remastering of Lady Soul. Live recordings have appeared on the albums Aretha in Paris (1968) and VH1 Divas Live (1998, with Mariah Carey).


Chart positions[edit]

Charts Peak
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 2
U.S. Billboard Hot Rhythm & Blues 1
RPM Magazine (Can.) Top 100 4

Cover versions[edit]

  • In 1969, Finnish jazz singer Carola tried out rhythm & blues, recording a television video of "Chain of Fools". The tongue-in-cheek choreography by Heikki Värtsi included girl group dancing and Carola whipping a man in a cave.[6][7]
  • In 1969 jazz flutist Herbie Mann covered the song on his album Memphis Underground
  • British Heavy Metal band Tank covered the song on their 1984 album Honour & Blood.
  • In 1987, the Bulgarian singer Camellia Todorova, also known as Camy Todorow, did a cover version of the song, included in her eponymous 7" single.
  • In 1989 the Spanish singer Germán Coppini did a cover version of this song called Barbazul for his second solo album, Flechas Negras.
  • Carol Grimes also covered the song on her 1989 album Why Don't They Dance.
  • "Chain of Fools" was one of the soul songs covered by the 1990 Irish film The Commitments. It was sung by The Commitments band's female singers "The Commitmentettes" and features in the movie's self-titled soundtrack album.
  • In 1990 the American hard rock band Little Caesar covered the song on their self-titled debut album.
  • Clint Black with The Pointer Sisters also covered the song on the 1994 album project Rhythm, Country and Blues.
  • A blues boogie version by R. L. Burnside appears on his 2000 album Wish I Was in Heaven Sitting Down.[8]
  • High & Mighty covered the song on their 1999 single.
  • In 2000 Australian rock artist Jimmy Barnes did a cover version of this song for his live album Soul Deeper.
  • In 2001 the American rock band Lit made a cover of the song for their album Atomic, where it is a bonus song.
  • In 2001, Italian group Zu covered the song with Eugene Chadbourne and Roy Paci on the 2001 album Motorhellington.
  • A German version, entitled Schön, Schön, Schön, was published in 2003 by the German soul singer Stefan Gwildis.
  • In the 2003 film School of Rock, the character Tomika (played by Maryam Hassan) performs part of the song as an audition to become a backing singer in the band.
  • Fantasia Barrino performed a cover of the song on American Idol 3 (2004) and later included a studio version in her debut single "I Believe"[9] (but not included in her debut album Free Yourself).
  • Joe Cocker covered the song on his 2004 album Heart & Soul
  • In 2005, cover version "Chain of Fools: Revisited" appeared on the album Timeless Playground by Milto Eph.
  • Brazilian singers Pitty and Negra Li covered the song on 2007 EP Estúdio Coca-Cola - Pitty e Negra Li
  • A version by Eva Cassidy appears on her 2008 album Somewhere.
  • On American Idol season 7 (2008), contestant Syesha Mercado sang this song during Hollywood week.
  • Nicole Scherzinger samples "Chain of Fools" in the New Kids on the Block song "Grown Man", from their 2008 album The Block.
  • 2009 Blues Music Award Nominee Jean Shy and her band The Shy Guys performed, and recorded this song live at an Open Air Concert in Duisburg, Germany. It was released on their CD Unchain My Heart.
  • A cover was made for the 2009 game Karaoke Revolution.
  • In American Idol season 9 (2010), Katie Stevens performed this song during the Top 10 week.
  • Richard Marx covered the song at a concert, which included additional lyrics: "Killing time / At the Bottom Line / Feeling fine / At the Bottom Line."
  • The song is used as "Lei Lei Lei" as the ending theme to Ok, il prezzo è giusto!, the Italian version of The Price Is Right.
  • The song is also one of Gabby Kenny's cover songs.
  • The Chopsticks (a Hong Kong female duo, made up of Sandra Lang (仙杜拉) & Amina (亞美娜)), covered this as a medley song with "Sunny"、"Gimme Little Sign" & "Uptight (Everything's Alright)" on their 1971 LP 《All Of A Sudden》issue.
  • In 1993, the Italian singer, Giorgia, made a live version of this song.
  • In 2012, Christine Anu covered the song on her album, Rewind: The Aretha Franklin Songbook.
  • In 2015 "Chain of Fools" performed by Italian singer Luca Ronka in Soul Man Album[10]
  • The song was covered by John Verity on his 2016 album My Religion

Uses in pop culture[edit]

In 1990, the song was used in the Season Three episode of the TV series Midnight Caller entitled "Ryder on the Storm".


  1. ^ a b c Gilliland, John (1969). "Show 52 - The Soul Reformation: Phase three, soul music at the summit. [Part 8] : UNT Digital Library" (audio). Pop Chronicles. University of North Texas Libraries.
  2. ^ Ed Hogan (1967-06-23). "Chain of Fools - Aretha Franklin | Song Info". AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-09-30.
  3. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 215.
  4. ^ "The Hot 100 Chart". Billboard. 1968-01-20. Retrieved 2021-02-15.
  5. ^ "The RS 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". Retrieved 2008-07-25.
  6. ^ Steffen Hung (2007-04-16). "Carola [FI] - Chain Of Fools". Retrieved 2016-09-30.[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ "Carolaa seitsemällä kielellä | Elävä arkisto". (in Finnish). Retrieved 2016-09-30.
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-11-02. Retrieved 2014-11-01.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. ^ "Fantasia (4) – I Believe (CD)". Discogs. Retrieved June 14, 2012.
  10. ^ "Soul Man - EP di Luca Ronka su Apple Music". 2015-04-24. Retrieved 2016-09-30.

External links[edit]