Don't Leave Me This Way

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This article is about the song written by Kenneth Gamble, Leon Huff and Cary Gilbert. For the Tina Turner song, see Don't Leave Me This Way (Tina Turner song).
"Don't Leave Me This Way"
Single by Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes
from the album Wake Up Everybody
B-side "To Be Free to Be Who We Are"
  • 1975
  • 1977
  • 1979
  • 1988
Recorded 1975
  • 6:08 (Album version)
  • 3:59 (7' edit)
  • 7:07 (12" version)
  • 11:00 (1988 version)
Label Philadelphia International
Writer(s) Kenneth Gamble, Leon Huff and Cary Gilbert
Producer(s) Gamble & Huff
Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes singles chronology
"Tell the World How I Feel about 'Cha Baby"
"Don't Leave Me This Way"
"Reaching for the World"
Audio sample
file info · help

"Don't Leave Me This Way" is a song written by Kenneth Gamble, Leon Huff and Cary Gilbert. First charting as a hit for Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, an act on Gamble & Huff's Philadelphia International label in 1975, "Don't Leave Me This Way" was later a huge disco hit for Motown artist Thelma Houston in 1977. The song was a major hit for British group The Communards in 1986.

Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes version[edit]

The Blue Notes' original version of the song, featuring Teddy Pendergrass' lead vocal, was included as an album track on the group's successful album Wake Up Everybody released in November 1975. Though not issued as a single in the United States at the time, the Blue Notes' recording reached #3 on the US Billboard Disco Chart in the wake of Thelma Houston's version. The song proved to be the group's biggest hit in the UK, #5 on the UK singles chart, when released there as a single in 1977. It became the title track of a budget LP issued on the CBS Embassy label in the UK in 1978.[1][2] The track was finally issued as a 12-inch single in the US in 1979, coupled with "Bad Luck".

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1975) Peak
US Billboard Disco Chart[3] 3
Chart (1977) Peak
Swedish Singles Chart[4] 13
UK Singles Chart[5] 5

Thelma Houston version[edit]

"Don't Leave Me This Way"
Single by Thelma Houston
from the album Any Way You Like It
B-side "Today Will Soon Be Yesterday"
Released December 2, 1976
Recorded 1976
Length 3:37
Label Motown
Producer(s) Hal Davis
Certification Platinum (US)
Thelma Houston singles chronology
"You've Been Doing Wrong for So Long"
"Don't Leave Me This Way"
"If It's the Last Thing I Do"

"Don't Leave Me This Way" was covered by Motown in 1976. Originally assigned to Diana Ross, it was intended to be the follow-up to her hit "Love Hangover" but was reassigned and given to the upcoming Motown artist Thelma Houston instead. Following the release of her third album Any Way You Like It, a Boston record pool unanimously reported positive audience response to "Don't Leave Me This Way" in discos, and the song was selected for release as a single.[6] Houston's version became a massive international hit, topping the soul singles chart[7] and, nine weeks later, the Hot 100 for one week in April 1977. The song peaked at #13 in the UK. The song went to number one on the disco chart.[8] Later in the year, it was featured on the soundtrack of the movie, Looking for Mr. Goodbar. In 1978, "Don't Leave Me This Way" won the award for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female at the 20th Annual Grammy Awards.[9]

Houston's version was revived in 1995 in several remixes, which reached #19 on the US Billboard Dance Chart and #35 in the UK. This version got Houston ranked #86 on VH1's "100 Greatest One-hit Wonders", as well as the #2 spot on their "100 Greatest Dance Songs" list.

The 1994/1995 remixes are: R&B vs 4:00 | Remix radio vs 4:00 | 7” radio edit 4:00 | Club remix vertigo 5:40 | House club remix 5:40 | Factory team remix 5:50 | U.S. club edit 5:50 | Serious rope club remix 7:10 | Serious rope 7” remix 4:10 | Jazz voice's classic club trax 6:10 | Jazz voice's dub mix 7:35 | Xs'2 house pump mix 7:30 | Joe T. Vanelli dubby mix 8:40 | Joe T. Vanelli light mix 5:20 | Joe T. Vanelli Radio Cut 3:54 | Joe T. Vanelli Extra Dubby 5:17 | Junior sound factory mix 9:30 | Tribe dub (acid vocal) 7:20 | Junior's factory dub 9:30 | Junior gospel dub 7:55 | Junior's Tribe Prank Mix and Radio Edit 3:20.

HIV/AIDS significance[edit]

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Houston's version of the song became an unofficial theme song for the AIDS epidemic in gay male communities of the west. American artist Nayland Blake created a work for American Foundation of AIDS research about the epidemic that referenced the song and its significance in the community. An art exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia entitled "Don't Leave Me This Way - Art in the age of AIDS" opened in 1994 containing various works about the epidemic. A 246-page publication of the exhibition also followed.[10]

Chart performance[edit]

(original version)
U.S. Billboard Hot Soul Singles[11] 1
U.S. Billboard Hot Dance Club Play[11] 1
U.S. Billboard Hot 100[11] 1
(original version)
#6 #18 #4 #13 #9 #15 #4 #17 #1 #11 #4 #13
(remix version)
US Billboard Hot Dance Club Play[11] 19
UK Singles Chart[5] 35
Preceded by
"Don't Give Up on Us" by David Soul
Billboard Hot 100 number one single
April 23, 1977
Succeeded by
"Southern Nights" by Glen Campbell
Preceded by
"I Wish" by Stevie Wonder
Billboard's Hot Soul Singles number one single
February 19, 1977
Succeeded by
"I've Got Love on My Mind" by Natalie Cole
Preceded by
Four Seasons of Love by Donna Summer (all cuts)
Billboard Hot Dance Club Play number-one single (with "Any Way You Like It")
December 25, 1976 – January 29, 1977
Succeeded by
"Disco Inferno" / "Starvin'" / "Body Contact Contract" by The Trammps

The Communards version[edit]

"Don't Leave Me This Way"
Single by The Communards with Sarah Jane Morris
from the album Communards
B-side "Sanctified"
Released 1986
Format 7" vinyl,
12" vinyl,
CD single,
Cassette single
Recorded 1986
Genre Hi-NRG[12][13]
Length 4:50
Label London
Writer(s) Kenneth Gamble, Leon Huff and Cary Gilbert
Producer(s) Mike Thorne
The Communards chronology
"Don't Leave Me This Way"
"So Cold the Night"

The song was covered by The Communards in a Hi-NRG version. This recording topped the UK charts for four weeks in September 1986, becoming the biggest selling record of the year in the process.[5] The featured guest vocalist was the female jazz singer Sarah Jane Morris.[14] The song only reached #40 on the US Billboard Hot 100 but did top the Billboard Dance chart.[15] In 2015 the song was voted by the British public as the nation's 16th favourite 1980s number one in a poll for ITV.[16]

Several remixes were issued, notably the "Gotham City Mix" which was split across two sides of a 12" single and ran for a total of 22 minutes 55 seconds.

The album liner notes dedicate the song to the GLC.

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1986-1987) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report) 2
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[17] 19
Belgium (VRT Top 30 Flanders)[18] 1
Europe (Eurochart Hot 100 Singles) 4
France (SNEP)[19] 6
Germany (Official German Charts)[20] 5
Ireland (IRMA)[21] 1
Italy (FIMI)[22] 5
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[23] 1
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[24] 2
Spain (AFYVE)[25] 6
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[26] 2
United Kingdom (The Official Charts Company)[27] 1
US Billboard Hot 100[28] 40
Preceded by
"The Power of Love by Jennifer Rush
Top selling single of the year (UK)
Succeeded by
"Never Gonna Give You Up" by Rick Astley
Preceded by
"I Want to Wake Up with You" by Boris Gardiner
UK Singles Chart number one single
September 7, 1986 (4 weeks)
Succeeded by
"True Blue" by Madonna
Preceded by
"Word Up!" by Cameo
Billboard Hot Dance Club Play number-one single
November 22, 1986
Succeeded by
"I Can't Turn Around" by J.M. Silk

Other cover versions[edit]

"Don't Leave Me This Way" has been recorded by several other artists including Isaac Hayes, Gerard Joling, José Galisteo, Thelma Houston, and The Temptations, amongst others. In 1984 the first Hi-NRG styled covers before The Communards were by Carol Jiani and a group named Slip. The song was also covered by pop diva Sheena Easton in 2001 on her Fabulous disco album. It has been covered three times on American Idol, by LaToya London (season 3), Vonzell Solomon (season 4), and Ramiele Malubay (season 7). Malubay's version had a limited release as a live performance single on the iTunes Music Store in 2008. A French version was sung by Sylvie Vartan under the title "Ne pars pas comme ça".

Cher performed the song at her Las Vegas show Cher at the Colosseum as a prelude to "Take Me Home".

A version of the song is featured in the stage musical, Priscilla Queen of the Desert – the Musical during a funeral scene.

The Eurodisco song "Yes Sir, I Can Boogie" by Baccara (1977) borrows heavily from this song, sharing the intro and the bass line but with a different chorus line.

Episode 6 of the 2004 BBC miniseries Blackpool featured the Communards version, accompanied on screen by the singing and dancing of the characters, as part of the story.

In 2006 Andy Abraham recorded a cover version for his album Soul Man.

"Don't Leave Me This Way" was covered by Black Grass, featuring Dominique Noiret as the vocalist. This cover (5'49") first appeared on the Black Grass album "A Hundred Days in One" (track 5) and then later on the compilation album "Chill-Out Istanbul" from Lounge 102.

In 2010, Australian actor/singer Jason Donovan recorded a cover version of "Don't Leave Me This Way" for his 80s covers album Soundtrack of the 80s; he took the 1986 Communards version as his inspiration.

The 2012 song "Lying Together" by French Kiwi Juice samples vocals from Houston's cover.

In 2013, Dami Im recorded a version for her album Dami Im. The album was #1 in Australia.


  1. ^ Original album
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Allmusic – Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes – Billboard singles". Retrieved December 30, 2008 (2008-12-30).  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  4. ^ "". Retrieved December 30, 2008. 
  5. ^ a b c " search results for "Don't Leave Me This Way"". Retrieved December 30, 2008. 
  6. ^ Stibal, Mary E. (October 1977). "Disco—Birth of a New Marketing System". Journal of Marketing (American Marketing Association) 41 (4): 82–88. doi:10.2307/1250240. 
  7. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 262. 
  8. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Hot Dance/Disco: 1974-2003. Record Research. p. 124. 
  9. ^ "Past Winners Search". Grammy Foundation. Retrieved January 15, 2014. 
  10. ^ Cosgrove, Stuart (May 10, 1995). "Don't leave me this way". The Independent (London). 
  11. ^ a b c d "Allmusic – Thelma Houston – Billboard singles". Retrieved December 30, 2008 (2008-12-30).  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  12. ^ Robbins, Ira; Rompers, Terry. "Bronski Beat". Trouser Press. Retrieved 25 October 2013. 
  13. ^ "Reviews > Dance > Picks > Communards – Don't Leave Me This Way". Billboard (Nielsen Business Media) 98 (38): 73. 20 September 1986. ISSN 0006-2510. 
  14. ^ Morris will record later (2001) an acoustic version of the song, included in her album "August"
  15. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Hot Dance/Disco: 1974-2003. Record Research. p. 62. 
  16. ^ Westbrook, Caroline (25 July 2015). "The Nation’s Favourite 80s Number One: 12 more classic 80s chart-toppers which didn’t make the cut". Metro. Retrieved 27 July 2015. 
  17. ^ " – The Communards – Don't Leave Me This Way" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40.
  18. ^ "don't leave me this way - the communards". VRT (in Dutch). Retrieved 25 July 2013.  Hoogste notering in de top 30 : 1
  19. ^ " – The Communards – Don't Leave Me This Way" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved 21 July 2013.
  20. ^ " – The Communards – Don't Leave Me This Way". GfK Entertainment.
  21. ^ "Chart Track: Week 39, 1986". Irish Singles Chart.
  22. ^ "I singoli più venduti del 1986". HitParadeItalia (in Italian). Creative Commons. Retrieved 1 June 2013. 
    10. Don't Leave Me This Way - The Communards [#5]
  23. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – The Communards search results" (in Dutch) Dutch Top 40.
  24. ^ " – The Communards – Don't Leave Me This Way". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved 21 July 2013.
  25. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (January 1987). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2. 
  26. ^ " – The Communards – Don't Leave Me This Way". Swiss Singles Chart.
  27. ^ UK Singles Chart (Retrieved April 10, 2008)
  28. ^ richard-mn0000018513/awards "The Communards awards at Allmusic". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 1 June 2013. [dead link]