Hard to Handle (song)

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"Hard to Handle"
Song by Otis Redding
from the album The Immortal Otis Redding
Language English
Released June 1968
Recorded 1967
Genre Soul
Length 2:17
Label Atco
Songwriter(s) Allen Jones, Al Bell, and Otis Redding
Producer(s) Steve Cropper

"Hard to Handle" is a 1968 song written by American soul music star Otis Redding along with Al Bell and Allen Jones. Originally recorded by Redding, it was released in 1968 as the B-side to "Amen" (shortly after the singer's sudden death in 1967). The song also appears on the 1968 album The Immortal Otis Redding. Redding's version reached #38 on the Billboard R&B charts and #51 on the pop charts.

Numerous covers of the song exist, notably a 1990 blues rock take on the track by band The Black Crowes.

"Hard to Handle"
Single by The Black Crowes
from the album Shake Your Money Maker
Released 1990
Recorded 1989
Genre Hard rock, blues rock
Length 3:08
Label Def American
Songwriter(s) Allen Jones, Al Bell, and Otis Redding
Producer(s) George Drakoulias
The Black Crowes singles chronology
"Jealous Again"
"Hard to Handle"
"Twice As Hard"

"Jealous Again"
"Hard to Handle"
"Twice As Hard"

Cover versions[edit]

The song has been covered by many artists, including Patti Drew (with perhaps the earliest cover in 1968), King Floyd, Grateful Dead, The Black Crowes, Tom Jones, Toots and the Maytals, Rustix, Band from TV, Harpers Bizarre, Gov't Mule, Tony Joe White, Magic Slim and the Teardrops, New Riders of the Purple Sage, Matt Giraud, Etta James and Snafu as well as by Mae West in the film Myra Breckinridge. It was covered by the band Liquid Smoke in 1969 in a style very similar to The Black Crowes version.

"Hard to Handle" was a mainstay of the Grateful Dead's live set from 1969 to 1971, as sung by Ron "Pigpen" McKernan. The song has been played by Furthur, Bob Weir and Phil Lesh and Friends.

The Stanford Band performs a cover as part of their standard repertoire. A recording is on their album The Wind of Freedom Blow (Greatest Hits 1970-1998).

It was sung live by Paul Young at Easter 1994 on Chris Evans' game show, Don't Forget Your Toothbrush. The accompanying band was led by Jools Holland on piano.

Gov't Mule with Toots Hibbert covered the song on Gov't Mule's 2006 album, Mighty High.

In August 2007, soul singer Guy Sebastian recorded a tribute version of Hard to Handle at Ardent Studios in Memphis, Tennessee, for his album of soul classics, The Memphis Album with many of the original Stax music band members including Steve Cropper, Donald "Duck" Dunn, Lester Snell, and Steve Potts.

The song was featured prominently in the movie The Commitments.

American Idol contestant Phillip Phillips performed the song on the eleventh season of the show. The studio version is available for download on iTunes.

15-year-old singer and actor Greyson Chance performed "Hard to Handle" on Raising Hope as young Jimmy.

Country singer Joe Diffie recorded a bluegrass album called Homecoming in 2010, which featured the song as the final track.

Gerald de Palmas sang the song in his show in 2012.

Courtney Hadwin sang it as the golden buzzer winner on America’s Got Talent on June 12, 2018.

The Black Crowes version[edit]

Perhaps the most notable cover is by The Black Crowes, for whom it was a breakout hit single from their 1990 debut album Shake Your Money Maker. Two versions of the song exist: the original album version and the hit single remixed with an overdubbed brass section.[citation needed] The Crowes' version reached number one on the Billboard Album Rock Tracks chart and number 26 on the Billboard Hot 100.

A cover version in the style of the Black Crowes is available as a downloadable track for the music video game series Rock Band. Another covered version by Steve Ouimette is in the video game Guitar Hero: Aerosmith.


Chart (1990) Peak
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[1] 40
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[2] 56
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[3] 45
US Billboard Hot 100[4] 26
US Mainstream Rock (Billboard)[5] 1

Other uses[edit]

The Lemon Jelly song "Rock", from a very rare limited edition (1000 copies) album called "Soft Rock" (which came in an actual pair of actual Levi jeans with a condom in the pocket), features sampled elements of "Hard to Handle".

Reggae artist Capleton used the ascension / descension for "Wings of the Mourning" (remix) 1992 on the Def Jam label Masta Ace samples this song's bass line for "Four Minus Three", a song from his debut album Take a Look Around.

The hip-hop producer Marley Marl sampled the five-note ascension and descension intro for his song "The Symphony" from his 1988 album In Control, Volume 1. This was re-sampled for the 1992 Wreckx-N-Effect song "Hard" and the 1999 Snoop Dogg song "Ghetto Symphony" from his 1999 album No Limit Top Dogg.

Rapper Frankie Cutlass also uses the five ascending notes.[clarification needed] on his song "The Cypher Pt III" from his 1997 album Politics & Bullshit.

The song has been used in a 2011 advert for Anchor butter, celebrating 125 years of Anchor.

The original Otis Redding version was used in a 2015 Natwest advert for Apple Pay.


External links[edit]