I Put a Spell on You
|"I Put a Spell on You"|
A-side label of the 1956 U.S. 7-inch vinyl single
|Single by Screamin' Jay Hawkins|
|from the album At Home with Screamin' Jay Hawkins|
|Format||Seven-inch 45 rpm record|
|Screamin' Jay Hawkins singles chronology|
"I Put a Spell on You" is a 1956 song written by Jay Hawkins, whose recording was selected as one of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. It was also ranked No. 313 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. The track became a classic cult song covered by a variety of artists and was his greatest commercial success, reportedly surpassing a million copies in sales, although it failed to make the Billboard pop or R&B charts.
The original composition
Hawkins had originally intended to record "I Put a Spell on You" as "a refined love song, a blues ballad". However, the producer "brought in ribs and chicken and got everybody drunk, and we came out with this weird version ... I don't even remember making the record. Before, I was just a normal blues singer. I was just Jay Hawkins. It all sort of just fell in place. I found out I could do more destroying a song and screaming it to death."
Hawkins first recorded "I Put a Spell on You" during his stint with Grand Records in late 1955. However, that first version was not released at the time (it has since been reissued on Hawkins' UK Rev-Ola CD The Whamee 1953–55). The following year, in 1956, Hawkins re-recorded the song for Okeh Records, and this is the version best associated with Hawkins.
The "new" version became a quick success, but was banned by some stores and radio stations nationwide, and did not appear on the record charts despite the fact it was clearly a good seller. The new version brought Hawkins together with Cleveland disc jockey Alan Freed who promptly added him to his "Rock and Roll Review".
Up to this time, Hawkins had been a blues performer: emotional, but not wild. Freed suggested a gimmick to capitalize on the "demented" sound of "I Put a Spell on You": Hawkins wore a long cape, and appeared onstage by rising out of a coffin in the midst of smoke and fog. The act was a sensation, later bolstered by tusks worn in Hawkins' nose, on-stage snakes and fireworks, and a cigarette-smoking skull named "Henry".
This theatrical act was one of the first shock rock performances.
Covers and samples
Although Hawkins' version did not make any charts, several later cover versions have:
- Nina Simone's version reached No. 23 on the U.S. Billboard R&B chart in 1965; it also reached No. 49 on the UK singles chart that year, and No. 28 when it was reissued in 1969.
- The version by The Alan Price Set reached No. 9 in the UK in 1966 and No. 80 on the Billboard Hot 100.
- Creedence Clearwater Revival's version reached No. 58 on the U.S. Hot 100 in 1968. The band later performed it at the Woodstock Festival in 1969.
- Arthur Brown's first album, The Crazy World of Arthur Brown (album), contained a cover of the song, with different lyrics added; it was released in 1968.
- The Audience featured the song on their 1971 album The House on the Hill.
- A disco version by Dutch singer Dee Dee (Anna Dekkers) reached No. 16 on the Dutch charts in 1978 and was also released in Belgium (where it peaked on No. 12), France, Germany, Spain and Australia.
- In the UK, Bryan Ferry's version reached No. 18 in 1993.
- The version by Sonique reached No. 36 in 1998 and No. 5 on reissue in 2000.
- The version by Jeff Beck featuring Joss Stone was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal at the 53rd Grammy Awards.
- Marilyn Manson covered the song for their 1995 EP Smells Like Children and was later featured in the 1997 film Lost Highway (where Marilyn Manson himself made an appearance).
- Alice Smith's version was featured on Nina Revisited... A Tribute to Nina Simone in 2015.
- Natacha Atlas featured the song in her 2001 album Ayeshteni.
- Annie Lennox's version was part of the 2015 film Fifty Shades of Grey and was released on her 2014 album Nostalgia.
Most of the covers treat the song seriously; few attempt to duplicate Hawkins's bravura performance. Other uses of the song include:
- The song was featured in Jim Jarmusch's film Stranger Than Paradise.
- In 1967, the arrangement was used for Frank Sinatra's "The World We Knew (Over and Over)".
- It has been sampled on tracks by The Notorious B.I.G. ("Kick in the Door"), LL Cool J ("L.L. Cool J ft. Kandice Love"), The Heavy ("Sixteen") and Legion of Dynamic Diskord ("Rebel Rebel"). Producers Cookin' Soul incorporated more elements of the original song plus a tempo change for a remix featuring Styles P of The LOX.
- The song was featured and performed by Bette Midler in the 1993 Disney film, Hocus Pocus. The song has been used as the exit music for multiple Halloween-themed Disney fireworks shows; HalloWishes at Magic Kingdom, Halloween Screams at Disneyland, and Disney's Nightmare in the Sky at Hong Kong Disneyland. Midler also performed the song during her 2015 Divine Intervention Tour.
- Bush, John. Screamin' Jay Hawkins - I Put a Spell on You at AllMusic. Retrieved 7 November 2015.
- Mike McPadden (1 May 2012). If You Like Metallica...: Here Are Over 200 Bands, CDs, Movies, and Other Oddities That You Will Love. Backbeat Books. p. 37. ISBN 978-1-4768-1357-8. Retrieved 7 November 2015.
- Edward M. Komara (2006). Encyclopedia of the Blues: A-J. Routledge. p. 415. Retrieved 2008-12-04.
- Ed Sikov (1996). Laughing Hysterically: American Screen Comedy of the 1950s. Columbia University Press. p. 17. Retrieved 2008-12-04.
- Whitburn, Joel (2003). Top Pop Singles 1955–2002 (1st ed.). Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. ISBN 0-89820-155-1.
- Whitburn, Joel (1996). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942–2004. Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research. ISBN 0-89820-115-2.
- Julia Rubiner, Contemporary Musicians: Profiles of the People in Music, Volume 8, Gale, 1992, p.117
- Chris Morris (Feb 26, 2000), "Legendary Screamin' Jay Hawkins Dies At 70", Billboard
- Whitburn, Joel (2003). Top Pop Singles 1955-2002 (1st ed.). Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. ISBN 0-89820-155-1.
- Whitburn, Joel (1996). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research. ISBN 0-89820-115-2.
- Betts, Graham (2004). Complete UK Hit Singles 1952-2004 (1st ed.). London: Collins. ISBN 0-00-717931-6.
- Adamski biography 1987