I Put a Spell on You

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"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
B-side "Little Demon"
Released November 1956 (1956-11)
Format Seven-inch 45 rpm record
Length 2:25
Label Okeh
Producer(s) Arnold Maxin
Screamin' Jay Hawkins singles chronology
"Even Though"
"I Put a Spell on You"
"You Made Me Love You"

"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 original composition[edit]

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."[3]

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,[citation needed] and did not appear on the record charts despite the fact it was clearly a good seller.[citation needed] 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.[4] 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, and an obvious basis for much of what came later in rock and roll, including Dr. John, Alice Cooper, Eric Burdon, Screaming Lord Sutch, Warren Zevon, Arthur Brown (whose band the Crazy World of Arthur Brown recorded "I Put a Spell on You" in 1968), Black Sabbath, Ted Nugent, George Clinton, the Tubes, the Butthole Surfers, the Cramps, and Marilyn Manson[citation needed].

Covers and samples[edit]

Although Hawkins' version did not make any charts, several later cover versions have:

Most of the covers treat the song seriously; few attempt to duplicate Hawkins's bravura performance. Other uses of the song include:


  1. ^ Bush, John. Screamin' Jay Hawkins - I Put a Spell on You at AllMusic. Retrieved 7 November 2015.
  2. ^ 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. 
  3. ^ Julia Rubiner, Contemporary Musicians: Profiles of the People in Music, Volume 8, Gale, 1992, p.117
  4. ^ Chris Morris (Feb 26, 2000), "Legendary Screamin' Jay Hawkins Dies At 70", Billboard 
  5. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2003). Top Pop Singles 1955-2002 (1st ed.). Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. ISBN 0-89820-155-1. 
  6. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1996). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research. ISBN 0-89820-115-2. 
  7. ^ Betts, Graham (2004). Complete UK Hit Singles 1952-2004 (1st ed.). London: Collins. ISBN 0-00-717931-6. 
  8. ^ Adamski biography 1987

External links[edit]