Lipstick Traces (on a Cigarette)

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"Lipstick Traces (on a Cigarette)"
Single by Benny Spellman
B-side "Fortune Teller"
Released 1962
Format 7" single

February 2, 1962

New Orleans, Louisiana[1]
Genre R&B
Length 2:23
Label Minit Records 644
Writer(s) Naomi Neville
Producer(s) Allen Toussaint
Benny Spellman singles chronology
"Darling No Matter Where"
"Lipstick Traces (on a Cigarette)"
"Love Is Universal"

"Lipstick Traces (on a Cigarette)" is a song first recorded by New Orleans singer Benny Spellman in 1962. It was written by Allen Toussaint under the pseudonym Naomi Neville. The song became Spellman's only hit record, peaking at number 28 on the Billboard R&B chart and number 80 on the Billboard Hot 100 pop chart. The flip side of the single was "Fortune Teller", made famous by The Rolling Stones cover among others.

Toussaint explained the song's origin in an interview with journalist Terry Gross of National Public Radio: "Well, 'Lipstick Traces'...the guy, Benny Spellman, that sang the bass part on "Mother-In-Law" - he didn't know what it was worth at the time we were doing it, but when "Mother-In-Law" came out and sold, and went to number one, let's say, Benny Spellman that sang the bass part made sure that everyone within the sound of his voice got to know that he sang that part. And then he would go around - he would gig - based on [the fact that] he sang the low part on "Mother-In-Law." And he encouraged me...with much force, to write him a song that he could use that concept. And one result of that was the song 'Lipstick Traces.'"[2]

"Lipstick Traces (on a Cigarette)" was recorded in New Orleans on February 2, 1962. The background vocals were done by label mates Irma Thomas and Willie Harper.[3]

Cover versions[edit]

"Lipstick Traces (On a Cigarette)"
Lipstick Traces - Starr.jpg
A-side label
Single by Ringo Starr
from the album Bad Boy
B-side "Old Time Relovin'"
Released 18 April 1978
Format 7" vinyl
Length 3:01
Label Portrait
Writer(s) Naomi Neville
Producer(s) Vini Poncia
Ringo Starr singles chronology
"Tango All Night"
"Lipstick Traces (On a Cigarette)"
"Heart on My Sleeve"

The song has been covered by a number of artists and bands. One of the earliest covers was done by The O'Jays in 1965. (Imperial single 66102) Their version peaked on the R&B chart at #28 and #48 on the pop chart.[4] It was included in the album Comin' Through (Imperial 9290), released in the same year.[5]

The American Breed covered this song on their 1967 debut album The American Breed.

Ringo Starr covered it in his 1978 album Bad Boy. Starr's version was released as a single in the US, backed with "Old Time Revolvin'", on 17 April 1978.[nb 1][6] Other artists who covered the song include Snooks Eaglin, Frankie Ford, Delbert McClinton, Amazing Rhythm Aces and Alex Chilton.[7] Joe Krown did an instrumental version of the song in his album Old Friends, released in 2007.[8]


  1. ^ US Portrait 6-70015[6]
  1. ^ THE ALADDIN/IMPERIAL LABELS - A Discography Compiled by Michel Ruppli (Greenwood Press)
  2. ^ Gross, Terry (host) (November 13, 2015). "'Fresh Air' Remembers Hit Songwriter, Pianist And Producer Allen Toussaint". Fresh Air. NPR. 
  3. ^ Liner notes to the CD The Allen Toussaint Touch by Clive Richardson
  4. ^ Joel Whitburn's Top R&B Singles 1942-1988 (Record Research)
  5. ^ "Comin' Through - The O'Jays | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  6. ^ a b Harry, Bill (2004). The Ringo Starr Encyclopedia. London: Virgin Books. p. 183. ISBN 9780753508435. 
  7. ^ [1][dead link]
  8. ^ "Old Friends - Joe Krown | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. 2007-03-06. Retrieved 2016-09-26.