Written by Berry Gordy Jr.,Gwendolyn Gordy (Berry's sister) and Roquel "Billy" Davis, going under the pseudonym Tyran Carlo, the single, alongside Wilson's debuting five consecutive singles between 1957–58, turned Wilson into an R&B superstar and influenced the later careers of Davis, who joined the staff of Chess Records while Gordy used the money from the song's success to form Motown Records within a year. The song raced up to number-one on the Billboard R&B chart and became Wilson's first top ten hit on the Billboard Hot 100, eventually peaking at number seven. It was originally intended by Gordy to be recorded as a ballad. After recording it, Wilson and Brunswick executives felt the song lacked something. It was then given to veteran Decca Records arranger Dick Jacobs who re-arranged it into the smash hit it became. The hit's success helped land Wilson on American Bandstand and The Ed Sullivan Show performing to receptive audiences on the respective shows, as well as other shows such as Shindig and Hullabaloo.
This was the last song Jackie Wilson performed before his coma and later death, when he collapsed on-stage singing it while appearing as one of the feature acts in Dick Clark's Good Ol' Rock and Roll Revue in 1975.
The biggest hit cover version was recorded by country music singer Narvel Felts. His version was released in 1976 and reached #5 on the BillboardHot Country Singles chart that June. He also reached #62 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Covers of the song have also appeared in several films: Michael McDonald covered the song in the early 1990s and his version was used in the film Leaving Las Vegas. It was also covered by Howard Huntsberry for the 1987 biographical movie about Ritchie Valens, La Bamba, and Huey Lewis's performance of the song in the 2000 karaoke-themed film Duets was also released as part of the film's soundtrack. The jazz fusion/rock guitarist Robby Krieger (The Doors) performs an version of the song on his 1989 solo album, No Habla.