Needles and Pins (song)

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"Needles and Pins"
Single by Jackie DeShannon
B-side"Did He Call Today, Mama?"
Released11 April 1963
LabelLiberty F-55563
Producer(s)Dick Glasser

"Needles and Pins" is a rock song credited to American writers Jack Nitzsche and Sonny Bono. Jackie DeShannon recorded it in 1963 and other versions followed, including by Cher, The Searchers, Smokie, the Ramones, Del Shannon, Gene Clark, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers with Stevie Nicks, and Crack The Sky, and Willie DeVille.

Jackie DeShannon version (1963)[edit]

In his autobiography, Bono states that he sang along with Nitzsche's guitar-playing, thus creating both the tune and the lyrics, being guided by the chord progressions.[1] However, Jackie DeShannon claims that the song was written at the piano, and that she was a full participant in the song's creation, along with Nitzsche and Bono, although she did not get formal credit.[2][3]

DeShannon was the first to record the song; in the US it peaked at number 84 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in May 1963.[4] Though it was only a minor US hit, DeShannon's recording of the song topped the charts in Canada, hitting number one on the CHUM Chart in 1963.

Chart (1963) Peak
Canadian CHUM Singles Chart 1
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 84

The Searchers version (1964)[edit]

"Needles and Pins"
The Searchers - Needles and Pins single.jpg
Single by The Searchers
B-side"Saturday Night Out"
Released7 January 1964[5] (UK)
Producer(s)Tony Hatch[7]
The Searchers singles chronology
"Sweet Nothins"
"Needles and Pins"
"Don't Throw Your Love Away"

The Searchers heard British performer Cliff Bennett perform "Needles and Pins" at a club in Hamburg, Germany, and instantly wanted it to be their next single. The Pye Records single was released in January 1964.[7] It was number one in the United Kingdom,[7] Ireland and South Africa and peaked at number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in the United States. Soon after, in April 1964, "Needles and Pins" appeared on The Searchers' next album, It's the Searchers.

Audible during The Searchers' recording of "Needles and Pins" is a faulty bass drum pedal, which squeaks throughout the song. It is particularly noticeable during the opening of the number.

Part of The Searchers' version can be heard as the intro of the song "Use the Man" from Megadeth's Cryptic Writings album, although it does not appear on the remastered version.

A German version sung by The Searchers is called "Tausend Nadelstiche".[8]

Chart (1964) Peak
Finnish Singles Charts[9] 31
French Singles Chart 29
German Singles Chart[10] 8
Irish Singles Chart[11] 1
Swedish Singles Chart 5
UK Singles Chart[12] 1
US Billboard Hot 100 13
Norwegian Singles Chart[13] 8
South African Singles Chart 1

Smokie version (1977)[edit]

"Needles and Pins"
Single by Smokie
B-side"No One Could Ever Love You More"
Producer(s)Mike Chapman
Smokie singles chronology
"It's Your Life"
"Needles and Pins"
"For a Few Dollars More"

In 1977, at the height of their popularity, English rock band Smokie recorded the song as a rock ballad for the album Bright Lights & Back Alleys, and got a European and an Australian hit with "Needles and Pins". The song reached number one in Austria. Later, ex-Smokie vocalist Chris Norman included his solo cover of the song on his studio album Full Circle (2000).[14]

Chart (1977) Peak
UK Singles (OCC)[15] 10
Australia (Kent Music Report)[16] 7
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[17] 1
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[18] 5
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Wallonia)[19] 17
Germany (Official German Charts)[20] 2
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[21] 5
Norway (VG-lista)[22] 4
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[23] 7

Ramones version (1978)[edit]

The Ramones included "Needles and Pins" on their 1978 album Road to Ruin. Their version was also included on the band's first greatest hits collection, Ramones Mania.

In turn, pop-punk band The Commercials recorded the song for the tribute album Ramones Maniacs.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers version (1985; live)[edit]

"Needles and Pins"
Single by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers feat. Stevie Nicks
from the album Pack up the Plantation: Live!
LabelMCA records

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers released their first live album in 1985 called Pack Up the Plantation: Live! where singer-songwriter and Fleetwood Mac vocalist Stevie Nicks performed on "Needles and Pins" with Tom Petty at the Forum in Los Angeles, California in June of 1981.

Cash Box said that "a great song is given a great treatment."[24]

Chart (1985) Peak
Canadian RPM Top Singles 85
South African Springbok Top 20 Top Singles 3
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 37
U.S. Billboard Album Rock Tracks 17

Willie DeVille version (1999)[edit]

Willie DeVille recorded "Needles and Pins" for his 1999 album Horse Of A Different Colour.


  1. ^ Bono, Sonny (1991). And the Beat Goes On. New York: Pocket Books.
  2. ^ Gross, Terry; DeShannon, Jackie (14 June 2010). "What The World Needs Now Is Jackie DeShannon [interview transcript]". Fresh Air. National Public Radio. Retrieved 21 February 2017. And I had some I did contribute to that song, but I did not get writing credit at the time, I did not pursue it.
  3. ^ Kubernik, Harvey (2009). Canyon of Dreams: The Magic and the Music of Laurel Canyon. Sterling. p. 34. ISBN 978-1402797613. Retrieved 21 February 2017. We were at the piano going over musical riffs and finally settled on the one starts off 'Needles and Pins'.
  4. ^ Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955-1990, Record Research, Inc., Menomonee Falls WI, 1991
  5. ^ "The single: Needles And Pins b/w Saturday Night Out". Archived from the original on 24 December 2002.
  6. ^ LaBate, Steve (18 December 2009). "Jangle Bell Rock: A Chronological (Non-Holiday) Anthology… from The Beatles and Byrds to R.E.M. and Beyond". Paste. Retrieved 24 July 2016.
  7. ^ a b c d Rice, Jo (1982). The Guinness Book of 500 Number One Hits (1st ed.). Enfield, Middlesex: Guinness Superlatives Ltd. p. 76. ISBN 0-85112-250-7.
  8. ^ "Searchers - Tausend Nadelstiche" – via YouTube.
  9. ^ Nyman, Jake (2005). Suomi soi 4: Suuri suomalainen listakirja (in Finnish) (1st ed.). Helsinki: Tammi. p. 203. ISBN 951-31-2503-3.
  10. ^ "Chartverfolgung > The Searchers > Needles and Pins" (in German). Media Control Charts. 19 April 1984. Archived from the original on 11 October 2012. Retrieved 5 February 2011.
  11. ^ "The Irish Charts – All There Is To Know". Irish Recorded Music Association. 22 January 1984. Retrieved 3 July 2009.
  12. ^ "Official Charts Company - The Searchers - Needles And Pins". Retrieved 9 February 2014.
  13. ^ Steffen Hung. "The Searchers - Needles And Pins". Retrieved 9 February 2014.
  14. ^ " - Chris Norman - Full Circle". Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  15. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 21 August 2021.
  16. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 279. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  17. ^ "Smokie – Needles And Pins" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved 21 August 2021.
  18. ^ "Smokie – Needles And Pins" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved 21 August 2021.
  19. ^ "Smokie – Needles And Pins" (in French). Ultratop 50. Retrieved 21 August 2021.
  20. ^ "Smokie – Needles And Pins" (in German). GfK Entertainment charts. Retrieved 21 August 2021.
  21. ^ "Smokie – Needles And Pins" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 21 August 2021.
  22. ^ "Smokie – Needles And Pins". VG-lista. Retrieved 21 August 2021.
  23. ^ "Smokie – Needles And Pins". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved 21 August 2021.
  24. ^ "Single Releases" (PDF). Cash Box. 1 February 1986. p. 11. Retrieved 3 August 2022.