Only Sixteen

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This article is about the Sam Cooke song. For the Terry Black album, see Only 16.
"Only Sixteen"
Single by Sam Cooke
B-side "Let's Go Steady Again"
Released May 1959
Format 7"
Recorded January 4, 1959
Rex Productions
(Los Angeles, California)
Genre Rhythm and blues, soul, pop
Length 2:00
Label Keen 2022
Writer(s) Sam Cooke, Lou Adler, Herb Alpert
Producer(s) Bumps Blackwell
Sam Cooke singles chronology
"Everybody Loves to Cha Cha Cha"
"Only Sixteen"

"Only Sixteen" is a song by American singer-songwriter Sam Cooke, released in May 1959. The song was a top 15 hit on Billboard's Hot R&B Sides chart and also charted within the top 30 of the Billboard Hot 100 and the UK Singles Chart. It the UK it was covered, and taken to No. 1, by Craig Douglas.


"Only Sixteen" was inspired by the sixteenth birthday of Lou Rawls' stepsister, Eunice.[1] The song was originally intended for actor Steve Rowland, who often hung around the Keen studio. Rowland asked Cooke to write a song for him, and Cooke borrowed the bridge from an earlier song of his, "Little Things You Do". Rowland's manager disliked the song, and Cooke re-recorded it for himself.[1][2]

Chart performance[edit]

Weekly singles chart (1959) Peak
UK[3] 23
U.S. Billboard Hot 100[4] 28
U.S. Hot R&B Sides (Billboard)[4] 13
"Only Sixteen"
Single by Dr. Hook
from the album Bankrupt
B-side "Let Me Be Your Lover"
Released December 1975
Format 7"
Genre Pop
Label Capitol
Writer(s) Sam Cooke
Producer(s) Ron Haffkine
Certification Gold
Dr. Hook singles chronology
"The Millionaire"
"Only Sixteen"
"A Little Bit More"

Dr. Hook cover[edit]

Dr. Hook released a version of "Only Sixteen" in the winter of 1976. Their version was the most successful chart release of the song. It reached number six on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and number five on the Cash Box Top 100. Dr. Hook's version spent 22 weeks on the charts and became a Gold record. The song was banned by the BBC[citation needed].

Chart performance[edit]

Weekly singles charts[edit]

Chart (1975-76) Peak
Canadian RPM Top Singles[5] 3
Canadian RPM Adult Contemporary [6] 9
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 6
U.S. Cash Box Top 100 5

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (1976) Position
Canada [7] 54
U.S. Billboard Hot 100[8] 35

Other cover versions[edit]

Terry Black released a version of the song in Canada in 1965 where it reached #14.[9] The Supremes recorded it on their 1965 album We Remember Sam Cooke.


Credits adapted from the liner notes to the 2003 compilation Portrait of a Legend: 1951–1964.[1]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]