Red Red Wine

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"Red Red Wine"
Red Red Wine label.jpg
Single by Neil Diamond
from the album Just for You
B-side"Red Rubber Ball"
Released1967 (1967)
Songwriter(s)Neil Diamond
Neil Diamond singles chronology
"New Orleans"
"Red Red Wine"
"Brooklyn Roads"

"Red Red Wine" is a song originally written, performed and recorded by American singer Neil Diamond in 1967 that appears on his second studio album, Just for You. The lyrics are written from the perspective of a person who finds that drinking red wine is the only way to forget his woes.

UB40 recorded a cover version in 1983 that went to #1 in the UK and was moderately successful in the United States. It was rereleased in 1988 and went to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Neil Diamond version[edit]

When Diamond left the Bang Records label in 1968, the label continued to release his singles, often adding newly recorded instruments and background vocals to album tracks from his two albums for Bang. For the "Red Red Wine" single, Bang added a background choir without Diamond's involvement or permission. Diamond's version reached #62 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1968. Billboard described the single as a "compelling, original folk-flavored ballad."[1]

A live version was released on Diamond's The Greatest Hits (1966–92), but the 1968 single version has never been issued on a vinyl album or CD. However, according to the liner notes in the booklet included in the 1996 box set "In My Lifetime," the version of "Red Red Wine" in the set is the 1968 Bang single #556. Diamond also released a live version on Hot August Night.

Several artists covered the song shortly after Diamond's recording was released:

  • In 1968, Dutch singer Peter Tetteroo (from the band Tee-Set) had a hit with a version that reached #6 on the Dutch Top 40 chart.
  • Jamaican-born singer Tony Tribe recorded a reggae version of the song in 1969 that reached #46 on the UK Singles Chart.[2] It became Trojan Records' first chart hit.[3]
  • Vic Dana's cover became his last Hot 100 hit, peaking at #72 in June 1970.

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1968) Peak
U.S. Billboard Hot 100[4] 62

UB40 version[edit]

"Red Red Wine"
Red Red Wine.jpg
Single by UB40
from the album Labour of Love
  • 8 August 1983 (1983-08-08)
  • 1988–2000 (re-releases)
Length5:20 (album/12" version)
3:01 (shortened version)
Songwriter(s)Neil Diamond
UB40 singles chronology
"I've Got Mine"
"Red Red Wine"
"Please Don't Make Me Cry"

UB40 recorded a version of "Red Red Wine" for their album of cover versions Labour of Love. According to UB40 member Astro, the group's former vocalist and trumpet player, the band were only familiar with Tony Tribe's version and did not realize that the writer and original singer was Neil Diamond. Astro told the Financial Times, "Even when we saw the writing credit which said 'N Diamond,' we thought it was a Jamaican artist called Negus Diamond."[5]

UB40's version features a lighter, reggae-style flavor compared to that of Diamond's somber, acoustic ballad. The UB40 version adds a toasted verse by Astro, opening: "Red Red Wine, you make me feel so fine/You keep me rocking all of the time," which was edited from the single that reached #1 on the UK Singles Chart in August 1983 and #34 in the U.S. in March 1984.

In 1988, UB40 performed the song at the Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Concert. Soon after, program director Guy Zapoleon of Phoenix-based KZZP[6] placed the full version, including Astro's "rap", on the station's playlist, and it soon became the station's most popular song. With UB40 ready to release Labour of Love II, Virgin Records promotion man Charlie Minor asked UB40 to hold off on releasing the album so that the label could reissue and promote "Red Red Wine." On the Billboard Hot 100 chart of 15 October 1988, the song hit #1.[7] In September 2014, the Official Charts Company announced that sales in the UK had reached one million.[8]

Neil Diamond has stated that UB40's "Red Red Wine" is among his favorite covers of his songs.[9] He frequently performs the song live using the UB40 reggae arrangement rather than that of the original version.


Chart (1983–2001) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[10] 2
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[11] 5
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[12] 1
Denmark (Hitlisten)[13] 2
Ireland (IRMA)[14] 1
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[15] 1
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[16] 1
Norway (VG-lista)[17] 10
Poland (LP3)[18] 7
South Africa (Springbok Radio/Radio Orion)[19] 1
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[20] 14
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[21] 8
UK Singles (OCC)[22] 1
US Billboard Hot 100[23] 1
West Germany (Official German Charts)[24] 12

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (1988) Position
United States (Billboard)[25][26] 39


Region Certification Certified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada)[27] Gold 50,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[28] Gold 10,000*
United Kingdom (BPI)[30] Platinum 1,245,324[29]
United States (RIAA)[31] Gold 500,000^

* Sales figures based on certification alone.
^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.

Other cover versions[edit]


  1. ^ "Spotlight Singles" (PDF). Billboard. 16 March 1968. p. 78. Retrieved 23 February 2021.
  2. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 565. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  3. ^ "History - Trojan Records".
  4. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2013). Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles, 14th Edition: 1955-2012. Record Research. p. 237.
  5. ^ Lisi, Brian. "The untold story behind UB40's hit reggae song 'Red Red Wine' - NY Daily News". New York Daily News.
  6. ^ Molanphy, Chris (28 April 2017). "Hit Parade: The Rogue DJ Edition". Slate. ISSN 1091-2339. Retrieved 20 October 2019.
  7. ^ "35 Years After 'Red Red Wine,' UB40's 'Labour of Love' Continues". Billboard. Retrieved 20 October 2019.
  8. ^ Moss, Liv (22 September 2014). "Now That's What I Call A Million tracklisting revealed!". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 22 September 2014.
  9. ^ "Singer/songwriter Neil Diamond here, AMA!". Reddit. 16 October 2014. Retrieved 17 October 2014.
  10. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (Illustrated ed.). St. Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 316. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. N.B. The Kent Report chart was licensed by ARIA between mid 1983 and 19 June 1988.
  11. ^ "UB40 – Red Red Wine" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40.
  12. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 4468." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 1 January 2021.
  13. ^ "Danish Charts Archive?".
  14. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Red Red Wine". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 1 January 2021.
  15. ^ "De Nederlandse Top 40, week 39, 1983". Archived from the original on 14 September 2008.
  16. ^ "UB40 – Red Red Wine". Top 40 Singles.
  17. ^ "UB40 – Red Red Wine". VG-lista.
  18. ^ "Notowanie nr 80" (in Polish). 29 October 1983. Retrieved 17 January 2021.
  19. ^ "South African Rock Lists Website - SA Charts 1969 - 1989 Acts (U)". Retrieved 13 October 2021.
  20. ^ "UB40 – Red Red Wine". Singles Top 100.
  21. ^ "UB40 – Red Red Wine". Swiss Singles Chart.
  22. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  23. ^ "UB40 Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  24. ^ " – UB40 – Red Red Wine". GfK Entertainment Charts.
  25. ^ "1988 The Year in Music & Video: Top Pop Singles". Billboard. Vol. 100 no. 52. 24 December 1988. p. Y-20.
  26. ^ "Billboard Top 100 – 1988". Retrieved 3 October 2016.
  27. ^ "Canadian single certifications – UB40 – Red Red Wine". Music Canada.
  28. ^ "New Zealand single certifications – UB40 – Red Red Wine". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved 25 November 2021.
  29. ^ Copsey, Rob (19 September 2017). "The UK's Official Chart 'millionaires' revealed". Official Charts Company.
  30. ^ "British single certifications – UB40 – Red Red Wine". British Phonographic Industry.Select singles in the Format field. Select Platinum in the Certification field. Type Red Red Wine in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  31. ^ "American single certifications – UB40 – Red Red Wine". Recording Industry Association of America.
  32. ^ "JIMMY JAMES & THE VAGABONDS | full Official Chart History | Official Charts Company".
  33. ^ "TONY TRIBE | full Official Chart History | Official Charts Company".
  34. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961-2001. Record Research. p. 70.
  35. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book Of Top 40 Country Hits: 1944-2006, Second edition. Record Research. p. 110.