Release Me (1949 song)
|Single by Eddie Miller|
|Label||Four Star Records|
"Release Me" (sometimes rendered as "Release Me (and Let Me Love Again)"), is a popular song written by Eddie "Piano" Miller and Robert Yount in 1949. Four years later it was recorded by Jimmy Heap & the Melody Masters (in 1953), and with even better success by Patti Page (1954), Ray Price (1954), and Kitty Wells (1954). Subsequently, Jivin' Gene [Bourgeois] & the Jokers recorded the tune in 1960, and that version served as an inspiration for Little Esther Phillips, who reached number one on the R&B chart and number eight on the pop chart with her big-selling cover. The Everly Brothers followed in 1963, along with Jerry Wallace (1966), Dean Martin (1967), Engelbert Humperdinck (1967) who was number one on the UK Singles Chart  and many others in the years after.
The Humperdinck version has the distinction in the UK of holding the number one slot on the chart for six weeks during March and April 1967, and preventing The Beatles' "Penny Lane" / "Strawberry Fields Forever" from reaching the top spot. Humperdinck's "Release Me" was also the highest selling single of 1967 in the UK, recording over one million in sales, eventually becoming one of the best selling singles of all time with sales of 1.38 million copies.
Although Miller later claimed to have written the song in 1946 -- only being able to record it himself in 1949 -- he actually co-wrote it with Robert Yount in 1949. As they were working at that time with Dub Williams, a pseudonym of James Pebworth, they gave him one-third of the song. The song was released with the writing credited to Miller-Williams-Gene, as Yount was using his stage name of Bobby Gene.
Although owner of Four Star Records William McCall would usually add his pseudonym "W.S. Stevenson" to the credit of songs he published, he failed to do so in 1949. However, in 1957, Miller and Yount entered into a new publishing agreement with Four Star Records, in which "W.S. Stevenson" replaced Williams as co-writer.
Yount signed away his royalty rights to William McCall in 1958, after which the credits to the song officially became "Miller-Stevenson", although multiple variations also existed. For example, Engelbert Humperdinck's United Kingdom 45 is credited to Eddie Miller, Robert Yount, Dub Williams and Robert Harris. The Harris credit, however, turned out to be another pseudonym for James Pebworth (along with Dub Williams).
With the bankruptcy of Four Star’s successor in interest, the copyright to the song was acquired by Acuff-Rose Music. When the initial term of copyright ended in 1983, it was renewed for a second term. Between 1983 and 1985 Acuff-Rose paid royalties to Yount, until they were notified by the family of the deceased William McCall of the 1958 assignment. Acuff-Rose then suspended payments until the dispute between the claimants was resolved. On December 24, 1996 the United States Courts of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, upheld the claim of the McCalls.
In country music
|Single by Ray Price|
|A-side||"I'll Be There (If You Ever Want Me)"|
December 28, 1953|
Castle Studio at The Tulane Hotel
|Ray Price singles chronology|
In country music, "Release Me" became a hit for Jimmy Heap, Kitty Wells, and Ray Price, all in 1954. Even though Price had several major hits beforehand, "Release Me" is sometimes considered his breakthrough hit. The song had elements of the 4/4 shuffle, Price's signature sound that would become more evident on future successes such as "Crazy Arms."
Price's version was part of a double-A sided hit, paired with another song that introduced fans to the 4/4 shuffle: "I'll Be There (If You Ever Want Me)." Both sides went on to become major hits for Price, with "Release Me" peaking at No. 6 and "I'll Be There" stopping at No. 2.
Engelbert Humperdinck version
|Single by Engelbert Humperdinck|
|Label||Decca Records F12541|
|Engelbert Humperdinck singles chronology|
In 1965, Humperdinck, who at the time was performing under the name of Gerry Dorsey, met up again with an old friend of his, Gordon Mills. By this time Mills was successfully managing Tom Jones. He took him onto his management roster and changed his name. He released a couple of near misses in the UK although one song "Dommage, Dommage" had been successful in Europe.
Early in 1967, Humperdinck was asked to stand in for Dickie Valentine, who was ill, on the variety TV show Sunday Night at the London Palladium. The show was one of the highest rated shows in the UK at the time. He sang his "Release Me" on the show. It reached number one in the UK Singles Chart on 2 March and stayed there for six weeks, keeping "Penny Lane"/"Strawberry Fields Forever" by The Beatles off the top of the charts in the process. Humperdinck's recording stayed in the charts for a record fifty-six consecutive weeks.
The B-side, "Ten Guitars", became a surprise hit in New Zealand among young Maori moving to the cities for work, and, not long after, the wider New Zealand music scene itself. 'Ten Guitars' later served as the name for a documentary on New Zealand popular music.
|Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)||1|
|Belgium (Ultratop 50 Wallonia)||14|
|Germany (Official German Charts)||20|
|Netherlands (Single Top 100)||2|
|New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)||45|
|UK Singles (Official Charts Company)||1|
|US Billboard Hot 100||4|
|US Adult Contemporary (Billboard)||28|
- Bobby Darin (1963)
- Roger Miller - year unknown (c. 1960s)
- Patti Page (1968, 1998)
- Ray Price (1954)
- Kitty Wells (1954)
- Jimmy Heap (1954)
- Jerry Lee Lewis (1958)
- Lefty Frizzell (1959)<Lefty Frizzle Essential Recordings Best of 40 Track Collection 2 CD, The Primo Collection 2015, Primo 6169>, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_H1mQXxK8wg>
- Wilburn Brothers (1962) (album "City Limits")
- Little Esther Phillips (1962)
- Everly Brothers (1963) (album Sing Great Country Hits)
- Cindy Malone (1963)
- Jerry Wallace (1966)
- Dean Martin (1967)
- Engelbert Humperdinck (1967)
- Matt Monro (1967)
- Los Quandos in Spanish with the title "Sueltame" (1967)
- John Vance Sound (1967)
- Floyd Cramer (1967) instrumental version on album Class of '67
- Johnny Adams (1968)
- Johnny Paycheck (1968) <https://www.allmusic.com/album/country-soul-mw0000864301>
- Earl Grant (1968)
- Dolly Parton (1968)
- Clifton Chenier (1969)
- Jerry Lee Lewis (1969)
- Toni Williams (1969)
- John Holt (1970s)
- Elvis Presley (1970)
- Roger Ruskin Spear (1971)
- Victor Wood covered this song in the album Mr. Lonely (1971)
- Loretta Lynn/Conway Twitty (1973)
- Charlie McCoy (1973)
- Johnny Rodriguez (1973)
- The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band (1974)
- Yvette Horner (1977)
- Madness (1980, 1986)
- Dolly Parton (1982)
- Def Leppard (1989)
- The Mike Flowers Pops (1996)
- Junior Kimbrough (2002)
- Akira Kobayashi & Four Beat Paradise (2005)
- George Canyon (2007)
- Jerry Lee Lewis with Gillian Welch (2010)
- Alexander Stenerud (2010 on the Norwegian show: Beat for Beat)
- Tokyo Jihen (2010 ULTRA C Live Tour, lead vocals by Ukigumo)
- Lyle Lovett (duet with k.d. lang (2012) in album Release Me)
In popular culture
In 1994, an instrumental version of the song was adopted as the theme music to British sketch show The Fast Show. One sketch also featured a performance of the song by comedian Paul Whitehouse as character Kenny Valentine.
In 1997 it featured in an Irish advert for Jacob's Cream Cracker's.
The Engelbert Humperdinck recording was featured in the episode "Going to Pot" of the 1970s British sitcom The Good Life.
Journalist and author Peter Hitchens has described Humperdinck's hugely successful version as "the real revolutionary anthem of the Sixties" and "far more influential than Bob Dylan", drawing a comparison between the song's lyrics and the desire of the public to be released from the social conservatism that had prevailed in society until the 1960s.
A parody version of the song was featured as a B-side to the Def Leppard single Armageddon It, featuring then-guitar tech Malvin Mortimer on lead vocals and the members of Def Leppard providing back-up vocals. Collectively they are billed as Stumpus Maximus and the Good Ol' Boys. The performance is notable for Mortimer's increasing vocal hysteria as the range of the song moves higher and higher, until he's screaming tunelessly. The track was later included as part of the 2006 "deluxe edition" re-issue of the album Hysteria.
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