Superstar (Delaney and Bonnie song)

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Single by Delaney & Bonnie
A-side"Comin' Home"
Released1969 (1969)

"Superstar" is a 1969 song written by Bonnie Bramlett and Leon Russell, that has been a hit for many artists in different genres in the years since. The best-known versions are by the Carpenters in 1971, and by Luther Vandross in 1983.

Original Delaney and Bonnie version[edit]

Rita Coolidge came up with the song idea, based on observing the relationships of female groupies with rock stars in the late 1960s.[1]

In its first recorded incarnation, the song was called "Groupie (Superstar)", and was released in December 1969 as the B-side of the Delaney & Bonnie single "Comin' Home". Released by Atco Records in the United States and Atlantic Records in the rest of the world, the full credit on the single was "Delaney & Bonnie and Friends featuring Eric Clapton".

"Comin' Home" reached number 84 on the US pop singles chart, although it achieved a peak of sixteen on the UK Singles Chart.

The original version of "Superstar" finally surfaced in 1972, when the album D&B Together was released, shortly before Delaney and Bonnie's marriage and collaboration ended. That version was also included as a bonus track on a 2006 reissue of the 1970 album, Eric Clapton.

Bonnie Bramlett later rerecorded the song on her 2002 solo album, I'm Still the Same. Using just the "Superstar" title, she rendered it as a very slow, piano-based torch song.


(Taken from the liner notes of the 2006 Deluxe Edition of the Eric Clapton album):

Produced by Delaney Bramlett, recorded at A&M Studios, Los Angeles, September 27 – October 10, 1969.

Carpenters version[edit]

Picture sleeve for U.S. vinyl single
Single by Carpenters
from the album Carpenters
B-side"Bless the Beasts and Children"
ReleasedAugust 12, 1971 (1971-08-12)
RecordedFebruary 1971
Producer(s)Jack Daugherty
Carpenters singles chronology
"Rainy Days and Mondays"
"Bless the Beasts and Children"

"Superstar" became most popular after its treatment by the Carpenters. Richard Carpenter became aware of the song after watching Bette Midler sing it on the February 15, 1971 edition of The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.[1]

Produced by Richard Carpenter with Jack Daugherty, it was recorded using members of the Wrecking Crew, a famed collection of Los Angeles-area session musicians. Because the original subject matter of the song was more risqué than was typical for the Carpenters, Richard changed a lyric in the second verse from "And I can hardly wait/To sleep with you again" to the less suggestive "And I can hardly wait/To be with you again."[3] The track was finished in one take.[4]

Karen Carpenter's vocal was praised for its intensity and emotional nature. David Hepworth commented: "Even with only half her mind on the job, she delivered a perfect performance. The guide vocal never needed to be replaced."[5]

The duo's rendition was included on the May 1971 album Carpenters, and then released as a single in August 1971, rising to number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 pop singles chart, held out of the top spot by Rod Stewart's "Maggie May". It spent two weeks at number one on the Easy Listening chart that autumn, earning gold record status.[6] It reached number 18 on the UK pop singles chart and charted in Australia and New Zealand as well.

Richard was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist for the song. "Superstar" would go on to appear on two mid-1970s Carpenters live albums as well as on many compilation albums, including the 2004 SACD compilation The Singles: 1969–1981 (not to be confused with the regular CD, The Singles: 1969–1981) as a remix of the original 1973 mix on the similarly titled compilation The Singles: 1969–1973.


Chart performance[edit]

Luther Vandross version[edit]

Single by Luther Vandross
from the album Busy Body
Released1983 (1983) (US, Canada)
Length5:32 (single edit version)
  • Luther Vandross
  • Larkin Arnold (exec.)
Luther Vandross singles chronology
"I'll Let You Slide"
"Til My Baby Comes Home"

In the early 1980s, American R&B/soul singer-songwriter Luther Vandross had "Superstar" in his stage act, sometimes in a rendition that stretched to 12 minutes, with vocal interpolations and an interpretive dancer.

Vandross then recorded "Superstar" in 1983 in a slower, more soulful fashion, as part of a medley with Stevie Wonder's "Until You Come Back to Me (That's What I'm Gonna Do)" on his album Busy Body. Released as a single the following year, it became an R&B hit, reaching number 5 on the Billboard Top R&B Singles chart.[15] It did not have much pop crossover effect, however, only reaching number 87 on the Billboard Hot 100.


Chart (1984) Peak
US Billboard Hot 100 87
US Billboard Hot R&B Singles 5

Ruben Studdard version[edit]

Second-season American Idol contestant Ruben Studdard found his melismatic, R&B groove early in the Final 12 rounds when he performed a Vandross-influenced "Superstar". It got rave reviews from the judges and established Studdard as one of the early leaders in the competition, a position he held through his narrow May 2003 win over second-place finisher Clay Aiken.

By now his signature song, Studdard recorded "Superstar" as the B-side of his June 2003 first single and number two hit, "Flying Without Wings". Studdard earned a 2004 Grammy Award nomination for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance for "Superstar", but he lost to his own idol, Vandross, who won for "Dance with My Father". Studdard's treatment was also included on his December 2003 debut album, Soulful.

Other notable versions[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Hepworth, David (2016). Never a Dull Moment: 1971 - The Year That Rock Exploded. New York: Henry Holt and Company. pp. 35–36. ISBN 9781627793995. LCCN 2015042610. OCLC 922168849. Archived from the original on 2022-01-01.
  2. ^ Bolger, Keely (2015). "The Carpenters - "Superstar". In Dimery, Robert (ed.). 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die. New York: Universe. p. 297.
  3. ^ Black, Johnny (October 2002). "The Greatest Songs Ever! Superstar". Blender. Archived from the original on October 18, 2004. Retrieved February 19, 2008.
  4. ^ Eder, Bruce (2002). "The Carpenters / May 1971 / A&M". In Bogdanov, Vladimir; Woodstra, Chris; Erlewine, Stephen Thomas (eds.). All Music Guide to Rock: The Definitive Guide to Rock, Pop, and Soul (3rd ed.). San Francisco: Backbeat Books. p. 185. ISBN 087930653X. Archived from the original on February 18, 2011.
  5. ^ Hepworth 2016, p. 37.
  6. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961-2001. Record Research. p. 47.
  7. ^ "RPM Top 100 Singles - October 23, 1971" (PDF).
  8. ^ "RPM Top AC Singles - October 30, 1971" (PDF).
  9. ^ "Top 100 1971-10-16". Cashbox Magazine. Retrieved 2016-03-05.
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-10-20. Retrieved 2016-10-02.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1971/Top 100 Songs of 1971". Retrieved 2016-10-03.
  12. ^ Billboard, December 25, 1971.
  13. ^ "Top 100 Year End Charts: 1971". Cashbox Magazine. Retrieved 2016-05-30.
  14. ^ Harvey, Eric (May 19, 2012). "The Quiet Storm". Pitchfork. Retrieved October 11, 2022.
  15. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 597.
  16. ^ Luther Vandross - Singles Chart
  17. ^ Christopher Borrelli (2007-08-12). "Sonic Youth broke new ground with 'Daydream Nation'". The Blade. Retrieved 2008-02-27.
  18. ^ Gross, Terry; Carpenter, Richard (November 25, 2009). "'40/40' Celebrates The Carpenters' 1969 Debut". Fresh Air. NPR. Retrieved 22 December 2021.
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External links[edit]