The Show Must Go On (Leo Sayer song)

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"The Show Must Go On"
German vinyl single
Single by Leo Sayer
from the album Silverbird
Released1973 (1973)
2:53 (7" version)
Sayer performing the song on Dutch television (AVRO's TopPop) in 1974
"The Show Must Go On"
The Show Must Go On - Three Dog Night.jpg
Dutch vinyl single
Single by Three Dog Night
from the album Hard Labor
B-side"On the Way Back Home"
Released16 March, 1974 (1974)[1]
Length4:23 (album version)
3:37 (single version)
Producer(s)Jimmy Ienner
Three Dog Night singles chronology
"Let Me Serenade You"
"The Show Must Go On"
"Sure As I'm Sittin' Here"

"The Show Must Go On" is a song co-written by Leo Sayer and David Courtney and first recorded by Sayer. It was released in the United Kingdom in 1973, becoming Sayer's first hit record (reaching its chart peak of #2 in early 1974 in the UK). The song reached #3 on the Irish Singles Chart in January 1974,[2] and was included on Sayer's debut album Silverbird.

The song was covered by Three Dog Night, whose version was released in 1974, becoming a hit in the United States, peaking at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and sung by vocalist Chuck Negron. The record reached #1 on the Cashbox pop chart, #2 on the Canadian RPM Magazine charts, and became their seventh and final Gold Record.

It uses a circus theme as a metaphor for dealing with the difficulties and wrong choices of life. Early in Sayer's career, he performed it dressed and made up as a pierrot clown. Like the album version on Sayer's debut album, Three Dog Night's version also quotes Julius Fučík's "Entrance of the Gladiators" which is commonly associated with circus clowns.

In Sayer's version, the last line of the chorus is "I won't let the show go on". Three Dog Night changed this line to "I must let the show go on", which Sayer has criticized.[3]


Chart performance[edit]

Leo Sayer version[edit]

Three Dog Night version[edit]

Three Dog Night's cover of "The Show Must Go On" became their last Top 10 hit in the U.S., where it reached number four on the Billboard Hot 100 and number one on the Cash Box Top 100, as well as in Canada, where it reached number two. It also reached #11 in the Netherlands and #12 in Germany.

Record World said that "3DN's treatment of this Leo Sayer English smash is a superb example of their interpretive power."[10]

Several AM radio edits have shortened the instrumental introduction, due to time constraints and limitations.

Pasadena Roof Orchestra version[edit]

The Pasadena Roof Orchestra's 1977 album "The Show Must Go On" takes its name from the track, and (in an unusual departure into contemporary music) features their cover version of the song; it was re-released as part of their Jubilee Collection CDs in 2018.


  1. ^ "Cash Box Magazine Record Producers July 6, 1974" (PDF). Retrieved 3 August 2019.
  2. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 483. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  3. ^ Sayer, Leo (8 July 2016). "Leo Sayer on His 'Restless Years' With Hendrix, McCartney and Daltrey (Q&A)". Rock Cellar Magazine (Interview). Interviewed by Frank Mastropolo. Archived from the original on 28 January 2021. Retrieved 2 March 2022.
  4. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  5. ^ "The Irish Charts – All there is to know". Retrieved 3 August 2019.
  6. ^ "SA Charts 1965–March 1989". Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  7. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 50 | Official Charts Company". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 10 October 2016.
  8. ^ "National Top 100 Singles for 1974". Kent Music Report. 30 December 1974. Retrieved 15 January 2022 – via Imgur.
  9. ^ " – Forum – Top 100 End of Year AMR Charts – 1980s (ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts)". Retrieved 3 August 2019.
  10. ^ "Hits of the Week" (PDF). Record World. 16 March 1974. p. 1. Retrieved 17 March 2023.
  11. ^ "Google Translate". Retrieved 3 August 2019.
  12. ^ Top 40, Stichting Nederlandse. "Three Dog Night – The Show Must Go On". Retrieved 3 August 2019.
  13. ^ "Flavour of New Zealand – search listener". Retrieved 10 October 2016.
  14. ^ "Lyrics: The Show Must Go On by Three Dog Night". 16 March 1974. Retrieved 10 October 2016.
  15. ^ "Top 100 1974-05-11". Cashbox Magazine. Retrieved 3 November 2014.
  16. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1974/Top 100 Songs of 1974". Retrieved 10 October 2016.
  17. ^ "Top 100 Year End Charts: 1974". Cashbox Magazine. Retrieved 28 May 2015.
  18. ^ "RPM – Library and Archives Canada | RPM – Bibliothèque et Archives Canada". Archived from the original on 1 August 2016. Retrieved 10 October 2016.
  19. ^ "Jaaroverzichten – Single 1974" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Hung Medien. Retrieved 2 March 2018.
  20. ^ "American single certifications – Three Dog Night – The Show Must Go On". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 14 February 2019.


External links[edit]

Media related to The Show Must Go On (Leo Sayer song) at Wikimedia Commons