To Be a Lover

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"To Be a Lover"
Billy idol - to be a lover - album cover.jpeg
Single by Billy Idol
from the album Whiplash Smile
Released22 September 1986
GenreNew wave
Songwriter(s)William Bell, Booker T. Jones
Producer(s)Keith Forsey
Billy Idol singles chronology
"Catch My Fall"
"To Be a Lover"
"Don't Need a Gun"
Music video
"To Be a Lover" on YouTube

"To Be a Lover" is a song by Billy Idol from his 1986 album Whiplash Smile. As the album's lead single, it became Idol's second top 10 hit in the US, peaking at No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100[1] and No. 22 on the UK Singles Chart.[2]

The song was co-written (with Booker T. Jones) and originally performed by William Bell as a soul ballad titled "I Forgot to Be Your Lover", released in late 1968 and hitting No. 45 on the Hot 100 and No. 10 on Billboard′s Hot Rhythm & Blues Singles chart in early 1969. This version has since been sampled by Ludacris on his song "Growing Pains" from Word of Mouf, by Jaheim on "Put That Woman First" from Still Ghetto and by Dilated Peoples on the song "Worst Comes to Worst".

In 1977, the song was covered as a more uptempo reggae number by the Jamaican singer George Faith under the amended title of "To Be a Lover (Have Mercy)" for his Lee "Scratch" Perry-produced album also called To Be a Lover.

In 1986, the track was again reworked and became the second high-profile cover Billy Idol released as a single, after 1981's "Mony Mony". Idol would later top the Billboard Hot 100 (No. 7 UK), with a live version of "Mony Mony" in 1987. The single was backed by Whiplash Smile album track "All Summer Single". Two different 12" singles were also released worldwide (1x UK and 1x Australia), featuring the aforementioned track and two extended remixes of "To Be a Lover (Mother of Mercy Mix)" (6:45) and "Rock'n'Roll Mix" (Australia only). The "Mother of Mercy Mix" differs quite significantly from the single version; it is a harder sounding song, with a prominent heavy guitar riff dominating most of the track and an 'interlude' with distorted female groans. It is this version that is featured on the remix compilation album Vital Idol 1987 US/1988 Japan editions. The UK 12" was also released as a limited-edition picture disc.

Formats and track listings[edit]

7": Chrysalis - IDOL 8 (UK)[edit]

  1. "To Be a Lover" (3:50)
  2. "All Summer Single" (4:33)

12": Chrysalis - IDOLX 8 (UK)[edit]

  1. "To Be a Lover (Mother of Mercy Mix)" (6:45)
  2. "To Be a Lover" (3:50)
  3. "All Summer Single" (4:33)
  • Also available as a picture disc (IDOLP 8)

12": Festival Records - X 14449 (Australia)[edit]

  1. "To Be a Lover (Rock N' Roll Mix)" (7:11)
  2. "To Be a Lover (Mother of Mercy Mix)" (6:45)
  3. "All Summer Single" (4:33)


Chart (1986) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[3] 3
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[4] 2
US Billboard Hot 100[1] 6


  1. ^ a b "Billy Idol | Awards". AllMusic. 1955-11-30. Retrieved 2014-04-09.
  2. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 266. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  3. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  4. ^ " Billy Idol "To Be A Lover"" (ASP). Hung Medien. Recording Industry Association of New Zealand. Retrieved 17 May 2017.

External links[edit]