Walking on the Chinese Wall

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"Walking on the Chinese Wall"
Walking On The Chinese Wall by Philip Bailey vinyl single cover.jpg
Single by Philip Bailey
from the album Chinese Wall
B-side"Children of the Ghetto (6:49)"
ReleasedUSA: 1985
UK: 1985
Songwriter(s)Roxanne Seeman & Billie Hughes
Producer(s)Phil Collins
Philip Bailey singles chronology
"Photogenic Memory"
"Walking on the Chinese Wall"
"State of the Heart"

[1]"Walking on the Chinese Wall" is a song written by Roxanne Seeman and Billie Hughes. It was recorded by Philip Bailey. "Walking On The Chinese Wall" was the last song chosen for the album. It became the title track of Philip Bailey's Chinese Wall album.

Phil Collins produced, played drums and sang, as part of the backgrounds, on the recording, however the song was not credited as a Bailey and Collins duet. Josie James also sang background vocals on the song. The Phenix Horns and additional overdub recording took place in Los Angeles, with George Massenburg engineering and mixing.

"Walking on the Chinese Wall" was the third single, released in 1985.

In 1998, Sony Germany released a Philip Bailey compilation album entitled "Walking on the Chinese Wall."

July 2018, Phil Collins announced the release of a career-spanning four album box set, "Plays Well With Others", a collection of recordings by artists with whom he collaborated and played with including Robert Plant, Eric Clapton, Quincy Jones, Tony Bennett, Paul McCartney, and Philip Bailey among them. Phil Collins produced, played drums, keyboards, and sang on "Walking On The Chinese Wall", which appears on the second album, track #4. "Plays Well With Others", was timed for release on September 28 with the launch of Collins "Not Dead Yet Tour".


Seeman and Hughes met and began writing songs together just after Seeman returned from a three-week journey through China. Soon after, Hughes went to Osaka to perform, staying in Japan for four months. Upon his return, they began a partnership and bought recording equipment. The first song Hughes composed on the new Oberheim OB8 synthesizer and DMX drum machine was inspired with a feeling of the East, for which Hughes asked Seeman to "write me something Chinese". Seeman spent several months writing the lyrics. Reflecting on her travels through China, after having walked on the Northern Gate of The Great Wall, outside Beijing, Seeman came up with the hookline "Walking on the Chinese Wall" for the chorus. Seeman drew from her studies of Chinese arts, literature, and philosophy, making references to the I Ching ("Book of Changes") and the I Ching coins in the second line of the chorus "watching for the coins to fall" and to the Dream of the Red Chamber (one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature), in the bridge lyrics "Red chamber dream, from the sky above, ancient tales of hidden Chinese love."[2]


Seeman sent the song to Philip Bailey in Colorado on a Monday, and then flew to New York with Hughes. From New York on the following Friday, Seeman called Philip Bailey, who replied, "I've reviewed all my material and I'm going to cut that song." Bailey asked Seeman and Hughes to meet him with a chord chart at JFK airport, where he would be changing planes on his way to London to record with Phil Collins at The Townhouse. At the airport, Hughes gave Bailey the chord chart, which he had written out with a gold-ink pen, and Seeman gave Bailey another cassette of the song, along with the Sony Walkman it was in.


The video for "Walking On The Chinese Wall" was directed by Duncan Gibbins. It was produced by Beth Broday and Steven Buck. Filming took place in the Santa Monica mountains in an attempt to capture "natural mystery and age-old beauty of the Chinese countryside."[3]

Chart performance[edit]

Country Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report) [4] 26
Netherlands [5] 25
New Zealand [6] 18
UK Singles Chart 34
US Billboard Hot 100 46
US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks 56



Recorded at the Townhouse Studios, London, England. Horns recorded in Los Angeles. Mixed at The Complex, Los Angeles, California.

Televised performances[edit]

Live performances[edit]

A clip from Bailey's live performance in American Bandstand appeared in Dick Clark's American Bandstand's 33-1/3 Celebration.

Other performances[edit]

  • Dick Clark's "Summer Rock 'n Roll"
  • ESPN Beach Special
  • Fantastico Brazil

Cover versions[edit]

  • The "Young Talent Team" from the Australian television variety program, "Young Talent Time" recorded a cover version on their "Young Talent Team Now and Then 15th Anniversary Album."
  • The Italian dance artist Indiana released a Spanish version produced by Christiano Malgioglio in the summer of 1992.
  • The Eurodance group Double You included a dance version of "Walking On The Chinese Wall" on their hit 1990's album.

In September 2004, Alicia Keys headlined the first pop concert in history staged on the Great Wall of China. Performers included Boyz II Men, Cyndi Lauper, Nellie McKay, Sylvia Tosun and Doyle Bramhall II. Billie Hughes and Roxanne Seeman's song "Walking On The Chinese Wall" by Philip Bailey produced by Phil Collins was the finale of the event.

An excerpt from the song was frequently used on the Ricky Gervais radio show on XFM. Karl Pilkington's obsession with the Chinese led to the use of the word 'Chinese' lifted from the song in the groundbreaking segment, 'Songs of Phrase'. Examples include, "There's this hairy Chinese kid" and "I know you're just sixteen, but looking all of twenty-one, that's because the Chinese look older".

Versions (14)[edit]

Title (Format) Label Cat# Country Year Walking On The Chinese Wall (12", Maxi) CBS, CBS CBSA 12.6079, A 12-6079 Europe 1985 Walking On The Chinese Wall (7") CBS BA 3273 Australia 1984 Walking On The Chinese Wall (7") CBS BA 223273 New Zealand 1984 Walking On The Chinese Wall (7", Single) CBS, CBS CBSA 6079, A 6079 Euro pe 1984 Walking On The Chinese Wall (12") CBS CBS 12-6079 US 1985 Walking On The Chinese Wall (12", Maxi) CBS CBS A 12.6079 Spain 1985 Walking On The Chinese Wall (12", Maxi) CBS, CBS CBSA 12.6079, A 12-6079 Spain 1985 Walking On The Chinese Wall (12", Single) CBS TA 6202 UK 1985 Walking On The Chinese Wall (7") Columbia 38-04826 Canada 1985 Walking On The Chinese Wall (7") CBS A 6202 UK 1985 Walking On The Chinese Wall (7") Columbia 38-04826 US 1985 Walking On The Chinese Wall (7", Promo, Single) Columbia 38-04826 US 1985 Walking On The Chinese Wall (7", Single) CBS CBSA 6079 Italy 1985 Walking On The Chinese Wall (12") CBS TA6202 UK Unknown


  1. ^ The 3rd Annual Black Gold Awards, retrieved 2019-10-31
  2. ^ Inc, Nielsen Business Media (2002-03-16). Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc.
  3. ^ Inc, Nielsen Business Media (1985-04-06). Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc.
  4. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  5. ^ http://www.australian-charts.com/showitem.asp?interpret=Philip+Bailey&titel=Walking+On+The+Chinese+Wall&cat=s
  6. ^ http://www.australian-charts.com/showitem.asp?interpret=Philip+Bailey&titel=Walking+On+The+Chinese+Wall&cat=s