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Simone releases version of Screamin' Jay Hawkins' classic

Nina Simone

I Put A Spell On You

Released: June 16th, 1965

Tracks Nina Simone

The events we write about at Gaslight Records happened in some form or another 50 years ago to the day. Roll along with us and imagine you are back in 1969.

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Jay Hawkins had initially intended for "I Put A Spell On You" to be a refined love song, a simple blues ballad. He first recorded it in 1955, taking a gentle and traditional vocal approach to the session.

Grand Records declined to release the first version of "I Put A Spell On You".

In 1956, Jay Hawkins re-entered the studio, and after consuming a pile of chicken, ribs and booze, he laid down the version of "I Put A Spell On You" that has since been dubbed a classic. Screamin' Jay Hawkins was born:

"I don't even remember making the record. Before, I was just a normal blues singer. I was just Jay Hawkins. It all sort of just fell in place. I found out I could do more destroying a song and screaming it to death."

The 1956 Screamin' Jay Hawkins version of "I Put A Spell On You" is a wild, almost scary, beast of a song, even now. At the time of its release it was banned by most record stores and radio stations across North America. But even still, the track managed to sell reasonably well (somehow), and it garnered an almost cult status for Hawkins.

Since then, "I Put A Spell On You" has been covered numerous times by artists including Bryan Ferry, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Animals, Annie Lennox, and Bette Midler.

Simone releases version of Screamin' Jay Hawkins' classic
Nina Simone covered the Screamin' Jay Hawkins classic, "I Put A Spell On You" in June 1965.

One of the most notable alternate versions came from Nina Simone. Released on June 18, 1965 (50 years ago today), Simone's version peaked at number 23 on the US Billboard R&B charts.

Simone transformed Hawkins' visceral ballad back into a love song, adding horns and a string section to the mix. It has since become one of Simone's most recognisable songs. She later appropriated the title for her 1992 autobiography.

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