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"Fever" is a song written by Eddie Cooley and Otis Blackwell, who used the pseudonym John Davenport. It was originally recorded by American R&B singer Little Willie John in 1956 and released as a single in April of the same year. The song managed to top the Billboard R&B Best Sellers in the US and peak at number 24 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was received positively by music critics and included on several lists of the best songs during the time it was released.
It has been covered by numerous artists from various musical genres, most notably by Peggy Lee whose rendition became the most widely known version of "Fever" and the singer's signature song. Lee's version contained rewritten lyrics different from the original and an altered music arrangement. It became a top-five hit on the music charts in the UK and Australia in addition to entering the top ten in the US and the Netherlands. "Fever" was nominated in three categories at the 1st Annual Grammy Awards in 1959, including Record of the Year and Song of the Year.
Other notable cover versions of "Fever" include those by Elvis Presley, The McCoys, La Lupe and Madonna. The latter released it as a single from her fifth studio album Erotica (1992) in March 1993 through Warner Bros. It topped the charts in Finland and the Hot Dance Club Songs in the US in addition to charting in the top 50 in many other countries. Madonna promoted "Fever" by filming and releasing a music video directed by Stéphane Sednaoui and performing the song on several television shows as well as her 1993 The Girlie Show World Tour. Various versions of "Fever" by different artists were used in many films, theater plays and television shows.
"Fever" was released as a single in April 1956 and became a double-sided hit along with the top-ten R&B song "Letter from My Darling". "Fever" reached number one for three weeks on the Billboard R&B Best Sellers chart in the United States, peaking at the top on July 21, 1956. It also made the pop charts, peaking at number 24 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song has sold one million copies in the US. In a consumer review, Robert Christgau described Willie John's "Fever" as a very "fervid" song. Bill Dahl from the website AllMusic credited "Fever" for winning the "boisterous teen an across-the-board audience" for Willie John. The writer further opined that the singer's "sweaty case of love-rooted 'Fever' was seemingly grave, judging from his riveting intensity, yet he doesn't sound like he minds at all".
|Little Willie John - Promo Single US 1955|
William Edward John (November 15, 1937 - May 26, 1968), better known by his stage name Little Willie John (sometimes abbreviated LWJ), was an American Rock and Roll, and R&B singer who performed in the 1950s and early 1960s. He is best known for his popular music chart successes with songs such as, "All Around the World" (1955), "Need Your Love So Bad" (1956) and "Fever" the same year, the latter covered in 1958 by Peggy Lee.
He was born in Cullendale, Arkansas, one of ten children; many sources erroneously give his middle name as Edgar. His family moved to Detroit, Michigan when he was four, so that his father could pursue factory work. In the late 1940s, the eldest children, including Willie, formed a gospel singing group, and Willie also performed in talent shows, which brought him to the notice of Johnny Otis and, later, musician and producer Henry Glover. After seeing him sing with the Paul "Hucklebuck" Williams orchestra, Glover signed him to a recording contract with King Records in 1955. He was nicknamed "Little Willie" John for his short stature.
|Little Willie John - US EP 1958|
His first recording, a version of Titus Turner's "All Around the World", was a hit, reaching # 5 on the Billboard R&B chart. He followed up with a string of R&B hits, including the original version of "Need Your Love So Bad", written by his elder brother Mertis John Jr. One of his biggest hits, "Fever" (1956) (Pop #24), was more famously covered by Peggy Lee in 1958.
However, John's version alone sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc. Another song, "Talk to Me, Talk to Me" recorded in 1958, reached #5 in the R&B chart and #20 in the Pop chart, and also sold over one million. A few years later it was a hit once again by Sunny & the Sunglows. He also recorded "I'm Shakin'" by Rudy Toombs, "Suffering With The Blues", and "Sleep" (1960) (Pop #13). In all, John made the Billboard Hot 100 a total of fourteen times. A cover version of "Need Your Love So Bad" by Fleetwood Mac was also a hit in Europe.
Another of his songs to be covered was "Leave My Kitten Alone", (1959). The Beatles recorded a version in 1964, intended for their Beatles for Sale album, but it went unreleased until 1995.
He appealed his conviction and was released while the case was reconsidered, during which time he recorded what was intended to be his comeback album, but owing to contractual wrangling and the decline of his appeal, it was not released until 2008 (as Nineteen Sixty Six). Little Willie John died in 1968 at Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla, Washington. Despite counter claims (Rolling Stone had reported that the death occurred after John checked into the prison hospital with pneumonia), the official cause of death was listed in his death certificate as a heart attack.
He was the brother of singer Mable John, who recorded for Motown and Stax, as well as being a member of Ray Charles' Raeletts. His son Keith John is a backing vocalist for Stevie Wonder.
02. I'm Stickin 'With You Baby
03. Do Something For Me
04. Love, Life And Money
05. Suffering With The Blues
06. Dinner Date
07. All Around The World
08. Need Your Love so Bad
09. Young Girl
10. Letter From My Darling
11. I've Got To Go Cry
12. My Nerves
13. Talk to Me, Talk to Me
14. Leave My Kitten Alone
15. Heartbreak (It's Hurtin 'Me )