"When a Man Loves a Woman" is a song recorded by Percy Sledge in 1966 near Muscle Shoals, Alabama in Sheffield. It made number one on both the Billboard Hot 100 and R&B singles charts. It was listed 54th in the List of Rolling Stone magazine's 500 greatest songs of all time. The sidemen for this recording included Spooner Oldham, organ; Marlin Greene, guitar; Albert "Junior" Lowe, bass and Roger Hawkins, drums. According to the When A Man Loves A Woman Songfacts, Sledge had worked on the song for months before cutting a "final" version. One problem: he was out of tune. Atlantic Records' Jerry Wexler sent the musicians and Sledge back to the studio to recut the song, then accidentally released the off-key version instead.
The song is credited to Calvin Lewis and Andrew Wright, who played bass and keyboards with Sledge. However, the song was in fact written by Percy Sledge himself, but he gave it to Lewis and Wright. (Sledge said this in an interview in the program series "The Sixties" on Swedish Television in 2008.)
It was later remade by Michael Bolton in 1991, whose version also reached number one on the U.S. pop and adult contemporary singles charts (Bolton also received a Grammy Award for this song). Barbara Mandrell recorded a Country version of the song that same year. The song has also been recorded by Art Garfunkel and Luba.
Sledge's version was also a top ten hit in the UK peaking at number four on its initial release and peaking at number two in 1987 after it was featured in a Levi's Jeans commercial. The song makes use of a commonly used descending bass line chord progression as in Bach's "Air on the G String".
Other noteworthy versions of the song, besides Michael Bolton's, include renditions by Bette Midler (US #35, 1980, from her movie The Rose), Esther Phillips (US #73, 1966, in a reverse-gender version, "When A Woman Loves A Man"), and Canadian singer Luba. Also notable are versions recorded by country singer Kenny Rogers in 1997 on his multi-million selling album "Always and Forever" and a version by Spencer Davis Group featuring Steve Winwood . A version by Jerry Lee Lewis appears on his "The Hits" album. Australian rock singer Jimmy Barnes released a live version as a single from his 1988 album Barnestorming that was a #3 hit in Australia. It was also recorded by Mae West.
The song was also used at the start of the critically-acclaimed 1992 film The Crying Game.
The song was used in the video game Karaoke Revolution.
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