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"Need Your Love So Bad"
Single by Little Willie John
B-side"Home at Last"
Released1955 (1955)
RecordedNew York City, September 28, 1955
Genre Blues, rhythm & blues
Label King
  • William Edward John a.k.a. Little Willie John
  • Mertis John Jr.

"Need Your Love So Bad", sometimes known as "I Need Your Love So Bad", is a song first recorded by Little Willie John in 1955. Called a "unique amalgam of gospel, blues and rhythm & blues", [1] it was John's second single as well as his second record to reach the US charts.

The song is one of John's best known and appears on various compilation albums. Several other artists have also recorded renditions of the song.

Composition and recording

"Need Your Love So Bad" follows an AABA form and a harmonic layout typical for the R&B ballad. [2] However, the song has been described as "A tightly wound and intense plea for love ... quite different from the usual R&B ballad fare". [3]

John recorded the song in New York City on September 20, 1955. [3] He provides the vocal, accompanied by Robert "Bubber" Johnson on piano, Mickey Baker on guitar, Milton Hinton on bass, Calvin Shields on drums, Willis Jackson and David Van Dyke on tenor saxes, and Reuben Phillips on baritone sax. [3]

Songwriting credits and releases

There are differing accounts of the songwriting credits. The original King Records release lists the writer as "Willie John" as do the original Blue Horizon and CBS Records singles by Fleetwood Mac. However, some compilations show the writer as Mertis John, Willie's brother. [4] [5] A 2001 biography of Little Willie John includes:

Mertis Jr wrote much of the song in Korea, and brought it to Willie, who worked on it and eventually finished it off. Clearly, Willie's indelible stamp is on that tune, and Mertis restored Willie's name as co-writer in 2008. [1]

The American performing rights organization BMI attributes the song to both William Edward John and Mertis John Jr. (Little Willie's and his brother's legal names). [6]

King Records released John's single, which reached No. 5 on the Billboard R&B in 1956 [7] and the B-side "Home at Last" reached No. 6 in the same chart. [7] As one of John's most popular tunes, it has been included on various compilation albums, such as Fever: The Best of Little Willie John (1993) [8] and The Very Best of Little Willie John (2001). [9]

Renditions by other artists

Irma Thomas

New Orleans R&B and soul blues singer Irma Thomas recorded the song as "I Need Your Love So Bad". Described as "deeply soulful", it first appeared on her 1964 album Wish Someone Would Care on Imperial Records. [10] H. B. Barnum provided the arrangement, with the production duties handled by Eddie Ray. [11] Album liner notes list the songwriter as "H. Dunham"; [11] later compilations that include the song, such as Time Is on My Side (1983, Kent Records) show the composer as "John".

Fleetwood Mac

"Need Your Love So Bad"
Single by Fleetwood Mac
B-side" Stop Messin' Round"
ReleasedJuly 5, 1968
RecordedLondon, April 28, 1968 (string & horn overdubs May 15)
StudioCBS Studio
Genre Blues
Label Blue Horizon
  • William Edward John a.k.a. Little Willie John
  • Mertis John Jr.
Producer(s)Mike Vernon
Fleetwood Mac singles chronology
" Black Magic Woman" "Need Your Love So Bad" " Albatross"

In 1968, Fleetwood Mac recorded "Need Your Love So Bad" for producer Mike Vernon's Blue Horizon Records. [12] According to Vernon, he suggested to group guitarist and vocalist Peter Green that a string section be added. [12] Vernon contacted Mickey Baker, who provided the guitar on John's original version, to write an orchestral score for the song. [12]

The song was released as a single, backed with " Stop Messin' Round", and reached No. 31 on the UK Singles Chart in August 1968, [13] and No. 7 in the Netherlands. [14] Later in the UK, it was reissued as a single by Blue Horizon (designated as the A-side with "No Place to Go" as the B-side) [15] and CBS as part of its "Hall of Fame Hits" series (designated as the B-side with " Albatross" as the A-side). [16]

The song is included on several Fleetwood Mac compilation albums, including The Pious Bird of Good Omen (1969), [17] Greatest Hits (1971), [18] and others. In 1999, The Complete Blue Horizon Sessions 1967–1969 was released with additional takes of the song. One included additional guitar and vocal overdubs by Green that was planned for an American single, but never issued. [12]

Gary Moore

In 1995, guitarist and singer Gary Moore recorded the song for Blues for Greeny (1995), a tribute album to Peter Green, who sang and played guitar on Fleetwood Mac's rendition. Moore's version was also released as a single in June 1995 and reached No. 48 on the UK Singles Chart. [19]


  1. ^ a b Whitall, Susan (2011). Fever: Little Willie John. London: Titan Books. p. 60. ISBN  978-0857687968.
  2. ^ Appen, Ralf von / Frei-Hauenschild, Markus "AABA, Refrain, Chorus, Bridge, Prechorus — Song Forms and their Historical Development". In: Samples. Online Publikationen der Gesellschaft für Popularmusikforschung/German Society for Popular Music Studies e.V. Ed. by Ralf von Appen, André Doehring and Thomas Phleps. Vol. 13 (2015), p. 31, 35.
  3. ^ a b c Grendysa, Peter A. (1993). Fever: The Best of Little Willie John (liner notes). Rhino Records. p. 1. R2 71511.
  4. ^ Wynn, Ron. "Little Willie John: Fever – Review". AllMusic. Retrieved August 26, 2020.
  5. ^ Tapp, Richard. "Little Willie John". Ace Records. Archived from the original on September 23, 2006. Retrieved August 26, 2020.
  6. ^ "BMI Repertoire: "Need Your Love So Bad" (BMI Work #1052543)". BMI. Retrieved August 26, 2020.
  7. ^ a b Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942–2004. Record Research. p. 228.
  8. ^ Wynn, Ron. "Fever: The Best of Little Willie John – Review". AllMusic. Retrieved December 22, 2014.
  9. ^ Phares, Heather. "The Very Best of Little Willie John". AllMusic. Retrieved August 26, 2020.
  10. ^ Planer, Lindsay. "Wish Someone Would Care/Take a Look — Review". AllMusic. Retrieved July 11, 2023.
  11. ^ a b Wish Someone Would Care (Album notes). Irma Thomas. Los Angeles: Imperial Records. 1964. Back cover. LP-9266.{{ cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) ( link)
  12. ^ a b c d Vernon, Mike (1999). The Complete Blue Horizon Sessions 1967–1969 (Boxed set booklet). Fleetwood Mac. New York City: Sire Records. pp. 8–9. 73003-2.
  13. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 205. ISBN  1-904994-10-5.
  14. ^ "Top 40 week 44 van 1968". Retrieved April 29, 2021.
  15. ^ Fleetwood Mac. "Need Your Love So Bad" / "No Place to Go" (Single notes). England: Blue Horizon Records. Label. 57-3157.
  16. ^ Fleetwood Mac. "Albatross" / "Need Your Love So Bad Need Your Love So Bad" (Single notes). England: CBS. Label. CBS 8306.
  17. ^ The Pious Bird of Good Omen at AllMusic
  18. ^ Greatest Hits at AllMusic
  19. ^ "Gary Moore – Singles". Official Charts. Retrieved August 26, 2020.