In a 1990 interview, songwriter
Doc Pomus tells the story of the song being recorded by the Drifters and originally designated as the B-side of the record. He credits
Dick Clark with turning the record over and realizing "Save The Last Dance" was the stronger song. The Drifters' version of the song, released a few months after Ben E. King left the group, would go on to spend three non-consecutive weeks at No. 1 on the
U.S. pop chart, in addition to logging one week atop the
U.S. R&B chart. In the UK The Drifters' recording reached No. 2 in December 1960. This single was produced by
Jerry Leiber and
Mike Stoller, two noted American music producers who at the time had an apprentice relationship with a then-unknown
Phil Spector. Although he was working with Leiber and Stoller at the time, it is unknown whether Spector assisted with the production of this record; however, many Spector fans have noticed similarities between this record and other music he would eventually produce on his own.Damita Jo had a hit with one of the
answer songs of this era called "I'll Save The Last Dance For You".
In the song, the narrator tells his lover she is free to mingle and socialize throughout the evening, but to make sure to save him the dance at the end of the night. During an interview on
Elvis Costello's show Spectacle,Lou Reed, who worked with Pomus, said the song was written on the day of Pomus' wedding while the wheelchair-using groom watched his bride dancing with their guests. Pomus had
polio and at times used crutches to get around. His wife, Willi Burke, however, was a
Broadway actress and dancer. The song gives his perspective of telling his wife to have fun dancing, but reminds her who will be taking her home and "in whose arms you're gonna be."
Garde-moi la dernière danse is the eighth album by European pop star
Dalida. The title song of the album, a French cover of the American hit "Save the Last Dance for Me", was released as a single. The background orchestra music was led by French composer and orchestra leader
Emmylou Harris version
Emmylou Harris covered the song in a country/bluegrass style in 1979, including it on her Blue Kentucky Girl album. Also released as a single, her version reached the top ten on the U.S. country singles chart in mid-1979.
Dolly Parton recorded "Save the Last Dance for Me," releasing it as a single in late November; the song subsequently appeared on Parton's album of 1950s and 60s covers The Great Pretender, released in January 1984. Reaching the top ten on the
country singles chart in late February, the single also crossed over, reaching No. 45 on the
Billboard Hot 100 in the United States.
"Save The Last Dance For Me" was later covered by Canadian
croonerMichael Bublé, and released as the third and final single from his second studio album, It's Time. The song was heavily remixed for its release as a single.
For its release as a single, the song was heavily remixed, with mixes from producers including
Ralphi Rosario and Eddie Baez. All of the chart positions for the single are for each of the remixed versions of the song respectively. The single first peaked at No. 22 on the BillboardHot Dance Club Play Chart in September 2005. After Bublé performed the album version of the song during the closing credits of the film The Wedding Date, this version was released to radio, peaking at No. 5 on the Billboardadult contemporary chart, as well as reaching No. 99 on the
Billboard Hot 100. The music video for the track was once again directed by Noble Jones, who directed the videos for both of the album's previous singles – Home and Feeling Good. The music video was choreographed by Raymondo Chan, a Salsa Latin dance coach and performer. It was shot in Vancouver, Canada.
Paul Anka recorded the song for his 1963 album Songs I Wish I'd Written.
Jerry Lee Lewis recorded a version of the song with
Sun Records on June 12, 1961, in Memphis, Tennessee at Sam Phillips' studio. This version was released on his 1967 album Breathless, and as a single in 1978.
The Swedish group
the Spotnicks recorded an instrumental version of the song (they called "Valentina") for their 1964 album The Spotnicks in Spain.
The Walkmen did a cover of Pussy Cats which included "Save the Last Dance for Me". Also in 1974, Canadians
the DeFranco Family reached No. 18 on the Billboard pop chart with their version of "Save the Last Dance for Me", with lead vocals sung by 14-year-young Tony DeFranco.
John Davidson reached No. 22 on the U.S. Adult Contemporary chart and No. 44 on the Canadian AC chart.
Bruce Willis released a version which appears on his 1989 album, If It Don't Kill You, It Just Makes You Stronger.
The Manhattan Transfer included a version on their 1995 album, Tonin'. As with most other tracks on the album, this recording featured a noted guest singer, this time Ben E. King, who sang principal lead on the original version by The Drifters.
In 2000, Japanese band
The Neatbeats recorded the song for their album Everybody Need!
On his 2000 album I Give My Heart to You,O.C. Smith recorded a version of the song.
In 1960, American female R&B singer
Damita Jo recorded an "
answer record" to "Save the Last Dance for Me". Her song, entitled "I'll Save the Last Dance for You", built around the original song's melody and thus credited to Shuman and Pomus, peaked at No. 22 on the
Billboard Hot 100 pop chart in December 1960.