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Smokey Robinson wrote this song, and it was originally recorded by his group The Miracles in 1960. The most famous version of the song is by The Jackson 5, and Michael Jackson's vocal performance was one of his early career highlights. At Jackson's memorial service on July 7, 2009, Smokey Robinson said: "Berry (Gordy) had this gathering at his house. He said, 'Come here, I want you to see somebody very special.' I went over and these 5 young guys were there, and they sang and danced up a storm. A couple weeks later they recorded by song. I thought to myself: Now they have pulled a fast one on us, because this boy cannot possibly be 10 years old. This song is about somebody who had somebody who loved them but they treated them bad. They treated them so bad that they lost them, and now they are paying the price of wanting somebody back that they treated bad and lost. How can he possible know these things? I quickly went over to him because I wanted to see his birth certificate. I could not believe that someone that young could have that much feeling and soul. He had to know something to sing a song like that. It was wonderful - as a songwriter that's a dream come true to have someone sing one of your songs like that."
This was released as the B-side of The Jackson 5's first single, "I Want You Back
The Jackson 5 performed this on their first Ed Sullivan Show appearance.
Artists to cover this song include Terence Trent D'Arby, The Temptations, The Supremes and En Vogue.
This song entered the UK Top 75 for the first time in May 2009 following Shaheen Jafargholi's performance of the track on the Britain's Got Talent TV show. A couple of months later the young Brit performed the song at Michael Jackson's memorial service in front of an estimated television audience of one billion people. This prompted the song's return to the UK chart.
by 90's female vocal group En Vogue was written as an answer record to The Miracles' original version. "Hold On"'s intro is the same as this song's' first verse.
John Lee Hooker
Into the vaults for Bruce Pollock's 1984 conversation with the esteemed Bluesman. Hooker talks about transforming a Tony Bennett classic and why you don't have to be sad and lonely to write The Blues.