Ring My Bell

Album: Songs Of Love (1979)
Charted: 1 1

Songfacts®:

  • Back when telephones had actual bells, if you asked someone to "ring my bell," it meant to give that person a call. Or it could refer to getting down and dirty in the bedroom.

    The lyric implies the latter, with Anita Ward telling her man the night is young and "full of possibilities," and letting him know he can ring her bell. In the opening line, she says, "I'm glad you're home," so he would have no need to call her, right?

    Despite the evidence, Ward has always stayed on script in denying there is any sexual connotation in the song. "I've had people ask me many times, 'What does that song really mean?'" She told the Memphis Downtowner in 2018. "And I said, 'Whatever you want it to mean.' But it was just a simple love song. Totally innocent."
  • This disco classic was written by Ward's producer, Frederick Knight, known for his 1972 hit "I've Been Lonely For So Long." He originally intended it for 11-year-old Stacy Lattisaw, but when she signed with a different label, Ward was asked to sing it instead. She disliked the song and only recorded it as Frederick Knight insisted they needed another dance number on the album.

    According to Knight, it was originally meant to be "a teenybopper type of song about kids talking on the telephone," which was appropriate for Lattisaw's juvenile audience but not suitable for the grown-up disco crowd. With Ward as his new inspiration, Knight overhauled the song with sexy lyrics and a dance beat. In the song, Ward welcomes her man home and invites him to ring her bell - an obvious euphemism for getting in on. But Knight insisted his intentions were wholesome. "Anita is a very clean-cut person," he told Billboard magazine, "so I went to great pains being picky about lyric content. We're trying to build a respectable image for her. The lyric talks about an everyday situation - it's nothing you'd be ashamed of in front of your kids."
  • This was one of the first hit songs to feature a synthesized drum. The hook was the synthesized drum of Frederick Knight, which produced a sound that became copied by many other disco records. Carl Marsh is also credited for his synthesizer work on the album.
  • Anita Ward started out as a gospel singer in Memphis. She was still working as a substitute teacher when this hit the charts. When she got the phone call that "Ring My Bell" had gone Gold, she had no idea it was even being played on the radio. Still oblivious to her whirlwind success, she almost turned down the chance to appear on Wolfman Jack's Midnight Special because she had to teach a class the next morning. Thankfully, she changed her mind and performed this and "Make Believe Lovers" on the show.
  • This song required three studios, four engineers, two remixers and a "midnight mix by Richie Rivera" as well as the production of Frederick Knight to produce its innovative sound. Knight also provided backing vocals.
  • Ward went to #87 with her next single, "Don't Drop My Love," but never returned to the charts.
  • DJ Jazzy Jeff And The Fresh Prince (Will Smith) recorded a rap version in 1991 that made #20 US.
  • Rapper Snoop Dogg disclosed to Clash magazine that this was the first record that he ever bought.
  • This was also a #1 hit on the R&B and Disco charts.
  • Ward didn't realize she was owed royalties for the song until Burger King used it for one of its commercials in the '90s. Her husband thought it was strange she wasn't getting any compensation for the popular ad and contacted the fast food giant to see what was up. It turns out, Knight had sold the song to Malaco Records, who licensed it to Burger King. Ward didn't get a piece of the pie - or in this case, the crispy chicken sandwich - because the label thought she was dead. The very-much-alive singer dug out her contract and realized she was owed 25 percent of all revenues from the song and finally started getting paid.

    The song was also used in a 2018 commercial to promote Walmart's free two-day shipping deal. In the clip, the song plays as delivery people ring customers' doorbells.
  • This earned Ward a Grammy nomination for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance (Dionne Warwick won for "Déjà Vu").
  • This was used in these movies:

    Gloria Bell (2018)
    Cell (2016)
    The Book Of Eli (2010)
    Are We Done Yet? (2007)
    Dahmer (2002)
    Corky Romano (2001)
    Mystery Men (1999)
    The Waterboy (1998)

    And in these TV shows:

    Doom Patrol ("Paw Patrol" -2019)
    Elementary ("Uncanny Valley Of The Dolls" - 2018)
    Everybody Hates Chris ("Everybody Hates Valentine's Day" - 2006)
    Cold Case ("Daniela" - 2004)
  • On the 2019 episode of The Good Place "You've Changed, Man," Maya Rudolph's character enters a disco void and sings along to this song. When "Ring My Bell" was released, many thought it was sung by Rudolph's mother, Minnie Riperton, who had a hit in 1974 with "Lovin' You." She and Ward had similar voices in a very high range. In 1979, they released an album together called Songs Of Love, with Ward's songs on one side and Riperton's on the other.

Comments: 13

  • Babbling Babette from Tulsa OkAnita Ward had a wide vocal range & made this song come alive. When the song was very very new & had just been released in 1979, me & my sister loved it on the radio. We'd listen to the lyrics & realized it was about a young married couple having sex & the girl wants her man give her so much sex that she has an orgasm. Well, that really sparked our interests, until our Dad heard the song on the radio too. When we bought the single 45 rpm later, he hit the roof! He grabbed the record one night off Roxy's turntable & threw it outside into the dog's kennel! We got a good scolding about it. But we snuck around (or is it sneeked) & bought another record. haaa! We loved the record and the beat. It got to #1, but we never heard from Ms. Ward ever again. The Disco Era finally faded away. What memories!
  • Rotunda from Tulsa, OkWow! Back in '79 I was working at a record store in a huge mall when this song hit #1. Honestly, I came to hate this song after a few weeks! Guys would ring the bell on our front counter and say "you can ring mah bell!" In teenage boys it's obnoxious! It's no wonder this woman never had another hit. This song mustive ruined her career, even though it was a huge hit. Her voice was so tinny-sounding and just too sharp for my ears.
  • Larry from Coral Springs, FlI could never stand listening to this song.
  • Rich from Corning, ArWhen this song came out, I was a dj at a small am radio station in northeast arkansas, we were told that Ms Ward was a Memphis schoolteacher when she released this song. If that was true or not we didnt know but we said it anyway. Our am station was only 1000 watts so its not like we were going nationwide , KCCB Corning Ar
  • Paul from Washington Dc, DcAmazingly, I don't recall anyone at school poking fun at this song. I mean, even the jocks and freaks who hated disco got a kick out of it.
  • Mike from Matawan, Nj"Clean"? "Amazingly wholesome"??? This song is about a female asking her b/f to help her to reach orgasm!" They're married, so in the eyes of the Lord, all is groovey.
  • Splat from Austin, TxThe bass guitar is the best part of this song. Absolutely brilliant. Plus, the percussion sounds so real that it's hard to imagine that it's a drum machine. Good work, Frederick K. and Anita W. (and the guitarists and bass player).
  • Martin from London, England"Clean"? "Amazingly wholesome"??? This song is about a female asking her b/f to help her to reach orgasm!
  • Reinjan from Groningen, NetherlandsAlso covered by The Blood Sisters (Reggae), ending up in the Grand Theft Auto San Andreas Soundstrack, Ann Lee, DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince, Tori Amos, Dynamic Duo, D'Flow Production Squad, Collette, Saïan Supa Crew, INOJ, Pato Fu and Joey Boy
  • Andrew from Birmingham, United StatesFor some reason, Anita Ward sounds like a southern opera star in this song - like a southern version of Petula Clark. Why is that? That doesn't sound much like the others that made their disco hits. Anyway, this song is pretty good; it's CLEAN! Thank you, Anita! You seem to be one of a few. God bless Anita Ward!!
  • Mark from Lancaster, OhMarvelous song. No, it's not about drugs, and they're a married couple, at home. Amazingly wholesome for the times.
  • Annabelle from Eugene, OrWhen I first heard part of this song, after she said, "While I put away the dishes", in the next line, I could've sworn she said something like, "Then you and me, can Rock a Bye". Wouldn't that make more sense? Since Rock a bye actually rhymes with the line, "I guess you did, by the look in your eye."
  • Bobbie from Central, NmWOW! Do you mean that this aint about drugs? LOL
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