This Troy Seals and Denny Rice penned song was released in January 1974 as the first single from Conway Twitty's Honky Tonk Angel album. It became Twitty's 10th country chart-topper.
Elvis Presley recorded the song in December 1973 at Stax Records studios in Memphis. First included on his 1975 Promised Land album, the song was released as a single posthumously four years later, peaking at #6 on the Country chart.
One of British star Cliff Richard's producers, Bruce Welch, heard the song and considered that it had potential to return the singer to the upper regions of the UK chart after disappointing performances on the tally over the previous two years. He recorded the song titling it "Honky Tonk Angel" with a string arrangement by Nick Ingman.
Richard was unaware that the phrase "honky-tonk angel" was used in America as a synonym for "prostitute." A fan expressed surprise that he had chosen to cover the song, given his Christian beliefs, which led to the singer deciding to withdrawal the record. He recalled to Mojo in 2017:
"I'd gone to do a Christian meeting and one girl had said, 'Your new record it's about a prostitute.' I phoned my manager, Peter Gormley, 'is this true?' He phoned America. It turned out a honky tonk angel was the name given to someone you might pick up at a bar. I pulled away from it. But it's on my jukebox now and I listen to it for what it is. It's a great record."
Cliff Richard's "Honky Tonk Angel" can be found as a bonus track on the 2001 CD release of I'm Nearly Famous and on the 2002 official compilations: The Singles Collection.