The song originated in Saint-Léon, France, in 1967. Montagné heard a bird whistling a tune that gave him the first notes of the melody.
Montagné moved to Miami, where he joined his sister, a French teacher. The French musician played blues and rock in New York and Miami clubs and piano bars, and one day he met the music publisher Nicole Damy. During their meeting, Montagné played Damy the song "The Fool," which she was immediately drawn to. However, Montagné did not want to record it at that time.
Belgian-Italian musician, singer and composer Salvatore Adamo became interested in the song and wanted to produce it. He asked Gilbert Montagné to record it, but Montagné initially refused. However, the two eventually agreed to meet and discuss the matter further. Montagné finally agreed to record "The Fool" at the Trident studio in London, supported by Elton John's technical team and Joe Cocker's backing singers. A worldwide success, it reached #1 in 12 countries.