Album: The Best Of Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs (1960)
Charted: 14 1
Play Video

Songfacts®:

  • Running just 1:38, this is an incredibly compact song, and the shortest ever US #1 hit on the Hot 100. Despite it's brevity, it still tells a story and contains a bridge. The layered vocals help give it more nuance.
  • Group leader Maurice Williams wrote this song one Saturday night in the summer of 1955 at his home in Lancaster, South Carolina. He had a beautiful 15-year-old girl over (Williams was a similar age), but it was 10 O'clock at night, and he couldn't convince her to stay, even just a little bit longer. Her parents were very strict about her curfew, so Williams could only watch as her brother picked her up and drove off.

    Williams quickly wrote down his pleas, which became the song's lyric. He didn't think much of it, but four years later when he had his own group, Maurice Williams & the Zodiacs, they needed a B-side for a single called "Do You Believe," so Williams had them record it. "Stay" got the A-side and went to #1 in November 1960, five years after Williams conceived it.
  • Williams sang the first part of this song; the soaring falsetto that overtakes him was group member Shane Gaston. That section is a huge part of the song's success, making it pop when it came on the radio and leading many singers to attempt it in vain.
  • This song lends itself well to falsetto singers: The Four Seasons hit #16 in the US with their version featuring the high vocal range of Frankie Valli. In 1978, Jackson Browne hit #20 with this song as a single released with "The Load-Out," which was a tribute to his roadies. Browne often ends his concerts with the "Stay" following "The Load-Out," and that's how his Running On Empty album ends. On Browne's version, the falsetto vocals are David Lindley and the female vocals are Rosemary Butler.

    The Four Seasons kept the song short, at 1:53, but Browne stretched it to 3:15.
  • The group barely dented the Hot 100 after "Stay" - their only other entries were "Come Along" (#83) and "Here In My Heart" (#86), both in 1961. But Williams has another huge hit to his credit as a songwriter: "Little Darlin'," which went to #2 for a white group called The Diamonds in 1957. That one was inspired by the same girl and first recorded by Williams' group when they were known as The Gladiolas.

Comments: 5

  • Ian from Riverside, CaliforniaI agree with Bri from Orange.
  • Dan From Cali from California Interesting Latin beat to the song. Is that a cha-cha?
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn February 9th 1964, the Four Seasons' covered version of "Stay" entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #81; and on March 29th it peaked at #16 (for 1 week) and spent 11 weeks on the Top 100...
    The same week that "Stay" entered the Top 100, the Four Seasons' "Dawn (Go Away)" was at #11.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn December 26th, 1960, Maurice Williams & the Zodiacs performed "Stay" on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
    Three months earlier on October 3rd it entered the Billboard's Hot Top 100 and on November 21st, 1960 it peaked at #1 (for 1 week) and spent 18 weeks on the Top 100...
    The record at #2 was Elvis' "Are You Lonesome Tonight", which the week before was at #35, so it was no surprise that "Stay" only remained at #1 for one week.
  • Bri from Orange, CaThis song reminds me of being with a boy or girl you like and u don't want leve them
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Wherefore Art Thou Romeo Lyric

Wherefore Art Thou Romeo LyricMusic Quiz

In this quiz, spot the artist who put Romeo into a song lyric.

How The Beatles Crafted Killer Choruses

How The Beatles Crafted Killer ChorusesSong Writing

The author of Help! 100 Songwriting, Recording And Career Tips Used By The Beatles, explains how the group crafted their choruses so effectively.

Kevin Godley

Kevin GodleySongwriter Interviews

Kevin Godley talks about directing classic videos for The Police, U2 and Duran Duran, and discusses song and videos he made with 10cc and Godley & Creme.

AC/DC

AC/DCFact or Fiction

Does Angus really drink himself silly? Did their name come from a sewing machine? See if you can spot the real stories about AC/DC.

Gentle Giant

Gentle GiantSongwriter Interviews

An interview with Ray and Derek Shulman of the progressive rock band Gentle Giant to discuss counterpoint, polyrhythms, and... Bon Jovi.

He Hit Me (And It Felt Like A Kiss): A History Of Abuse Pop

He Hit Me (And It Felt Like A Kiss): A History Of Abuse PopSong Writing

Songs that seem to glorify violence against women are often misinterpreted - but not always.