Bernadette

Album: Reach Out (1967)
Charted: 8 4

Songfacts®:

  • Four Tops lead singer Levi Stubbs delivers a passionate vocal on this song, urging his girl to stick with him and ignore the advances of other men. The song was written by the legendary Motown team of Eddie Holland, Lamont Dozier and Brian Holland (Holland-Dozier-Holland), who wrote most of the hits for the Four Tops, including "Baby I Need Your Loving" and "Reach Out I'll Be There."

    So was there really a "Bernadette"? Yes, and more than one. Dozier explained to Hits magazine in 2003: "There were three Bernadettes, and they were all different girls. We sorta kept that to ourselves that we all had our own Bernadette. We always said, we'd never bring a girlfriend's name into the songs. We had this hidden thing when the name came up, so we didn't say anything. So at least two of us were thinking about the Bernadettes we knew."

    In Dozier's case, "Bernadette" was inspired by his unrequited love for a girl when he was 12; a "beautiful Italian girl with eyes for somebody else."
  • Levi Stubbs stood out as one of the most exciting singers on the Motown roster, with a talent for putting his own stamp on a song. He thrived on songs that were difficult to sing, which made him a good fit for Holland-Dozier-Holland.

    In a Songfacts interview with Lamont Dozier, he said: "Levi was a good, dynamic type of singer and he had to stretch singing 'Bernadette' and 'Reach Out.' He had to develop his own feel because although we gave him a demo to practice from and show him the way the song should go, he had to deliver and he had to be dramatic. He took that upon himself, bringing out that dramatic feel of those songs."
  • On a 2009 episode of the TV show The Big Bang Theory, the character Howard performs an altered version of this song for his girlfriend Bernadette to apologize for prematurely proposing to her. The song goes over quite well, as she finds it romantic. The song also appeared in a 1991 episode of Quantum Leap and in the 2007 movie Zodiac.

Comments: 2

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn February 19th 1967, the Four Tops performed "Bernadette" on the CBS-TV program 'The Ed Sullivan Show'...
    Two weeks later on March 5th it entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #65; and on April 2nd it peaked at #4 (for 2 weeks) and spent 10 weeks on the Top 100 (and for 5 of those 10 weeks is was on the Top 10)...
    It reached #3 on Billboard's R&B Singles chart...
    On the Sullivan show it was performed as a medley with their two Top 100 #1 records; "Reach Out, I'll Be There," (for 2 weeks) and "I Can't Help Myself" (for 2 weeks)...
    (Personal note: When I first heard it on the radio I thought the title was "Burnt To Death").
  • Bill from Pensacola, FlThis is the song that shows what a powerhouse Levi Stubbs was. The climax of this song brings shivers.
    This group of course had litterly dozens of great songs. This is my favorite.
    I got to see Levi and the group perform this song and all their hits.
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