Time Won't Let Me

Album: Greatest Hits (1966)
Charted: 5

Songfacts®:

  • This was the first hit for The Outsiders, who were a Cleveland group that scored three other US Top 40s in 1966. Their lead singer Sonny Geraci was also the lead singer for Climax, a one-hit-wonder with "Precious and Few." Jimmy Fox, who was the drummer on the Outsiders' first album, later formed The James Gang with Joe Walsh. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    David - New York, NY
  • The lineup on "Time Won't Let Me" was vocalist Sonny Geraci, rhythm guitarist Tom King, lead guitar Al Austin, bass Mert Madsen, baritone saxophone Mike Geraci and drummer Ronnie Harkai. (Jimmy Fox was the stickman on some of the Outsiders' other tracks). Mert told us the story of the song: "It all started in 1958 when I joined Tom in his new band called The Starfires, which started a few months before I joined the band in late 58. It took us seven hard working years to get to the time in the fall of 1965 where we cut 'Time Won't Let Me' at the "Cleveland Recording" studio."

    "We could sense that this was not just any tune, but a tune with great hit potential," Mert continues: "So we got hold of the East Coast Manager for Capitol Records, Roger Karhsner, and played the master record for him over the phone. He said right away, 'Hold on, I do believe you guys got a hit on your hands, but I am coming to Cleveland in a few days, and then we will defiantly talk some more.' The rest is history - all the guys on the record made up their own parts music ways, and I arranged the background singers. --- The horns were added on afterwards."
  • Tom King, who co-wrote this song with his cousin, Chet Kelley, passed away on April 25, 2011. He'd been suffering from multiple health problems for a long time. Mert told us that, "he and his brother Don and I were like brothers." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Mert - Espergaerde, Denmark

Comments: 28

  • Curt Crotzer from Santa Barbara, CaCorrect lyric is "...wait that long", not "...wait too long".
  • Ron from Southwest FloridaWho played the lead trumpet on Time Won’t Let Me. Whoever it was he nailed the high notes. Loved that song as a teenager growing up in NE Ohio.
  • Joe from Miami, FlWho played the electric organ on Time won't let me? And What type of Organ was it (Vox, Farfisa)?? I play the song with my band and have a Vox continental and trying to get the sound as close as I can. thanks
  • Ronald Harkai from Grand Rapids, MichiganI consider the intro paragraph demeaning to "The Outsiders" legacy, because it singles out two individuals, and two other bands. How does this accurately describe an "Introduction" to the band as a unit, that made the Hit single, "Time Won't Let Me"? It was not just two people. The actual working, and recording band was, Tom King, Leader, Rhythm Guitar, Background Vocals; Merdin (Mert) Madsen, Bass Guitar, Background Vocals; Al Austin, Lead Guitar, Background Vocals; Sonny Geraci, Lead Vocals; Ronald (Ronnie) Harkai, Drums; Background Vocals. All of us developed, arranged, and performed our parts from scratch. We started with just the lyrics from Tom King, and Chet Kelly. Additionally, Mert Madsen was instrumental in the horn arrangement for the horns overdubbing. This is the original group that recorded the 45RPM singles, Capitol #5573 "Time Won't Let Me"(side A)/"Was It Really Real"(side B) and, Capitol #5701 "Respectable"(side A)/"Lost In My World"(side B). Yes, additional sidemen were involved to create overdubs prior to final mixing. Perhaps this could be covered in another conversation These tunes rose in the charts to #5 on April 16, 1966 for "Time Won't Let", and to #15 on September 3, 1966, for "Respectable". In total in 1966, we had 4 songs in the top 40, "Time Won't Let Me", #5, "Girl In Love", #21, "Respectable" #15, and "Help Me Girl", #37. These are the songs that defined the international prominence of "The Outsiders", not simply the "1st album. Also, your drummer reference in the intro is inaccurate. James Fox did drumming on some tracks, and Ronald Harkai did drumming on other tracks. There is a hidden history for this 1st album, which makes the initial pressing and release more valuable than subsequent pressings of the first album; "The Outsiders', "'Time Won't Let Me", Capitol/EMI T2501. I was there, along with Mert Madsen, these are the facts, Ronald Harkai (Ronnie).
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyPer: http://www.oldiesmusic.com/news.htm
    Sonny Geraci, lead singer of the Outsiders and later, Climax, died Sunday (February 5th, 2017) nearly four years after suffering a brain aneurysm. The Cleveland native was 69. The Outsiders started as a Cleveland band called the Starfires, who changed their name in 1965 when they signed with Capitol Records. They quickly racked up four top 40 hits with "Time Won't Let Me" (#5-1966), "Girl In Love" (#21-1966), "Respectable" (#15-1966) and "Help Me Girl" (#37-1966). Three subsequent singles only "bubbled under" the hot 100 chart, as did another on Bell Records with Sonny and a re-formed Outsiders (the original group had broken up at this point) listing him as lead singer. A legal battle over the name ensued and Sonny changed this new group (now based in Los Angeles) to Climax. In 1970, they recorded "Precious And Few". But the record sat on the shelves for nearly two years before being released by Bell Records' Carousel label, thanks to airplay in Santa Barbara, California. The song zoomed to #3 in early 1972 but the follow-up, "Life And Breath" on Rocky Road Records (same label as Carousel with a different name) only reached #52 that year and Sonny saw his second group disband in 1976. Sonny recorded one album as Peter Emmett before essential leaving music for 25 years. He later returned to play the oldies circuit as both the Outsiders and Climax. He even filled at one point for Rob Grill in the Grass Roots before a 2012 aneurysm ended his career. A tribute concert was held in Streetsboro, Ohio in November of 2013 to help with his medical expenses.
    May he R.I.P.
  • Michael from Akron, OhioMert
    It is really a pleasure for me to contact you, even though I am not sure you will see this or when. But you see I was supposed to meet you in 1966. I was 12 and you were going to visit your brother and his family on E. 105th Street in Cleveland. Somehow I missed your visit. But for the past few weeks I was thrilled every time the song played on the radio, and that was often. The irony here is that your brother would take me upstairs and play for me many of his works of "Richard Wagner", which while I don't remember much about them now apparently would influence me later after the "Beatles" away from rock n roll and toward classical music (including film composer Bernard Herrmann). My family was once close but now I think have lost touch. But thank you (and your brother) for giving me some wonderful music.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn February 13th 1966, "Time Won't Let Me" by the Outsiders entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #100; eight weeks later on April 10th it would peak at #5 {for 2 weeks} and it stayed on the chart for 15 weeks...
    And on April 25th it also reached #5 on the Canadian RPM Singles chart.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn May 8th 1966, "Girl In Love" by the Outsiders entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #87; seven weeks later on June 26, 1966 it would peak at #21 {for 1 week} and spent 9 weeks on the Top 100...
    Was track five of side two from the Cleveland group's debut album, "Time Won't Let Me", and on July 10th, 1966 the album reached #39 on Billboard's Top Albums chart...
    One other track from the album also made the Top 100, "Time Won't Let Me", peaked at #5 {for 2 weeks} on April 10th, 1966 and stay on the chart for 15 weeks...
    They had two other Top 100 records; "Respectable" {#15 in 1966} and "Help Me Girl"* {#37 in 1966}...
    * The Animals also released "Help Me Girl" in 1966; their version peaked at #29 two weeks after the Outsiders reached #37.
  • Sam from Lakewood, OhThis was the go-to song during pitching changes at Cleveland Indians games at Jacobs Field in the 1990s.
  • Nick from Edina, MnMert - I recently heard this song on the radio and was struck by your bass line. It is extremely original and I'm wondering how it came into being.
  • Sherri from W. Palm Beach, FlWas there ever a singer with the Outsiders named Stan McKnight? He claims he sang with the band and did Time Won't Let Me.
  • Marianne from West Creek, Njhello, my name back in the 60's was marianne marino & allen austin was living with me at time he died in the car accident outside of geneva-on-the-lake, ohio. i believe he was 21 & the car he was driving was a rambler. i do have some pics of him i will scan & email to anyone interested or post if i can on this site. one pic is on stage with a singer & drummer but i don't know who they are. also i have a 8mm reel of music (i think) allen gave me that i'll have converted to a cd. marianne e-mail: maresown@hotmail.com

  • Mert from Espergaerde, DenmarkI must corect you From Chas, Boise ID, ---- It most defenantly was NOT Joe Baldassare on Lead Guitar on The original Cut --- in : "Time won´t let me" But --- The Late Al Austin Who were the lead guitaist on that record. --- I most sertanly shuld know --- Cause I -Mert Madsen plaied the bass guitar on that song. --- Make no mistake on that --- cause its a fact !!!!! - Best regards Mert " mad man " madsen :-)
  • Carol from Columbus, OhWhatever happened to the guitarist on that song who went by the name Michael D'Angelo?
  • Travis from Hickory, NcAl austin was the original guitarist in the band and he was my uncle. He died in
    a car accident long before I could ever meet him though. Its good to see mert
    wrote on here and cleared some things up about the original line up of the band.
    I've been told by family that al composed both the intro and the solo in the
    song. Mert if u could write back and let me know a little more about that, I
    would greatly appreciate it.
  • Kim from Tampa, FlIn 1968 The Oustiders played at Walled Lake High School, in Michigan. I met someone with the band, Mike Patterson. I think of him whenever I hear Time Won't Let Me. He left town and I never saw him again. He taught me a very important lesson in life. Anybody know him? kimberelli37@aol.com
  • Raquel from Old Tappan, NjIn 1962 Mert Madsen had just been discharged from the U.S. Army. I met him while the Starfires were playing in a local club in Cleveland, Ohio. Mert told me he was from Denmark. He was kind, tall, handsome and very musically talented. We became friends and I would visit his parent's apartment in Shaker Heights, Ohio. I used to sit in and listen while the band practiced. There was one composition that the band practiced over and over. I can still hear the tune! We separated as friends, when I moved to Tampa, Florida. We never heard from each other again. For years, whenever I saw live bands, I would check to see who was playing bass. I would also check out the rock bands on television. I often wondered what became of the talented Starfires and Mert Madsen. I was pleased to see Mert's comments posted on this web site. Dear Mert, I hope life has been kind and the music has not stopped.
    Raquel Julich
    foreignr@optonline.net

  • Don Ludden from Lincoln, NeThe outsiders had 4 top 40 hits. "Girl In Love" #21. "Help me Girl" #37. "Respectable" # 15 and "Time Won't let me" #5. These were all from 1966.

    Don Ludden Lincoln, Ne.
  • Daniel from Dallas, TxTime Won't Let Me @ #5, Girl In Love @ #21, Respectable @ #15, and Help Me Girl @ #37. All of these hits were released in 1966. That puts The Outsiders in a very elite group of artists that had 4 Top 40 hits in a single year. If you could imagine all of the competition in 1966 of all other great music, it really was quite an accomplishment for any band. And a wonderful year it was! -VINYLHABIT
  • Mert from Espergaerde, DenmarkIt was a number 5 on Billboard and Kashbox magasin
    2 weeks in a row and sold over 1 million records.
  • Mert from Espergaerde, DenmarkHi Again
    I like to say I had a feew misspellings, - its quit a while since I have been writing the English language. Al Austin, - was the original Guitar player on Time wont let me. --- It was Tom King and hes kousin Chet Kelly that wrote many of the songs. --- The drummer on Time wont let me was Ron Harkai. --- In the 10 monts I was with the group We recorded 3 LP´s and 4 singles. I was the arainger on the vocals. And all the guys in The Outsiders made up there own parts in all the songs. Exept for the Horns and The violins, wich was arrainged music scores. --- Later, - Mert
  • Mert from Espergaerde, DenmarkHi Ye people of Artist facts.
    I would like to straighten a feew things out, - Being that I am the original bass player from " The Starfires and " TheOutsiders: Mert Madsen from Denmark. The lead guitarist were the late: Al Austin --- I ough to now since I was in the Cleveland Recording Cutting that somg with Al, and Tom King.Rhythem -- Ponn Harkai on drums. --- Later on Al Austin died in a caraccident only 19 years of age. --- A good freind and one hell of a musissian.--- If anyone look up on Google writing: The Outsiders from Cleveland Ohio. - They get a resomay of the group. --- There is a feew flaws in it. -- Among other. I Mert Madsen did not leave the group to get maried, - as it wrongly states. - I was already maried just before our first tour the.29 of january 1966. - I left cause I had a nervus breakdown. - Because of the imposible posission we all were in. --- Best Regards. - Mert Madsen /Or my full name is: Merdin Gunnar Printz Madsen - From Denmark
  • Henri from Groningen, NetherlandsApart from the American group The Outsiders there also was a Dutch popgroup called The Outsiders. They came from Amsterdam. Wally Tax was the singer and sort-of-leader, other members were Appie Rammers, Leendert Busch, Ronals Splinter and Tom Krabbendam. During 1966/1967 they had five top-10 hits in a row in The Netherlands. Some believe they were the best Dutch popgroup ever, above Q65, Golden Earring or others.
  • Harry from Camden, NjSomeone told me that they were the Detroit Wheels before Mitch Ryder went solo; is this true? Also, they released a version of a shaky song, "Help Me Girl" almost simultaneously with Eric Burdon & the Animals in about 1967-68. It didn't go anywhere for either group, not surprisingly.
  • David from New York, NyI grew up in Ohio and saw these guys in a number of "Battle of the Bands." The group was originally called "Tom King and the Starfires" with Tom King as leader of the band and singer. He and either his brother or brother in law wrote this song. But in order to get the song recorded by Capital label they had to change their name. King selected the name "The Outsiders."
  • Chas from Boise, IdThe lead guitarist on the "Time Won't Let Me" recording, Joe Baldassarre, was a session guy in Cleveland, and now holds a Ph.D. in early music (as in medieval music) and is considered an international authority on said period music; he's a professor of guitar at Boise State University, in Boise Idaho.
  • Sander from Rotterdam, United StatesI believe the Outsiders had another hit "Lying all the time" Please correct me if i'm wrong.
    -Sander, Rotterdam, The Nethelands
  • Rick from San Juan, United StatesTheir third hit "Respectable" peaked at a respectable #15 in the National Billboard Top 100 charts, which disqualifies The Outsiders from being mere "one hit wonders".
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