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Alfie (song)

This article is about the Burt Bacharach song. For the Lily Allen song, see Alfie (Lily Allen song).

Single by Cilla Black
B-side "Night Time Is Here"
Released January(?) 1966 (UK); July 1966 (US)
Format 7" single
Length 2:40
Label Parlophone (UK); Capitol (US)
Writer(s) Burt Bacharach, Hal David
Producer George Martin
Cilla Black singles chronology

"Love's Just a Broken Heart"
"Don't Answer Me"
B-side "She's No Better Than Me"
Released 1966
Format 7" single
Genre Pop/Folk
Length 2:50
Label Imperial Records
Writer(s) Burt Bacharach, Hal David
Producer Sonny Bono
Cher singles chronology

"Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)"
"I Feel Something in The Air"
"Alfie" (Cher version)

Problems playing this file? See media help.
Single by Dionne Warwick
from the album Here Where There is Love
B-side "The Beginning of Loneliness"
Released 1967
Format 7" single
Recorded 1966
Genre Soul, Pop
Length 2:44
Label Scepter
Writer(s) Burt Bacharach, Hal David
Producer Burt Bacharach, Hal David
Dionne Warwick singles chronology

"Another Night"
"The Beginning of Loneliness"/
"The Windows of the World""

"Alfie" is a song written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David in 1965 most successfully recorded by Cher, Cilla Black and Dionne Warwick.


Although Burt Bacharach has cited "Alfie" as his personal favorite of his compositions, he and Hal David had not been very interested when approached by Ed Wolpin, who headed the composers' publishers Famous Music, to write a song to serve as a promotional tie-in with the upcoming film Alfie (a release from Paramount Pictures who owned Famous Music). Hal David would attribute the composers' disinterest to the title character's name being pedestrian: "Writing a song about a man called 'Alfie' didn't seem too exciting at the time."

The composers agreed to submit an "Alfie" song if they were able to write a worthy candidate so named within a three-week period. When Bacharach, resident in California, was shown a rough cut of the film Alfie the quality of the film's depiction of a [1] he arranged for David - in Long Island - to receive a script of the film to facilitate writing the lyrics for an "Alfie" song. David utilized one of Michael Caine's lines in the film: "What's it all about", as the opening phrase for the song's lyrics which when completed were set to music by Bacharach.


Although Black's version of "Alfie" had served as a promotional tool for the film's UK release rather than as the film's theme - being in fact featured nowhere on the soundtrack of the film's UK release - for the US release of the film Alfie the film's distributor United Artists wanted the song featured on the film's soundtrack despite the objections of the film's director Lewis Gilbert who felt the song "Alfie" would distract from the jazz score he had had Sonny Rollins provide for the film. United Artists compromised with Gilbert in keeping the prospective theme song out of the main body of the film Alfie but having it play during the closing credits.

Rather than utilize Black's version, United Artists commissioned a new version of the song "Alfie" by Cher who was on the roster of Imperial Records. Recorded at Gold Star Studios, Cher's version of "Alfie" was released at the end of June 1966 almost two months prior to the film's US premiere (August 25, 1966); Sonny Bono's heavy-handed production (à la Phil Spector) did not showcase the song appealingly and despite being the follow-up to the No.2 hit "Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)" Cher's version of "Alfie" rose no higher than No.32.[1]

The versions of "Alfie" by both Cilla Black and Cher were released in Australia in July 1966, with Black's becoming the major hit at No.22; the Cher version's Australian chart peak was No.96.

"Alfie" was featured on the October 1966 album release entitled Chér.

Despite her 1966 version being a relative chart disappointment, Cher was recruited to remake the song "Alfie" to play under the closing credits of the 2004 remake of the film Alfie, Cher by then being the only one of the song's early interpreters to have had any recent recording success. After previews, audiences responded to Cher's updated version of the theme song with laughter which led to the track being subsequently dropped from the soundtrack. After unsuccessfully wooing Norah Jones to remake "Alfie" for the film, the producers successfully recruited Joss Stone.[2]


Chart (1966) Peak
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 32
Australia (ARIA Charts) 96

Early covers

Despite the relative failure of the version of "Alfie" cut for the US film release, Cilla Black's UK success with the song had attracted sufficient attention in the US for several American singers besides Cher to cover the song by the time the film Alfie opened in the US in August 1966. Two of these covers actually predate the Cher recording although neither was released prior to Cher's, the first evident recording of "Alfie" by an American singer being that cut by Jerry Butler in May 1966 which first appeared as a track on the December 1967 album release Mr Dream Merchant. Also in the spring of 1966 Dee Dee Warwick, while on a promotional junket to the UK, made a recording of "Alfie" at the Philips Studio in Marble Arch with Johnny Franz producing the session and Peter Knight arranging and conducting the orchestra; this version was first issued over a year later as the B-side of Dee Dee Warwick's 1967 single "Locked in Your Love".

At the time the film Alfie premiered in New York City August 25, 1966 at least eight recorded versions of the song "Alfie" were in release in the US: besides the Cher version from the film and the Cilla Black original which had been issued in the US that July to peak at No.95 on the Billboard Hot 100, "Alfie" had been recorded by Vikki Carr, Jack Jones, Tony Martin, Carmen McRae, Joanie Sommers and Billy Vaughn. The five last-named singers had recorded "Alfie" in hopes of taking the song into the Billboard Easy Listening chart rather than scoring a mainstream Pop hit and both Joanie Sommers and Carmen McRae did score an Easy Listening hit with their respective versions of "Alfie" (Sommers - No.9; McRae - No.29).

Other versions

Andy Williams released a version in 1967 on his album, Born Free.

In 1968, Stevie Wonder released a harmonica instrumental version. This version made the Hot 100, peaking at No.66, and it was also a Top 20 Easy Listening hit. Wonder's single was made for Gordy Records and released pseudonymously as Eivets Rednow - an inversion of "Stevie" and "Wonder".

The Delfonics recorded "Alfie" for their 1968 La La Means I Love You album produced by Thom Bell; originally the B-side of the group's hit 1968 hit "Break Your Promise", the Delfonics' recording of "Alfie" had a belated A-side release in 1973 when it was a minor R&B hit (No.88).

In 1994, Whitney Houston performed the song on select dates during her Bodyguard Tour, and her 1997 HBO televised concert, Classic Whitney Live from Washington, D.C..

Joss Stone remade "Alfie" to play under the closing credits of the 2004 remake of the film Alfie, her version replacing a new recording by Cher which was dropped after drawing laughter from preview audiences (Stone was offered the song after Norah Jones declined).[2]

Other artists to record versions of "Alfie" include several versions by Bacharach himself, Patricia Barber, Randy Crawford, Bill Evans, Percy Faith, Blossom Dearie, Everything But The Girl, Maynard Ferguson, Stan Getz, Tony Hatch, Dick Hyman, The Anita Kerr Singers, Tony Bennett, Johnny Mathis, David McCallum, Brad Mehldau, Mina, Matt Monro, Olivia Newton-John, Elaine Paige, Rita Reys, Buddy Rich, Rumer, The Sweet Inspirations, McCoy Tyner, Midge Ure, Sarah Vaughan, Nancy Wilson, Earl Klugh and Vanessa Williams.

Barbra Streisand recorded the song for her 1969 album What About Today? and performed it on her "Timeless" tour in 2000.

In a deleted scene from the movie Austin Powers in Goldmember, the song is parodied, with "Austin" replacing "Alfie" in the lyric. Alfie is sung by most of the main characters. Michael Caine, who plays Austin Powers' father, also played the character Alfie in the original 1966 movie, and scenes from the film appear in the background while he is singing. Susanna Hoffs made the recording of this version - entitled "Alfie (What's It All About, Austin?)" for the soundtrack album.


  • Serene Dominic. Burt Bacharach, song by song: the ultimate Burt Bacharach reference for fans. Schirmer Trade (New York NY) 2003. ISBN 0-8256-7280-5

External links


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