Don't Leave Me This Way

This article is about the song written by Kenneth Gamble, Leon Huff and Cary Gilbert. For the Tina Turner song, see Don't Leave Me This Way (Tina Turner song).
"Don't Leave Me This Way"
Single by Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes
from the album Wake Up Everybody
B-side "To Be Free to Be Who We Are"
  • 1975
  • 1977
  • 1979
  • 1988
Recorded 1975
  • 6:08 (Album version)
  • 3:59 (7' edit)
  • 7:07 (12" version)
  • 11:00 (1988 version)
Label Philadelphia International
Writer(s) Kenneth Gamble, Leon Huff and Cary Gilbert
Producer(s) Gamble & Huff
Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes singles chronology
"Tell the World How I Feel about 'Cha Baby"
"Don't Leave Me This Way"
"Reaching for the World"
Audio sample
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"Don't Leave Me This Way" is a song written by Kenneth Gamble, Leon Huff and Cary Gilbert. First charting as a hit for Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, an act on Gamble & Huff's Philadelphia International label in 1975, "Don't Leave Me This Way" was later a huge disco hit for Motown artist Thelma Houston in 1977. The song was a major hit for British group The Communards in 1986.

Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes version

The Blue Notes' original version of the song, featuring Teddy Pendergrass' lead vocal, was included as an album track on the group's successful album Wake Up Everybody released in November 1975. Though not issued as a single in the United States at the time, the Blue Notes' recording reached #3 on the US Billboard Disco Chart in the wake of Thelma Houston's version. The song proved to be the group's biggest hit in the UK, #5 on the UK singles chart, when released there as a single in 1977. It became the title track of a budget LP issued on the CBS Embassy label in the UK in 1978.>[1] The track was finally issued as a 12-inch single in the US in 1979, coupled with "Bad Luck".

Chart performance

Chart (1975) Peak
US Billboard Disco Chart[2] 3
Chart (1977) Peak
Swedish Singles Chart[3] 13
UK Singles Chart[4] 5

Thelma Houston version

"Don't Leave Me This Way"
Single by Thelma Houston
from the album Any Way You Like It
B-side "Today Will Soon Be Yesterday"
Released December 2, 1976
Recorded 1976
Length 3:37
Label Motown
Producer(s) Hal Davis
Certification Platinum (US)
Thelma Houston singles chronology
"You've Been Doing Wrong for So Long"
"Don't Leave Me This Way"
"If It's the Last Thing I Do"

"Don't Leave Me This Way" was covered by Motown in 1976. Originally assigned to Diana Ross, it was intended to be the follow-up to her hit "Love Hangover" but was reassigned and given to the upcoming Motown artist Thelma Houston instead. Studio musicians on the track included James Gadson on drums, Henry E. Davis (of the band L.T.D.) on bass, and John Barnes on keyboards.[5]

Following the release of her third album Any Way You Like It, a Boston record pool unanimously reported positive audience response to "Don't Leave Me This Way" in discos, and the song was selected for release as a single.[6] Houston's version became a massive international hit, topping the soul singles chart[7] and, nine weeks later, the Billboard Hot 100 for one week in April 1977. The song peaked at #13 in the UK.[8] The song went to number one on the disco chart.[9] Later in the year, it was featured on the soundtrack of the movie, Looking for Mr. Goodbar. In 1978, "Don't Leave Me This Way" won the award for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female at the 20th Annual Grammy Awards.[10]

Houston's version was revived in 1995 in several remixes, which reached #19 on the US Billboard Dance Chart and #35 in the UK.[8] This version got Houston ranked #86 on VH1's "100 Greatest One-hit Wonders", as well as the #2 spot on their "100 Greatest Dance Songs" list.

The 1994/1995 remixes are: R&B vs 4:00 | Remix radio vs 4:00 | 7” radio edit 4:00 | Club remix vertigo 5:40 | House club remix 5:40 | Factory team remix 5:50 | U.S. club edit 5:50 | Serious rope club remix 7:10 | Serious rope 7” remix 4:10 | Jazz voice's classic club trax 6:10 | Jazz voice's dub mix 7:35 | Xs'2 house pump mix 7:30 | Joe T. Vanelli dubby mix 8:40 | Joe T. Vanelli light mix 5:20 | Joe T. Vanelli Radio Cut 3:54 | Joe T. Vanelli Extra Dubby 5:17 | Junior sound factory mix 9:30 | Tribe dub (acid vocal) 7:20 | Junior's factory dub 9:30 | Junior gospel dub 7:55 | Junior's Tribe Prank Mix and Radio Edit 3:20.

HIV/AIDS significance

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Houston's version of the song became an unofficial theme song for the AIDS epidemic in gay male communities of the west. American artist Nayland Blake created a work for American Foundation of AIDS research about the epidemic that referenced the song and its significance in the community. An art exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia entitled "Don't Leave Me This Way - Art in the age of AIDS" opened in 1994 containing various works about the epidemic. A 246-page publication of the exhibition also followed.[11]

Chart performance

Weekly charts

Chart (1976–77) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[12] 6
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[13] 18
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[14] 4
France (IFOP) 13
Germany (Media Control Charts)[15] 5
Italy (FIMI) 15
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[16] 17
South Africa (Springbok Radio) 1
Spain (AFYVE) 11
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[17] 4
UK Singles Chart[8] 13
US Billboard Hot 100[18] 1
US Billboard Hot Disco Singles[18] 1
US Billboard Hot Soul Singles[18] 1
US Cash Box Top 100[19] 3
(remix version)
Australia (ARIA)[20] 83
UK Singles Chart[8] 35
US Billboard Hot Dance Club Play[18] 19

Year-end charts

Chart (1977) Rank
Australia [21] 21
Canada [22] 48
UK [23] 133
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 [24] 7
U.S. Cash Box [25] 17


Preceded by
"Don't Give Up on Us" by David Soul
Billboard Hot 100 number-one single
April 23, 1977 (one week)
Succeeded by
"Southern Nights" by Glen Campbell
Preceded by
"I Wish" by Stevie Wonder
Billboard's Hot Soul Singles number-one single
February 19, 1977 (one week)
Succeeded by
"I've Got Love on My Mind" by Natalie Cole
Preceded by
Four Seasons of Love by Donna Summer (all cuts)
Billboard Hot Dance Club Play number-one single (with "Any Way You Like It")
December 25, 1976 – January 29, 1977 (six weeks)
Succeeded by
"Disco Inferno" / "Starvin'" / "Body Contact Contract" by The Trammps

The Communards version

"Don't Leave Me This Way"
Single by The Communards with Sarah Jane Morris
from the album Communards
B-side "Sanctified"
Released August 1986
Format 7" vinyl,
12" vinyl,
CD single,
Cassette single
Recorded 1986
Genre Hi-NRG[26][27]
Length 4:50
Label London
Writer(s) Kenneth Gamble, Leon Huff and Cary Gilbert
Producer(s) Mike Thorne
The Communards chronology
"Don't Leave Me This Way"
"So Cold The Night"

The song was covered by The Communards in a Hi-NRG version. This recording topped the UK charts for four weeks in September 1986, becoming the biggest selling record of the year in the process.[4] The featured guest vocalist was the female jazz singer Sarah Jane Morris.[28] The song became a Top 40 hit on the US Billboard Hot 100 and topped the Billboard Dance chart.[29] In 2015 the song was voted by the British public as the nation's 16th favourite 1980s number one in a poll for ITV.[30]

Several remixes were issued, notably the "Gotham City Mix" which was split across two sides of a 12" single and ran for a total of 22 minutes 55 seconds.

The album liner notes dedicate the song to the GLC.

Chart performance

Chart (1986-87) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[31] 2
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[32] 19
Belgium (VRT Top 30 Flanders)[33] 1
Europe (Eurochart Hot 100 Singles) 4
France (SNEP)[34] 6
Germany (Official German Charts)[35] 5
Ireland (IRMA)[36] 1
Italy (FIMI)[37] 5
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[38] 1
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[39] 2
Spain (AFYVE)[40] 6
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[41] 2
United Kingdom (The Official Charts Company)[42] 1
US Billboard Hot 100[43] 40
Preceded by
"The Power of Love by Jennifer Rush
Top selling single of the year (UK)
Succeeded by
"Never Gonna Give You Up" by Rick Astley
Preceded by
"I Want to Wake Up with You" by Boris Gardiner
UK Singles Chart number one single
September 7, 1986 (4 weeks)
Succeeded by
"True Blue" by Madonna
Preceded by
"Word Up!" by Cameo
Billboard Hot Dance Club Play number-one single
November 22, 1986
Succeeded by
"I Can't Turn Around" by J.M. Silk

Dami Im version

Dami Im covered the Houston-inspired version on 1 September 2013 during Week 3, Top 10 Hits Themed Round of the fifth season of The X Factor Australia competition.[44] Her performance was received by an unanimous standing ovation from all four judges and audience. It was her third consecutive standing ovation since Week 1 of the Live Shows[45] and her performance of the song debuted on the ARIA Singles Chart at number 67.[46] Im went on to win the competition and received a contract with Sony Music Australia.[47] Later that year, Im recorded a version for her self-titled album. The album debuted at #1 in the Australian Charts and was certified platinum.[48]

Notable cover versions

A version of the song is featured in the stage musical, Priscilla Queen of the Desert – the Musical during a funeral scene.

The Eurodisco song "Yes Sir, I Can Boogie" by Baccara (1977) borrows heavily from this song, sharing the intro and the bass line but with a different chorus line.

Episode 6 of the 2004 BBC miniseries Blackpool featured the Communards version, accompanied on screen by the singing and dancing of the characters, as part of the story.

The 2012 song "Lying Together" by French Kiwi Juice samples vocals from Houston's cover.

The song appeared in the 2015 movie The Martian directed by Ridley Scott and starring Matt Damon.


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  3. "". Retrieved December 3, 2008.
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  7. Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 262.
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  28. Morris will record later (2001) an acoustic version of the song, included in her album "August"
  29. Whitburn, Joel (2004). Hot Dance/Disco: 1974-2003. Record Research. p. 62.
  30. Westbrook, Caroline (25 July 2015). "The Nation's Favourite 80s Number One: 12 more classic 80s chart-toppers which didn't make the cut". Metro. Retrieved 27 July 2015.
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    10. Don't Leave Me This Way - The Communards [#5]
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  43. "Dami Im - Week 3 - Live Show 3 - The X Factor Australia 2013 Top 10".
  44. "The X Factor Australia Live Show – Dami Im Steals the Show Once Again with a Disco Track!". Take 40 Australia. MCM Entertainment. 8 September 2013. Retrieved 23 October 2013.
  45. Ryan, Gavin (14 September 2013). "ARIA Singles: Redfoo Is Number One". Noise11. Noise Network. Retrieved 14 September 2013.
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  47. Steffen Hung. "Dami Im - Dami Im". Retrieved 2016-10-10.
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