Found Performance: “I Put A Spell On You” by Nina Simone


One of the best known  versions of  “I Put A Spell On You” is by legendary jazz and blues performer Nina Simone. Her recording reached #23 on the U.S. Billboard R&B chart in 1965. There are very few videos of Simone singing this classic song.  This “Found Performance” is from Simone’s 1968 live performance in the United Kingdom.

“I Put A Spell On You” is an interesting story. “Screamin’” Jay Hawkins wrote, composed and performed the original version back in 1956. Although it was somewhat popular, or at least notorious and talked about over the years, his record was wild (with grunting) and his stage performances included a voodoo theme and his crawling out of a coffin. The majority of radio stations wouldn’t play it — too controversial and, therefore, the record failed to chart. However, Hawkin’s rendition of his song is included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s list of 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.

There have been several other cover versions of “I Put A Spell On You.” The one that reached the highest position on the Billboard Hot 100 (#58 in 1968) was by Creedence Clearwater Revival. Other cover versions worth mentioning were by The Allan Price Set, Bryan Ferry, Marilyn Manson and Sonique.

Technical: This is shortened version of her song, but it is unedited and as she performed it live. The video quality and the sound have been enhanced, and the lip sync corrected, to improve the overall quality of this more than 50 year-old archival recording.


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Steven Smith

Author: Steven Smith

Presently editor and historical writer with Puget Sound Media in Seattle. Former radio broadcaster and radio station owner, 1970-1999. Journalism and speech communications degrees. I enjoy researching articles and online reporting that allows me to meld together words, audio and video. P.S. I appreciate and encourage reader comments and opinions.

6 thoughts on “Found Performance: “I Put A Spell On You” by Nina Simone

  1. Steve ~ Great Nina Simone find! I only wish the performance could have been 4 or 5 minutes longer.
    I’ve always been a fan of Nina’s. I first discovered her in 1959 with her wonderful rendition and #18 Pop Hit of “I Loves You Porgy” (#2 on the R&B Chart). Still one of my favorite recordings. Even as a young man her voice and style touched my musical sensibilities. She’s a rare talent! I have a number of her CDs in my collection.

  2. Steve ~ Oh, I understand from what you’d said in your post that Nina’s performance of “Spell” was all you could get length wise.
    I was just a wishin’ and a hopin’.

    1. Jay…I knew that you got it. So isn’t that line Wishin’ and hopin’ in a song? It is familiar. As for Nina, I think there are some of her longer performances out there, but not of that cut. And as a result of our earlier video swap you know why I wanted that particular tune.

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