You Keep Me Hangin' On

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"You Keep Me Hangin' On"
You Keep Me Hangin' On by The Supremes US vinyl.jpg
Picture sleeve for US vinyl single
Single by The Supremes
from the album The Supremes Sing Holland–Dozier–Holland
B-side "Remove This Doubt"
Released October 12, 1966 (U.S.)
Format 7-inch 45 RPM
Recorded June 30 and August 1, 1966
Studio Hitsville U.S.A. (Studio A), Detroit, Michigan
  • 2:47 (original release)
  • 3:15 (remastered)
Label Motown (M 1101)
Songwriter(s) Holland–Dozier–Holland
The Supremes singles chronology
"You Can't Hurry Love"
"You Keep Me Hangin' On"
"Love Is Here and Now You're Gone"
The Supremes Sing Holland–Dozier–Holland track listing
Audio sample

"You Keep Me Hangin' On" is a 1966 song written and composed by Holland–Dozier–Holland. It first became a popular Billboard Hot 100 number one hit for the American Motown group The Supremes in late 1966. The rock band Vanilla Fudge covered the song a year later and had a top ten hit with their version. British pop singer Kim Wilde covered "You Keep Me Hangin' On" in 1986, bumping it back to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in June 1987, the single reached number one by two different musical acts in America. In the first 32 years of the Billboard Hot 100 rock era, “You Keep Me Hangin' On” became one of only six songs to achieve this feat;[1] in 1996, country music singer Reba McEntire's version reached number 2 on the US Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart.

Over the years, "You Keep Me Hangin' On" has been covered by various artists including a charting version by Wilson Pickett, Rod Stewart, Colourbox, The Index and the Box Tops.

The Supremes original version[edit]


"You Keep Me Hangin' On" was originally recorded in 1966 by The Supremes for the Motown label. The single is rooted in proto-funk and rhythm and blues, compared to the Supremes' previous single, "You Can't Hurry Love," which uses the call and response elements akin to gospel. The song's signature guitar part is said to have originated from a Morse code-like radio sound effect, typically used before a news announcement, heard by Lamont Dozier. Dozier collaborated with Brian and Eddie Holland to integrate the idea into a single.[2]

Many elements of the recording, including the guitars, the drums, and Diana Ross's vocals were multitracked, a production technique which was established and popularized concurrently by H-D-H and other premier producers of the 1960s such as Phil Spector (see Wall of Sound) and George Martin. H-D-H recorded the song in eight sessions with The Supremes and session band The Funk Brothers before settling on a version deemed suitable for the final release.[2]


"You Keep Me Hangin' On" was the first single taken from the Supremes' 1967 album The Supremes Sing Holland–Dozier–Holland. The song became the group's eighth number-one single when it topped the Billboard Hot 100 pop singles chart for two weeks in the United States from November 13, 1966 through November 27, 1966.[3][4] It peaked at number 8 in the UK Singles Chart, the Supremes original version was ranked #339 on Rolling Stone's The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.[5] It was voted #43 on Detroit's 100 Greatest Songs, a Detroit Free Press poll in 2016.[6]

The track is one of the more oft-covered songs in the Supremes canon, they performed the song on the ABC variety program The Hollywood Palace on Saturday, October 29, 1966.[7]


Chart performance[edit]

Preceded by
"Poor Side of Town" by Johnny Rivers
Billboard Hot 100 number-one single (Supremes version)
November 19, 1966 (2 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Winchester Cathedral" by The New Vaudeville Band
Preceded by
"Knock on Wood" by Eddie Floyd
Billboard Hot R&B Singles number-one single (The Supremes version)
November 26, 1966 – December 17, 1966 (4 weeks)
Succeeded by
"(I Know) I'm Losing You" by The Temptations

Vanilla Fudge version[edit]

"You Keep Me Hangin' On"
Single by Vanilla Fudge
from the album Vanilla Fudge
B-side "Take Me For A Little While"[10]
Released 1967 (U.S.)
Format 7-inch 45 RPM
Recorded 1967
Genre Psychedelic rock[11]
  • 2:59 (single edit)
  • 7:20 (album version)
Label Atco (6590)
Songwriter(s) Holland-Dozier-Holland
Producer(s) Shadow Morton
Vanilla Fudge singles chronology
"You Keep Me Hangin' On"
"Eleanor Rigby"


Vanilla Fudge's 1967 psychedelic rock remake of "You Keep Me Hangin' On" reached number 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart a year after the release of the Supremes' recording. While the edited version released on the 45 RPM single was under three minutes long, the album version was seven minutes and twenty seconds long,[12] the recording, done in one take, was Vanilla Fudge's first single.[13]

Vanilla Fudge drummer Carmine Appice talked about the band's decision to cover the song in a 2014 interview:[14]

That was Mark and Timmy. We used to slow songs down and listen to the lyrics and try to emulate what the lyrics were dictating, that one was a hurtin’ song; it had a lot of emotion in it. “People Get Ready” was like a Gospel thing. “Eleanor Rigby” was sort of eerie and church-like …like a horror movie kind of thing. If you listen to “Hangin’ On” fast… by The Supremes, it sounds very happy, but the lyrics aren’t happy at all. If you lived through that situation, the lyrics are definitely not happy.

A similar arrangement was used by Rod Stewart on his 1977 album Foot Loose & Fancy Free. This may have, in part, been the idea of Appice, who had by now joined Stewart's band.

The Vanilla Fudge version appears at the conclusion of Episode 1 of Season 7 of the Mad Men television series (2015),[15] plus in the film War Dogs (2016) and the videogame Mafia III (2016).


Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1967–68) Peak
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 6

Kim Wilde version[edit]

"You Keep Me Hangin' On"
Standard artwork (7-inch vinyl single pictured); the North American release uses different colours for the map background and the title design
Single by Kim Wilde
from the album Another Step
B-side "Loving You"
Released 13 October 1986[16]
Recorded 1986
Genre Hi-NRG[17][18]
Length 4:15
Label MCA
Songwriter(s) Holland-Dozier-Holland
Producer(s) Ricky Wilde
Music video
"You Keep Me Hangin' On" on YouTube


"You Keep Me Hangin' On" was covered in an updated version by British singer Kim Wilde in 1986. Wilde's version was a total re-working of the original, completely transforming the Supremes' Motown Sound into a hi-NRG song,[19] she and her brother, producer Ricky Wilde, had not heard "You Keep Me Hangin' On" for several years when they decided to record it. The song was not a track they knew well, so they treated it as a new song, even slightly changing the original lyrics.


It was released as the second single from Wilde's Another Step studio album (although "You Keep Me Hangin' On" was the LP's first worldwide single, as the first single had been released only in selected countries), the song became the biggest hit of Wilde's career, reaching number 2 in her home country,[20] and number 1 in Australia.[21] It also became Wilde's second and last Top 40 hit in the US following "Kids in America" and is also, to date, her most successful song in that country, reaching number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for one week in June 1987.[22] It later ranked as the 34th biggest hit of 1987 on Billboard's Hot 100 year-end chart that year. "You Keep Me Hangin' On" was certified silver by the British Phonographic Industry[16] for UK sales exceeding 250,000 copies.[23]

In 2006, she performed a new version of the song with the German singer Nena for her Never Say Never album.

Music video[edit]

A music video was produced to promote her single.[24] Directed by Greg Masuak, the video shows Wilde in a dark room lying on a large bed, she then rises from the bed as she sings the song and finds herself being "threatened" by a strange man who is breaking down the walls around her.[25]

Chart performance[edit]

Preceded by
"Walk Like an Egyptian" by Bangles
Australian number-one single (Kim Wilde version)
February 16, 1987 (1 week)
Succeeded by
"Walk Like an Egyptian" by Bangles
Preceded by
"Walk Like an Egyptian" by Bangles
Australian number-one single (Kim Wilde version)
March 2, 1987 (1 week)
Succeeded by
"I Wanna Wake Up with You" by Boris Gardiner
Preceded by
"With or Without You" by U2
Billboard Hot 100 number-one single (Kim Wilde version)
June 6, 1987 (1 week)
Succeeded by
"Always" by Atlantic Starr

Reba McEntire version[edit]

"You Keep Me Hangin' On"
Single by Reba McEntire
from the album Starting Over
Released 1996
Format CD single, maxi single
Genre Country
Length 3:22
Label MCA Nashville
Songwriter(s) Holland-Dozier-Holland
Producer(s) Tony Brown, Michael Omartian, Reba McEntire
Reba McEntire singles chronology
"Starting Over Again"
"You Keep Me Hangin' On"
"The Fear of Being Alone"
"Starting Over Again"
"You Keep Me Hangin' On"
"The Fear of Being Alone"


Country music singer Reba McEntire covered the song in 1995 for her twenty-second studio album, Starting Over. Released as the album's fourth single in 1996 on MCA Nashville Records, it was co-produced by Tony Brown and Michael Omartian, although not released to country radio, McEntire's rendition was her only dance hit, reaching #2 on Hot Dance Club Play.[38]

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1996–97) Peak
U.S. Billboard Hot Dance Club Play 2


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  3. ^ "Billboard Hot 100". Billboard. Nielsen Company. 78 (47): 30. 1966. Retrieved 10 May 2011. 
  4. ^ "Billboard Hot 100". Billboard. Nielsen Company. 78 (48): 26. 1966. Retrieved 10 May 2011. 
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  9. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1966/Top 100 Songs of 1966". Retrieved 2016-09-30. 
  10. ^ "The Vanilla Fudge* - You Keep Me Hanging On / Take Me For A Little While". Discogs. Retrieved 8 September 2017. 
  11. ^ Leeds, Sarene (April 13, 2014). "'Mad Men' Season Premiere Recap: Nowhere to Hide". Rolling Stone. Retrieved July 23, 2016. 
  12. ^ Vanilla Fudge- Vanilla Fudge Retrieved January 16, 2015
  13. ^ "You Keep Me Hangin' On" Songfacts entry Retrieved March 18, 2007
  14. ^ Carmine Appice Interview: The Legendary Drummer Keeps ‘Rock’ Hangin’ On Retrieved January 16, 2015
  15. ^ Amy Pitt, 25 Best 'Mad Men' Musical Moments, Rolling Stone, May 15, 2015. Retrieved 2017-06-14.
  16. ^ a b "BPI > Certified Awards > Search results for Kim Wilde (from". Retrieved 1 May 2016. 
  17. ^ Mason, Stewart. "Kim Wilde – Another Step". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 31 March 2015. 
  18. ^ Watson, Graeme (12 September 2013). "Kim Wilde Talks Pop, Parenthood and PVC". OutInPerth. Retrieved 31 March 2015. 
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See also[edit]