Half-Breed (song)

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Cher-halfUSA cover.jpg
Single by Cher
from the album Half-Breed
B-side "Melody"
Released July 23, 1973
Format 7-inch single
Recorded Larrabee Sound Studios, 1973
Genre Pop rock
Length 2:46
Label MCA
Producer(s) Snuff Garrett
Cher singles chronology
"Am I Blue?"
"Carousel Man"

"Am I Blue?"
"Carousel Man"
Audio sample
Alternative covers
Spanish single
Spanish single
Japanese single
Japanese single

"Half-Breed" is a 1973 song recorded by American singer-actress Cher with instrumental backing by L.A. sessions musicians from the Wrecking Crew.[1] Recorded on May 21, 1973 at Larrabee Sound in Los Angeles, it entered the Billboard Hot 100 at number 89 on August 4, 1973, and on October 6, 1973, it became Cher's second US solo number 1 hit.[2] The single was certified Gold in the US for the sales of over 1 million copies.

Song information and story[edit]

It was the first international release from Cher's album Half-Breed. It was meant to be sold to the American market. It tells the story, in the tradition of the tragic mulatto stock character, of a young woman with one white and one Cherokee parent and describes the troubles faced by the main character. The song offers a scenario in which whites often called her "Indian squaw" and Native Americans never accepted her as one of their own because she was considered white by the native law (the Cherokee, like many North American native tribes, used matrilineal kinship, meaning a child born to a white mother and a Cherokee father, a mestizo or métis, could regularly end up in such limbo).

Cher herself was not of Native American descent; her bronze complexion was largely through her Armenian father (an ethnicity with similar physical appearance to Native Americans), and it posed similar problems for her in her youth.[citation needed]

In 1973, "Half-Breed" topped the United States Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks, becoming Cher's second solo and third overall number 1 hit, and second Gold certified solo single for the sales of over 1,000,000 copies. It was a number 1 hit in Canada and New Zealand, and a Top 10 hit in Australia and Norway respectively.

Critical reception and composition[edit]

Peter Fawthrop wrote that this song has a jingling rhythm and that it is one of the more lighthearted songs on the album.[3] Rolling Stone recommended it and described Cher's vocals as frantic and the production as supremely commercial.[4]

Live performances[edit]

In 1999, after almost 25 years of not performing the song live, Cher performed the song in her Do You Believe? Tour. In 2002, she performed the song 326 times in her Living Proof: The Farewell Tour.

Cher performed the song on the following concert tours:

Music video[edit]

The video for "Half-Breed" is a recorded performance of the song on The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour in 1973. Cher is on a horse while singing in front of a white screen. Props symbolizing Native America were used—wood carvings, fire, and costumes.

Remix version[edit]

In 2002, a special remix medley was created by Dan-O-Rama for a video montage that was used in Cher's Living Proof: The Farewell Tour. The medley contains the videos of "All I Really Want to Do", "Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves", "Half-Breed", and "Dark Lady".


Charts and certifications[edit]

In popular culture[edit]

  • An African-American female impersonator performs the song onstage in the 1999 film Flawless.
  • The song appeared in the 2005 film Lords of Dogtown.
  • In 2012, the character Shania Clemmons of The New Normal TV series sang this song during a talent show while impersonating Cher.


  • Swedish singers Björn Skifs & Blåblus (Blue Swede) made one of the first covers in 1973. It appeared on their album Pinewood Rally and a compilation entitled Björns Bästa (Bjorn's Best).
  • German singer Joy Fleming recorded a German-language version "Halbblut" as a single in 1973. It peaked in the West German charts at no. 38 in February 1974.
  • Orchestra leader Ray Conniff recorded it with his singers in November 1973. It remained unissued until 2009 when it appeared on Ray Conniff: The Singles Collection, Volume 3.
  • In 1990 it was covered by Shania Twain but it was not released until 2001 on her album The Complete Limelight Sessions.
  • It was covered by alternative rock band House of Large Sizes.
  • Electronica artist Peaches covered it for youth radio station Triple J's "Like a Version" segment.
  • RuPaul covered "Half-Breed" on The RuPaul Show.