There's a Honky Tonk Angel (Who'll Take Me Back In)

"There's a Honky Tonk Angel (Who'll Take Me Back In)"
Single by Conway Twitty
from the album Honky Tonk Angel
B-side "Don't It Let Go To Your Heart"
Released January 1974
Recorded October 29, 1973
Studio Bradley's Barn, Mt. Juliet, Tennessee
Genre Country
Length 2:57
Label MCA
Producer(s) Owen Bradley
Conway Twitty singles chronology
"You've Never Been This Far Before"

"There's a Honky Tonk Angel (Who'll Take Me Back In)"

"I'm Not Through Loving You Yet"


"There's a Honky Tonk Angel (Who'll Take Me Back In)" is a song best known for the 1974 recording by American country music artist Conway Twitty, who took it to number 1 on the Hot Country Singles chart.[1] The song was written by Troy Seals and Denny Rice and originally released on Troy Seals' 1973 debut album Now Presenting Troy Seals.[2]

British singer Cliff Richard released a version as a single in 1975, however after being on sale for a short time in the UK and promoting it with TV appearances, it was withdrawn from the UK market after Richard found out exactly what a Honky Tonk Angel was.[3]

Elvis Presley recorded a version that was first released as an album track in 1975, however it was released as the B-side of a posthumous single in 1979 and overshadowed the A-side to reach number 6 on the Hot Country Singles chart.[4][5]

Conway Twitty version [ edit ]

Twitty's version was released in January 1974 as the first single from the album Honky Tonk Angel. The single became Twitty's 10th number one on the U.S. country singles chart as a solo artist and 13th overall. It stayed at number one for one week and spent 12 weeks on the chart in all.[1]

Personnel [ edit ]

Chart performance [ edit ]

Chart (1974) Peak

US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[7] 1
Canadian RPM Country Tracks 1

Cliff Richard version [ edit ]

"Honky Tonk Angel"
Honky Tong Angel - Cliff Richard single.jpg
Cover of the German release
Single by Cliff Richard
B-side "(Wouldn't You Know It) Got Myself a Girl"
Released 5 September 1975
Format 7-inch single
Recorded 20 June 1974
Studio Morgan Studios
Genre Country
Length 3:03
Label EMI
Cliff Richard singles chronology
"It's Only Me You Left Behind"

"Honky Tonk Angel"

"Miss You Nights"


In 1975, Cliff Richard released the song as a single, but was withdrawn when the singer discovered that 'honky-tonk angel' is an American slang term for a prostitute.[3]

One of Cliff Richard's producers, Bruce Welch, heard the song and considered that it would make a good 'comeback' single after disappointing chart performances in 1973 and 1974.[3] A version was then arranged for Cliff Richard by John Farrar, with a string arrangement by Nick Ingman.

While recording the song, Cliff Richard incorrectly assumed that the song's lyrics were about a piano player, unaware that the phrase 'honky-tonk angel' was used in America as a synonym for 'prostitute'.[8] Some of his fans and friends, aware of the true meaning of the song's title, expressed surprise that he had chosen to cover the song, given his Christian beliefs. When the singer himself learnt the meaning of the slang term, he decided to make a television announcement about the withdrawal of the record and refused to promote it, even though the single was expected to perform well. Richard's longtime label EMI eventually agreed to withdraw the single at his request.[3]

The single was originally released in September 1975 with the B-side "(Wouldn't You Know It) Got Myself a Girl". Since its withdrawal, "Honky Tonk Angel" has appeared as a bonus track on the CD release of I'm Nearly Famous (2001) and on two official compilations: The Singles Collection (EMI, 2002) and Lost & Found (From the Archives) (EMI, 2009).

Elvis Presley version [ edit ]

"There's a Honky Tonk Angel (Who'll Take Me Back In)"
There's A Honky Tonk Angel - Elvis Presley single.jpg
Cover with the track titles flipped
Single by Elvis Presley
A-side "I Got a Feelin' in My Body"
Released July 1979
Format 7-inch single
Recorded 15 December 1973
Studio Stax
Genre Country
Length 3:02
Label RCA
Elvis Presley singles chronology
"Are You Sincere"

"There's a Honky Tonk Angel (Who'll Take Me Back In)"

""It Won't Seem Like Christmas (Without You)" (UK release)"


Elvis Presley covered the track in 1975 and first released it on his Promised Land album. It was released on the B-side of the posthumous single "I Got a Feelin' in My Body" in 1979 and overshadowed the A-side to peak at number 6 on the Hot Country Singles chart.[4][5] Along the way, the song titles on the cover sleeve were reversed accordingly.

The track was recorded at Stax Records, 15 December 1973.

Other cover versions [ edit ]

  • A cover by Dobie Gray is on his 1973 album Loving Arms.

References [ edit ]

  1. ^ a b Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book Of Top 40 Country Hits: 1944-2006, Second edition. Record Research. p. 361.
  2. ^ Troy Seals (1973). Now Presenting Troy Seals (LP album). US: Atlantic.
  3. ^ a b c d Ewbank, Tim; Hildred, Stafford (2008). Cliff: An Intimate Portrait of a Living Legend. Random House. pp. 229–230.
  4. ^ a b Elvis Presley Billboard Chart Positions at AllMusic. Retrieved 07/14/2014.
  5. ^ a b Elvis Presley (1979). There's a Honky Tonk Angel (Who'll Take Me Back In) (7-inch single). US: RCA.
  6. ^ The Conway Twitty Collection (Media notes). Conway Twitty. Universal City, California: MCA Records. MCAD4-11095. CS1 maint: others (link)
  7. ^ "Conway Twitty Chart History (Hot Country Songs)". Billboard.
  8. ^ Sandall, Robert (21 March 1993). "The straight man". The Sunday Times.
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