"I Pity the Fool" is a song originally recorded by Bobby Bland in 1961 for Duke Records. The song was credited to Deadric Malone, a pseudonym of Duke Records owner Don Robey.[1] David Bowie covered it under the name The Manish Boys in 1965 and it was released as his second single.

According to author Charles Farley, the song was actually written by Joe Medwick (born Joseph Medwick Veasey), who would regularly sell his completed songs, which also included "Farther Up the Road", to Robey for small sums (recollections of the sum vary between $5 and $100).[2]


 [hide*1 Bobby Bland version

Bobby Bland version[edit]Edit

The recording was made in Houston, Texas in 1960 probably with Joe Scott and Melvin Jackson on trumpets, Pluma Davis on trombone, Robert Skinner and L.A. Hill on tenor saxophone, Rayfield Devers on baritone saxophone, Teddy Raynolds on piano, Wayne Bennett on guitar, Hamp Simmons on bass, John "Jabo" Starks on drums and with unknown flute, choir and strings.[3][4]

Bland was enjoying a highly successful point of his career, at the time sending five consecutive songs into the Billboard R&B chart. The song "I Pity the Fool" became one of his biggests hits of his career, topping the R&B chart and also reaching #48 on the pop chart.[5]

The Manish Boys (with David Bowie) version[edit]Edit

"I Pity the Fool"
Single by The Manish Boys
B-side "Take My Tip"
Released March 5, 1965
Format 7" single
Recorded IBC StudiosLondon
Genre Rhythm and blues
Length 2:08
Label ParlophoneR5250
Writer(s) Deadric Malone
Producer(s) Shel Talmy
David Bowie singles chronology
"Liza Jane"

Davie Jones & the King Bees (1964)

"I Pity the Fool"

The Manish Boys (1965)

"You've Got a Habit of Leaving"

Davy Jones & the Lower Third (1965)

The Manish Boys' (at that time featuring David Bowie) version was released in 1965. The recording was produced by Shel Talmy, who was also producing the early singles and albums by The Who and The KinksJimmy Page was Talmy's regular session musician and he played the guitar solo on "I Pity the Fool".

During these sessions Page gave Bowie a guitar riff, which he didn't know what to do with. Bowie later used this guitar riff in two different songs, first on "The Supermen" from 1971 and second on "Dead Man Walking" from 1997.[citation needed]

The B-side, "Take My Tip" was the first song written by David Bowie (then known and credited as Davie Jones) to be released on record. [6]

Track listing[edit]Edit

  1. "I Pity the Fool" (Malone) - 2:08
  2. "Take My Tip" (Davie Jones) – 2:15

Production credits[edit]Edit

Other singles and compilations[edit]Edit

  • Both the A and B-side was re-released by EMI in the UK in March 1979 on one side of a 7". On the B-side of this re-release was "You've Got a Habit of Leaving" and "Baby Loves That Way". This version was again released by See For Miles Records in the UK in October 1982, and as a 12" picture disc in June 1985. The re-release by See For Miles in 1982 took the edge off a collector's market since EMI's March 1979 reissue disappeared almost as quickly as it had arrived.
  • Both tracks appear on the CD compilation Early On (1964-1966) from 1991, but both have alternate vocals.

Other covers[edit]Edit

  • The Paul Butterfield Blues Band recorded a version of this song on their Resurrection of Pigboy Crabshaw album in 1967.
  • Ann Peebles recorded a version in 1971 that reached no.18 on the R&B chart and no.85 on the US pop chart.
  • Cyndi Lauper sang the song live in 1993 on The Jack Dee Show.
  • Another version of "I Pity the Fool" by popular blues musician Robert Cray gained some fame and popularity as well, with the release of Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues in 2003. Additional vocals were delivered by Shemekia Copeland. The same version was latterly used for the score of Antoine Fuqua's documentary Lightning In A Bottle (released as a soundtrack in the US in September 2004).
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