This song is a memorable classic golden oldie with somewhat of a Latin flair. Smile and dance with others this evening, but “don’t forget who’s taking you home / and in whose arms you’re gonna be.” The song, written by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman, comes from a personal experience. Doc Pomus had polio and was in a wheelchair. On the night of his wedding, he saw his wife Willi Burke, a Broadway actress and dancer, dance with others, but, at the end of the night, he knew that she would go home with him. The song incorporates wonderful Latin rhythms. The track was produced by the famous team of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, who had successful songs with many artists , including Ben E. King as a solo artist, The Coasters, Elvis Presley, and more. Leiber and Stoller wrote in many genres, from R&B to doo wop to rock and roll to pop. In 1960, the song was #1 on both the Billboard Hot 100 and the R&B Chart. It is on Rolling Stone’s list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
“Save the Last Dance for Me” is on Rolling Stone’s list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.” And there are been a plethora of covers, including versions by Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton, Michael Bublé, Jay and the Americans, Buck Owens, Jerry Lee Lewis, Ike & Tina Turner, Harry Nilsson, Patti LaBelle, The Neatbeats, The Troggs, and many more. In 1960, the Texas soul singer Damita Jo released an answer song called “I’ll Save The Last Dance For You,” which hit #22 in the US.
Membership in The Drifters changed many times through the years, and Ben E. King began a solo career after singing lead with them for a while.