Brenda Lee - Fool Number 1





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Published on Sep 2, 2009

Brenda Lee asks the eternal question. The song was smash hit that reached #3 on the Hot 100. It quickly became a country standard with many cover versions. Brenda's version was recorded at 16 years of age. After 50 years, It still has not been approached by any other singer. The single was released on 25 Sept 1961 and the video is from 19 Nov 1961, three weeks before her seventeenth birthday.

(words and music by Kathryn R. Fulton)
Am I fool number one or am I fool number two
How many other girls have been fooled by you
I suppose that the number is far from being small
And I'll bet that I'm the biggest fool of all

If I had the chance I guess I'd do it all again
I'd go down that same old road
even knowing at the end
You'll leave me when your heart hears
a new love call
So I guess that I'm the biggest fool of all

Am I fool number one or am I fool number two
How many other girls have been fooled by you
I suppose that the number is far from being small
And I guess that I'm the biggest fool of all

Mr C's Amazin' Fact #1
The hit records "Fool No. 1", "Break It to Me Gently", "Anybody But Me" and "So Deep" were recorded on the same night at the Bradley Studios in Nashville. (Session players were Grady Martin, Harold Bradley, Bob Moore, Buddy Harman, Floyd Cramer, Boots Randolph, with extra horns, a string section and the Anita Kerr Singers. Producer: Owen Bradley) . The date was 30 August 1961. Brenda Lee was 16 yrs old.

Amazin' Fact #2
On the previous day, August 29, Brenda Lee recorded three songs. Two went unreleased and the other track, "Here Comes That Feeling", went nearly unnoticed, peaking at #89 on the Hot 100. However, the song was released in the UK a couple of months later and became one of her biggest hits there, reaching #5 on the UK chart. The total for the two day session was five releases, five hits.

Amazin' Fact #3
Owen Bradley first heard Fool #1 on a demo tape by an unknown singer. Bradley thought the singer too "country", but he wanted the song for Brenda Lee. Brenda, in a 1962 interview, recalled the Fool #1 demo as "some girl and an out of tune piano". The Wilburn brothers were the song's publishers and would not release Fool #1 without a contract for the demo singer. Bradley finally gave in and signed the raw talent. Her name was Loretta Lynn. Supposedly, Bradley told Doyle Wilburn to "get all that Uncle Remus talk out of her" before they recorded. Later, Bradley remarked that it was the best deal he ever made. At this point in time, then, Owen Bradley was producing records for Brenda Lee, Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn and Kitty Wells.

Amazin' Fact #4
Brenda Lee recorded Fool #1 in four languages. Besides English, there is "La Première" in French, "Geh' Am Glück Nicht Vorbei" in German, and "Sono Sciocca" in Italian.

Amazin' Fact #5
The French, Italian and German versions of the song were recorded in one session on 30 November 1961 in Nashville. Brenda Lee has a great facility for learning languages, but usually doesn't mention it. One evening, Brenda's own adult daughter was surprised to find her speaking fluent French to the maître d' .

Amazin' Fact #6
A few days after Brenda's session, Patsy Cline came in to do the vocal on a song that she could not complete some weeks earlier. She was experiencing severe pain due to injuries from an automobile accident. Now sufficiently healed, Cline's first take of the day was used on the record. The song was "Crazy" by Willie Nelson.

Amazin' Fact #7
Despite singing some monster hits with a country beat, Brenda Lee was shut out of the country market. "Fool #1", "As Usual", "Too Many Rivers" and "Coming on Strong" are considered "Kountry Klassics" today, but were not played on Country radio stations at the time. In fact, no Brenda Lee recording made the country charts between 1957 and 1969.

Amazin' Fact #8
Elvis Presley's first eleven hits for RCA were also hits on the country charts, but soon even his records were rejected by the establishment. He, like Brenda, was off the Country charts by the time the sixties rolled around.

Amazin' Fact #9
Fool No 1 reached only #38 in the UK. Brenda tended to have different hits in different countries.

Amazin' Fact #10
Fool stalled at number 3. Occupying the second spot was the classic "Runaround Sue" by Dion, a former #1 song. In the top spot was "Big, Bad John" by Jimmy Dean which somehow spent four weeks at the top (November 6 -- December 4, 1961), despite being a novelty song.

Hear Brenda and Loretta Lynn discuss the song:

Owen Bradley remembered the original title as "The Biggest Fool of All".

The B-side was "Anybody But Me" which was also a top 40 hit, reaching #31 on the Hot 100.


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