“Love Hurts” is a song written and composed by the American songwriter Boudleaux Bryant. First recorded by The Everly Brothers in July 1960, the song is also well known from a 1975 international hit version by the Scottish hard rock band Nazareth and in the UK by a top five hit in 1975 by the English singer Jim Capaldi.
The song was introduced in December 1960 as an album track on A Date with The Everly Brothers but was never released as a single (A-side or B-side) by the Everlys. The first hit version of the song was by Roy Orbison, who earned Australian radio play, hitting the Top Five of that country’s singles charts in 1961. A recording by Emmylou Harris and Gram Parsons was included on Parsons’ posthumously released Grievous Angel album. After Parsons’ 1973 death, Harris made the song a staple of her repertoire and has included it in her concert setlists from the 1970s to the present. Harris has since re-recorded the song twice.
The most successful recording of the song was by hard rock band Nazareth, who took the song to the U.S. Top 10 in 1975 and hit number one in Norway and the Netherlands. In the UK the most successful version of the song was by former Traffic member Jim Capaldi, who took it to number four in the charts in November 1975 during an 11-week run. The song was also covered by Cher in 1975 for her album Stars. Cher re-recorded the song in 1991 for her album of the same name. Rod Stewart recorded the song in 2006 for his album Still the Same… Great Rock Classics of Our Time which was No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart.
Performed as a power ballad, the Nazareth version was the most popular version of the song and the only rendition of “Love Hurts” to become a hit single in the United States, reaching No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 in early 1976. Billboard ranked it as the No. 23 song for 1976. As part of the “Hot Tracks (EP),” it also reached No. 15 in the UK in 1977.Nazareth’s version was an international hit, peaking at No. 1 in Canada, the Netherlands, Belgium, South Africa and Norway, and remains the best-known recording of the song. The Nazareth single was so successful in Norway that it charted for 61 weeks on the Norwegian charts (VG-Lista Top 10), including 14 weeks at No. 1, making it the top single of all time in that country.
A later recording by Nazareth, featuring the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra, peaked at No. 89 in Germany.
The lyrics of the song remained unchanged on all versions up until Nazareth’s 1975 recording, where the original line “love is like a stove/it burns you when it’s hot” was changed to “love is like a flame/it burns you when it’s hot”.
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