“I’d Rather Go Blind” is a blues song written by Ellington Jordan and co-credited to Billy Foster. It was first recorded by Etta James in 1967, released in 1968, and has subsequently become regarded as a blues and soul classic.
Etta James wrote in her autobiography Rage To Survive that she heard the song outlined by her friend Ellington “Fugi” Jordan when she visited him in prison. She then wrote the rest of the song with Jordan, but for tax, reasons gave her songwriting credit to her partner at the time, Billy Foster, singer with doo-wop group The Medallions.
Etta James recorded the song at the FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. It was included on the album Tell Mama and as the B-side of the single of the same name which made number 10 on the Billboard R&B charts, and number 23 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song is also on the 1978 Jerry Wexler-produced album Deep in the Night, but there it is titled “Blind Girl” (track 10). Some critics have regarded “I’d Rather Go Blind” as of such emotional and poetic quality that it makes that release one of the great double-sided singles of the period. Critic Dave Marsh put the song in his book The Heart of Rock and Soul: The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made (number 429).
The song was also recorded in 1972 for Never a Dull Moment, the fourth album by Rod Stewart. Etta James refers to Stewart’s version favorably in her autobiography, Rage to Survive.
On May 2014, Rod Stewart was joined by Carlos Santana on stage performing the song which is definitely a great duo.
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