This song was written by Sonny Bono on a piece of cardboard in 1964/5 in his basement one night for him to perform as a duet with the singer Cher who was his wife at the time. They had both been working for Phil Spector as backing singers before they had decided to branch out as a duo and this followed their “Baby Don’t Go” which had only achieved minor success on its initial release but later became No.1 when it was re-released. William Ruhmann of Allmusic magazine later wrote about it being Bono’s “opposite sentiment” of “It Ain’t Me Babe” written by Bob Dylan in 1964 and later a hit for The Turtles.
The recording was made with Hal Blaine on drums and was released on the Atco label in 1965 with “It’s Gonna Rain” on the other side. It rocketed to the Top 10s of many of the world’s charts including reaching No. 1 in the USA, the UK and Canada and became their biggest hit. Later that year it was included on their debut album Look At Us.
It didn’t take long before it was being used by others and one of the first was when it was the original version but being lip-synched by The Rolling Stones who were wearing costumes for a performance on the TV programme Ready Steady Go! The cover versions of the song started to come in thick and fast for inclusion on albums by other artists and some of these are Merrill Bainbridge & Shaggy, David Bowie & Marianne Faithfull, The Cynics, The Dictators, Etta James, Manfred Mann, The Ramones and Tiny Tim along with several others including Cher who re-recorded it with the animated characters Beavis & Butthead.
In 1985 it was covered by the group UB40 who duetted with Chrissie Hynde and released it on their album Baggriddim and The Pretenders’ The Singles. It was issued as a single with their “Theme from Labour of Love” on the B-Side of the 7” and “Red Red Wine” on the 12”. This saw the second time that the song had major chart success when it made it to the No. 1 spot in the UK along with Australia, Ireland and New Zealand.
Another 19 years down the line and it was used for a Christmas single by Leigh Francis, aka Avid Merrion from the comedy series Bo’Selecta. He was joined by the female celebrities Davina MCall and Patsy Kensit and together they watched it go up the UK singles chart and reach No. 5.
It has featured in countless television programmes and movies including its memorable use in the alarm clock scenes in Groundhog Day. an episode of The David Letterman Show in 1987 being the last time it was performed by Sonny & Cher themselves. The Rolling Stonemagazine has listed it as No. 444 in their 500 Greatest Songs.