Zutons singer reveals he warned Amy Winehouse her version of ‘Valerie’ would flop

The 2007 cover produced by Mark Ronson remains a firm favourite among Winehouse fans


Amy Winehouse's and Mark Ronson's cover of 'Valerie' features the star's powerful soul vocals against a driving bassline (Photo: Getty)

Amy Winehouse and Mark Ronson made the song “Valerie” world-famous, but the lead singer of the band who wrote the original track was so concerned the cover version would flop he warned the pair “lightning doesn’t strike twice”.

Featuring on The Zutons’ second album Tired of Hanging Around in 2006, the anthemic song was inspired by a friend of frontman Dave McCabe’s named Valerie who had had told him she was in trouble for driving under the influence.

Winehouse’s and Ronson’s 2007 cover was recorded in New York, the last song cut for Ronson’s second album Version.

On first hearing their interpretation of the track, McCabe recalled in an interview with the Guardian that he told the duo: “I don’t think it’s going to do very well, because we just had a massive hit with it and lightning doesn’t strike twice.”

The song went on to reach number two in the UK singles chart and remains one of Winehouse’s most popular tracks.

Reflecting on the track, Ronson told the Guardian Winehouse had come to New York to meet the Dap Kings who had played on her legendary album Back to Black, and the producer, who was keen for her to feature on Version, suggested recording it. Already a fan of the song, Winehouse agreed.

“Just as we were packing up, I said: ‘Guys, you’ll want to kill me, but could we do just another version with a Motown backbeat?’” Ronson said.

That version, featuring Winehouse’s powerful soul vocals and a driving bassline, has since been streamed on Spotify 452 million times, eight times more than the original.

Commenting on the track’s upbeat style, Ronson said the tune offered a glimpse into Winehouse’s lighter side: “‘Valerie’ is the one song Amy sings that’s devoid of the pain and torment in her own music, which is why it’s such a beloved piece of her. You can forget the sadness and tragedy and just celebrate her voice,” he said.

McCabe is said to have made so much money from the Ronson/Winehouse version of his song that he was able to buy his first house.

When the star died in 2011 aged 27, the song found an even bigger audience. “I remember loads of people texting me money emojis,” McCabe recently told The Independent in a separate interview.

He also recalled how prior to her cover version, Winehouse ran down the road after him following a house party in Camden to compliment him on his songwriting skills: “She goes, ‘Come back! I love that song Valerie! I didn’t realise it was you who wrote that!’... The next thing I hear, Amy’s covering our song.”

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