Tears on My Pillow

"Tears on My Pillow" is a doo-wop song written by Sylvester Bradford and Al Lewis in 1958. The composition was first recorded by Little Anthony and the Imperials on End Records and was that group's debut recording under that name. Their original recording of the song became a Billboard top-10 hit, peaking at No. 4, No. 3 in Canada,[1] and was the Imperials' first million-seller. It was also a two-sided hit, with its flip side, "Two People in the World," also becoming a major hit. Although it remains one of the Imperials' signature songs, "Tears on My Pillow" has been extensively covered, including a No. 1 in the UK Singles Chart version by Kylie Minogue in January 1990.[2]

"Tears on My Pillow"
US 78 tears on my pillow little anthony.jpg
The label for the U.S. 78 RPM single
Single by Little Anthony and the Imperials
from the album We Are the Imperials Featuring Little Anthony
B-side"Two People in the World"
ReleasedAugust 1958
Little Anthony and the Imperials singles chronology
"Tears on My Pillow"
"The Glory of Love"
Audio video
"Tears on My Pillow" on YouTube

The Imperials' original versionEdit

Early copies of the single were credited simply to "The Imperials," a group which had previously been known as "The Duponts" and "The Chesters." Brooklyn, New York deejay Alan Freed gave the group's lead singer, Anthony Gourdine, top billing while introducing the single over the air and the moniker of "Little Anthony and the Imperials" stuck.

"Tears on My Pillow" was a #4 hit single in the United States. Selling over a million copies, "Tears on My Pillow" was the most successful single of the Imperials' doo wop period. Its success would be matched only by the Imperials' 1964 single "Goin' Out of My Head." The Imperials ("Little Anthony" Gourdine, Clarence Collins, Ernest Wright, Tracy Lord, and Nate Rogers - the last two of whom were later replaced by Sammy Strain) performed the song on numerous TV programs, including The Dick Clark Show [3] and on the PBS Oldies special, Rock, Rhythm, and Doo-Wop in 1958 and 2002 respectively. They also performed the tune on the American Bandstand 40th Anniversary Special (also in 2002).[4][5]


The song has been covered many times, most notably by Kylie Minogue and also by Johnny Tillotson in 1969, his version reaching No. 119 U.S. Billboard, #98 Cash Box and #94 in Canada.

The song was also performed by Sha Na Na in the movie Grease from 1978 and included on the soundtrack.

In 2003, the song was revived and included on the S Club 8 album Sundown. The group of teens also performed it on GreaseMania.

Other usesEdit

"Tears on My Pillow" is referenced by Dean Friedman in his 1977 hit song "Ariel." It is included in the lyrics, "I met a young girl, she sang mighty fine, 'Tears on My Pillow' and 'Ave Maria'."

The song was also used in the season one seventh episode of Sliders entitled "The Weaker Sex," which originally aired as episode six. The character Rembrandt Brown (played by Cleavant Derricks) sings the song repeatedly on the street in an effort to raise money for a motel room.

Kylie Minogue versionEdit

"Tears on My Pillow"
Single by Kylie Minogue
from the album Enjoy Yourself
  • "We Know the Meaning of Love"
  • "Nothing to Lose"
ReleasedJanuary 8, 1990
StudioLondon, England
Producer(s)Stock Aitken Waterman
Kylie Minogue singles chronology
"Never Too Late"
"Tears on My Pillow"
"Better the Devil You Know"
Music video
"Tears on My Pillow" on YouTube

Australian singer Kylie Minogue released a cover of "Tears on My Pillow" as the final single from her second studio album, Enjoy Yourself, on January 8, 1990. Minogue's cover was also included on the soundtrack of the film The Delinquents, which she also starred in. The song reached No. 1 on the UK Singles Chart for one week in January 1990,[2] the final British chart topper by super producers Stock Aitken Waterman (SAW),[6] and reached No. 35 on the Canadian Adult Contemporary Chart.

Critical receptionEdit

Bill Coleman from Billboard wrote, "Aussie lass offers a faithful reading of the Little Anthony & the Imperials classic. Pop and AC programmers should take note."[7] A reviewer from Music & Media said the song "has been re-interpreted in a wholly predictable way."[8] The track's B-side, a brand new track, "We Know The Meaning of Love", has been cited as one of SAW's best flip sides, and a landmark in Minogue's musical progression ahead of the release of her more mature third album, Rhythm of Love.[6]

Music videoEdit

The accompanying music video for "Tears on My Pillow" shows Kylie in a black dress with a Brigitte Bardot hairstyle singing the song. It is inter-cut with clips from the 1989 film The Delinquents.

Live performancesEdit

Minogue performed the song on the following concert tours:

The song was also performed on:

Track listingsEdit

CD single

  1. "Tears on My Pillow" - 2:33
  2. "We Know the Meaning of Love" (Extended) - 5:50
  3. "Tears on My Pillow" (More Tears Mix) - 4:14

7-inch vinyl single

  1. "Tears on My Pillow" - 2:28
  2. "We Know the Meaning of Love" - 3:25

12-inch vinyl single

  1. "Tears on My Pillow" (More Tears Mix) - 4:14
  2. "We Know the Meaning of Love" (Extended) - 5:50

US and Canadian cassette

  1. "Tears on My Pillow" - 2:33
  2. "Nothing to Lose" - 3:20

Charts and certificationEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "CHUM Top 20 - October 13, 1958".
  2. ^ a b Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 510. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  3. ^ Little Anthony "Tears on My Pillow". November 30, 2012. Archived from the original on December 21, 2021 – via YouTube.
  4. ^ Little Anthony & The Imperials Medley. November 16, 2011 – via YouTube.[dead YouTube link]
  5. ^ "Little Anthony and the Imperials".
  6. ^ a b "‎A Journey Through Stock Aitken Waterman: Ep 53: Tears On My Pillow (and We Know The Meaning Of Love) on Apple Podcasts". Apple Podcasts. Retrieved June 5, 2023.
  7. ^ Coleman, Bill (April 14, 1990). "Single Reviews" (PDF). Billboard. p. 77. Retrieved October 28, 2020.
  8. ^ "Previews: Singles" (PDF). Music & Media. February 3, 1990. p. 16. Retrieved November 3, 2020.
  9. ^ "Kylie Minogue – Tears on My Pillow". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved February 20, 2018.
  10. ^ "Kylie Minogue – Tears on My Pillow" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved February 20, 2018.
  11. ^ "Top RPM Adult Contemporary: Issue 1240." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved February 20, 2018.
  12. ^ "Eurochart Hot 100 Singles". Music & Media. Vol. 7, no. 5. February 3, 1990. p. IV. OCLC 29800226.
  13. ^ "Kylie Minogue: Tears on My Pillow" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat. Retrieved February 20, 2018.
  14. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Tears on My Pillow". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved February 20, 2018.
  15. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – week 11, 1990" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40. Retrieved February 20, 2018.
  16. ^ "Kylie Minogue – Tears on My Pillow" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved February 20, 2018.
  17. ^ "Kylie Minogue – Tears on My Pillow". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved February 20, 2018.
  18. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2.
  19. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved February 20, 2018.
  20. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Kylie Minogue – Tears on My Pillow". GfK Entertainment charts. Retrieved February 20, 2018.
  21. ^ "Eurochart Hot 100 of 1990" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 7, no. 51. December 22, 1990. p. 60. OCLC 29800226. Retrieved February 12, 2019 – via World Radio History.
  22. ^ "1990 Top 100 Singles". Music Week. London, England: Spotlight Publications. March 2, 1991. p. 41.
  23. ^ Myers, Justin (March 15, 2014). "Kylie Minogue's Official Number 1 Singles' Sales Revealed!". Official Charts Company. Archived from the original on July 1, 2017. Retrieved October 11, 2011.
  24. ^ "British single certifications – Kylie Minogue – Tears on My Pillow". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved March 27, 2021.