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Tell It Like It Is (song)

"Tell It Like It Is"
Single by Aaron Neville
B-side "Why Worry"
Released November 9, 1966
Format 7" single
Recorded 1965
Genre R&B/Pop
Length 2:40
Label Par-Lo Records
Writer(s) George Davis
Lee Diamond
Aaron Neville singles chronology
"Over You"
"Tell It Like It Is"
"She Took You for a Ride"
"Tell It Like It Is"
Single by Heart
from the album Greatest Hits Live
B-side "Strange Euphoria"
Released November 1980
Format 7" single
Recorded September, 1980
Genre Rock
Length 3:48
Label Epic
Writer(s) George Davis
Lee Diamond
Producer(s) Heart
Heart singles chronology
"Bebe le Strange"
"Tell It Like It Is"
"Unchained Melody"
"Tell It Like It Is"
Single by Billy Joe Royal
from the album Tell It Like It Is
B-side "I Was Losing You"
Released January 1989
Format 7"
Recorded October 1988
Genre Country
Length 3:00
Label Atlantic 45301
Writer(s) George Davis and Lee Diamond
Producer(s) Nelson Larkin
Billy Joe Royal singles chronology
"It Keeps Right On Hurtin'"
"Tell It Like It Is"
"Love Has No Right"

"Tell It Like It Is" is a song written by George Davis and Lee Diamond and originally recorded and released in 1966 by Aaron Neville. In 2004, the song was ranked #381 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.[1]


  • Original version 1
  • Select cover versions 2
  • Other songs with the same title 3
  • Chart performance 4
    • Aaron Neville 4.1
    • Billy Joe Royal 4.2
      • Year-end charts 4.2.1
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Original version

In 1966, Aaron Neville recorded and released the original version of "Tell It Like It Is" on his album also entitled Tell It Like It Is (Par-Lo Records). In November 1966, the track was issued as a single which peaked in early 1967 at #1 on the US R&B chart and #2 on the US Billboard Hot 100.[2] the personnel on the original recording included George Davis arranging and playing Baritone Sax, Emory Thomas on trumpet, Deacon John on guitar, Alvin Red Tyler on tenor sax, Willie Tee played piano and June Gardner on drums.

Select cover versions

Since Aaron Neville's original 1966 version, the song has been covered by numerous artists including the following:

  • 1967: Otis Redding and Carla Thomas covered the song on their 1967 album entitled King & Queen.
  • 1967: Percy Sledge covered the track on his 1967 album, The Percy Sledge Way.
  • 1967: The South African band, The Flames, covered it on their album, "Burning Soul!"
  • 1967: Dallas Frazier covered it on his second album "Tell it like it is".
  • 1968: Archie Campbell and Lorene Mann, on their 1968 album of the same name. This version peaked at number 31 on the country singles charts.
  • 1969: George Benson covered the song on his 1969 album of the same name.
  • 1971: Nina Simone released a rendition of the song on her 1971 album entitled Here Comes The Sun
  • 1976: John Wesley Ryles released the song as a single in 1976 which reached #83 on the US Country chart.
  • 1976: Pop singer Andy Williams released a single of the track in 1976 which peaked at #72.
  • 1976: Freddy Fender released the track on his 1978 album titled Swamp Gold.
  • 1980: Heart released the song as a single in 1980 which reached #8 in the United States.
  • 1989: Billy Joe Royal released a version of the song as a single in 1989 which reached #2 on the US Country chart.
  • 1989: Appearing on the album entitled Let It Roll, actor Don Johnson released the track as a single in 1989 throughout Europe with the highest peaking at #2 on the German Singles chart.
  • 1997: Saxophonist Michael Lington covered the song on his self-titled, debut album.[3]
  • 2002: The Dirty Dozen Brass Band with Robert Randolph covered the song on The Dirty Dozen's 2002 album, Medicated Magic.
  • 2010: Michael McDonald covered the track on his 2010 album titled The Voice of Michael McDonald.

Other songs with the same title

In 1958, Little Willie John composed and released a different song with the same title. Additionally, both Tracy Chapman and Lightnin' Hopkins each have written and released an unrelated song with the same title.

Chart performance

Aaron Neville

Chart (1966) Peak
Canadian RPM Top Singles 96
Canadian RPM Adult Contemporary Tracks 2
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 2
U.S. Billboard Hot Rhythm & Blues Singles 1

Billy Joe Royal

Chart (1989) Peak
Canada Country Tracks (RPM)[4] 2
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[5] 2

Year-end charts

Chart (1989) Position
Canada Country Tracks (RPM)[6] 36
US Country Songs (Billboard)[7] 51


  1. ^ "The RS 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". Retrieved 2008-09-10. 
  2. ^  
  3. ^ "Michael Lington overview".  
  4. ^ "Top RPM Country Tracks." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. May 1, 1989. Retrieved August 28, 2013.
  5. ^ "Billy Joe Royal Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Hot Country Songs for Billy Joe Royal.
  6. ^ "RPM Top 100 Country Tracks of 1989".  
  7. ^ "Best of 1989: Country Songs".  
8. ^

External links

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