21 October 2023

Only in Oz* (17): José Feliciano - Adios Amor (Goodbye, My Love) (1967, 1969)

Another in my series of posts about tracks that were more popular in Australia than in their countries of origin. See also: Only in Melbourne.

*In this case, Only in Oz and NZ.

17. José Feliciano - Adios Amor (Goodbye, My Love)
(Tom Springfield - Norman Newell)
UK 1967, 1969

• RCA Victor single (UK) #1640, reissued on #1794 
• RCA Victor single (Australia) 
#101806: 1967, reissued 1969
• RCA Victor single
 (New Zealand)

UK charts: "Bubbled Under" Top 50 (= #51), Record Retailer, 22 Apr 69 
Australian charts#4 Australia (Kent and Go-Set);
#2 Sydney #5 Melbourne, #26 Sydney, #2 Brisbane, #2 Adelaide, #7 Perth (Gavin Ryan)
New Zealand chart: #3 (Scapolo and Freeman)
USA charts: no single released


Adios Amor (Goodbye, My Love): American artist, British record, Australasian hit.

It charted in Australia early in 1969 (mid-'69 in NZ), a few months after José Feliciano's breakthrough hit record Light My Fire (1968, #14 Australia, #16 NZ, #1 USA, #6 UK). 

Adios Amor was probably seen as a follow-up recording to Light My Fire (1968) but in fact Adios Amor came first. It was initially released in 1967 then re-released in 1969, presumably in response to Light My Fire's success. An ad for Adios Amor's reissue in Britain's New Musical Express in February 1969 overlooked its history and billed it as Feliciano's smash new single.

The two songs are quite different from each other. Light My Fire, released in July 1968, was a jazz-soul-flavoured reworking of The Doors' #1 US hit from the previous year. Adios Amor is a more conventional orchestration of an original ballad, but no less affecting for that, as Australasian audiences clearly found. Just read the heartfelt memories of the song from Australians at YouTube.

NME 15 Feb 1969 [link]

In spite of its Spanish title, Adios Amor has mainly English lyrics. (There are some spoken Spanish words at the very end, as the track fades out.)

It is a British composition, recorded in the UK during Feliciano's sojourn there in 1967, along with another single My Foolish Heart / Only Once.

Adios Amor was released in the UK (and in Australia, NZ, France, Germany and Spain) but there was no US single. As far as I can see, it has not been included on any American José Feliciano compilation, nor did it appear on any regular album at the time. It was on at least one compilation from Australia.

The entirely plausible story goes that producer and co-writer Tom Springfield first proposed Adios Amor as a song for The Seekers but the group turned it down. In later years Seekers lead singer Judith Durham (1943-2022) did perform and release the song, as did a latter-day line-up The Original Seekers.

The José Feliciano we hear singing Adios Amor from a London studio in 1967 was yet to take off in mainstream markets, but he was already a popular Spanish-language artist amongst Latino audiences in the US and South America. He had also released three English-language albums of his own takes on standards, folk songs and pop hits on RCA Victor 1965-1966. 

One of those songs, Hi-Heel Sneakers, on The Voice And Guitar Of José Feliciano (1966), was recorded again to become Feliciano's second Top 40 hit in the US (1968, #25 USA, #24 Australia). The B-side, a cover of Dunn & McCashen's Hitchcock Railway, co-charted in Australia and later had its arrangement openly borrowed by Chris Stainton for Joe Cocker's well-known version (1971).1


The composers of Adios Amor, Tom Springfield and Norman Newell, were both English. Springfield also produced the record. 

Tom Springfield (Dion O'Brien 1934-2022) and his sister Dusty (Mary) had been in The Springfields who had hits with Silver Threads And Golden Needles and Island of Dreams. Tom produced and wrote hit songs for The Seekers including The Carnival Is Over, I'll Never Find Another You, and World Of Our Own.

Norman Newell (1919-2004) was a prominent record producer and songwriter from the post-war 1940s until his retirement in 1990. He worked mainly in the middle-of-the-road segment of the market, often collaborating with arranger and conductor Geoff Love, and often with such major names of post-war British show business as Shirley BasseyRuss Conway, and Des O'Connor. He had a hand in numerous hits, for Petula Clark (Sailor), Laurie London (He's Got the Whole World in His Hands), Adam Faith (What Do You Want?), Matt Munro (Portrait of My Love) and Ken Dodd (Tears). His obituary in The Independent gives a good overview of his varied career.


British group The Casuals released a version of Adios Amor in February 1968 with an arrangement similar to the original. They would finally find success later in the year with Jesamine (#2 UK).

As an album track, Adios Amor was released by Vanity Fare on The Sun, The Wind, And Other Things (UK, 1969) and by Ed Ames on Sing Away The World (USA, 1970). See the list at SecondHandSongs.com.


Thanks to Marc for clarification around British chart positions; details now edited to reflect his comments.

  Chris Stainton tells about how he got to play on The Who's Quadrophenia [from RichieUnterberger.com]: "Pete (Townsend)… seemed to be very impressed by the piano riffs I was playing in (Joe Cocker's) 'Hitchcock Railway,' which I lifted from José Feliciano's version," says Stainton. "He never forgot it and years later asked me to play in that style on the Quadrophenia album." 

José Feliciano - Adios Amor (Goodbye, My Love) (UK single 1967, 1969)

The Casuals - Adios Amor (Goodbye My Love) (UK single 1968)

Judith Durham - Adios Amor (album Mona Lisas, 1996)

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