‘When A Man Loves A Woman’: The Story Behind The Cover

On 'American Idol,' Michael Lynche put his spin on Percy Sledge's #1 hit.

In 1966, R&B singer Percy Sledge’s “When a Man Loves a Woman” rose to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Almost 25 years later, Michael Bolton covered the tune and brought it back to the top of the singles chart. And on Tuesday night, “American Idol” hopeful Michael Lynche hauled out the song for Billboard #1 hits theme week.

The judges weren’t entirely impressed with Lynche’s soulful rendition — Kara DioGuardi called it “lounge-y and overindulgent” — but there’s no doubt people were talking about Big Mike and his performance after the show.

“When a Man Loves a Woman,” reportedly inspired by a difficult breakup, became Sledge’s first hit when he recorded the song in 1966. The tune held the #1 Hot 100 spot for two weeks before ceding the ground to the Rolling Stone’s “Paint It Black” (which Siobhan Magnus covered on the show last week). Rolling Stone magazine would later dub it the 54th greatest song of all time.

In November 1991, Bolton’s cover of “When a Man Loves a Woman” nabbed the top Billboard spot for a week, until P.M. Dawn’s “Set Adrift on Memory Bliss” replaced it. The song later won Bolton a Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Performance.

Sledge’s and Bolton’s recordings are the two most well-known versions of the song, but it has been covered by many other artists, including Bette Midler, Jerry Lee Lewis and Art Garfunkel. In 1994, Andy Garcia and Meg Ryan starred in a feature film titled “When a Man Loves a Woman,” which followed a wife’s struggle with alcoholism. The tune was also used in 1992′s “The Crying Game” and an episode of “The Wonder Years.”

Which version of “When a Man Loves a Woman” is your favorite? Was it the right choice for Big Mike? Sound off below.

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