Only A Fool (Breaks His Own Heart) | Mighty Sparrow | Trinidad 1966

Tonight just before midnight (11/16/2011) Deso, aka Mr. Desmond (Desmond Peters), of Wack radio received a call requesting a song by Brook Benton - "Only A Fool Breaks His Own Heart". Deso quickly stated that the song was originally sung by Slinger Francisco (Sparrow, the Calypso King of the World). Now Deso was partially correct, and like most people may have erroneously believed that to be true because of an error made in Holland.

Now lets slow down; I did not know who sang the song originally but I know that "The Birdie" went to number one on the Dutch charts and sold over a million copies to date. So what happened? Who wrote the song and who was the original singer?

Well there is an interesting article providing information on the song, the song writer and the original demo and singer. Here are some bits of information in the story line.

The song was, Only A Fool Breaks His Own Heart was composed in Brooklyn, New York in 1964. The song writers were Norman Bergen and Shelly Coburn. The Demo of the song was (for Unites Artists Music) was done with studio players Frank Owens, on the piano, and Kenny Daren doing the vocals.

The demo apparently was then taken to Hy Weiss at Old Town Records for jazz singer Arthur Prsock. Prysock's vocals were added to the demo plus strings arranged by Mort Garson and this, dear friends was the first release of the song in 1965.

Then came Slinger Francisco, "The Mighty Sparrow" who did his cover version with Byron Lee as "Only A Fool" in 1966. The song took some time to catch on but when it did it was an instant hit in Holland that led to the song appearing in a U.S Trade magazine at #8 in Holland. The record went to #1 with the incorrect information regarding the writer and publisher that credited Slinger Francisco (Sparrow) as such. This was later corrected. Some people out there may have copies of the recording crediting Sparrow and this could have lead to the misunderstanding regarding the writer of the song.

A number of other singers have since recorded the song.However it should be noted that the original version Sparrow sung with Byron Lee was later re-issued in Holland (1977) and spent 22 weeks on the charts. Again the song was redone by Sparrow in 1978 in the UK. This was a totally new recording that sold 2 million copies in the Caribbean islands!

This should help those whom are conflicted regarding the composer(s) of the song, the original release and singer and Sparrow's double success with the song in Holland and the Caribbean (two different versions). Information sourced from: Wikipedia/Only A Fool Breaks His Own Heart.

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Norman said…
Thank you for reporting the correct information about this song. There are also many other great versions including Tom Jones and Nick Lowe.