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You Give Me Fever

Updated on December 28, 2012

Fever: A Slinky Standard

Little Willie John had a Top 25 hit on the US charts in 1956 with Fever, a song written by Eddie Cooley and Otis Blackwell (under the name John Davenport). Two years later, Peggy Lee recorded her own version of the song with somewhat different lyrics, reaching number eight on those same charts and burning the song into the minds of millions. Two years after that, Elvis recorded his own cover of Fever. (Is it just me, or can you hear him thinking, "Hunka hunka burnin' love," between verses?)

In the ensuing fifty-plus years, the songs has fired the imaginations of the singers of all kinds of music. There are few other songs that have been covered by everyone from The Cramps to Michael Buble, from George Clinton to Sarah Vaughan. The interpretations vary wildly, but the fuel for the fire remains the same.

If you want a straightforward list of the dozens of performers who have recorded cover versions of Fever, you can see them at Wikipedia. If you want to hear them, read the lyrics, and otherwise enjoy the song itself, please keep reading. Vote for your favorite version, while you're hear, and drop a note sharing your memories of the song as well.

The Original Lyrics for Fever

As Performed by Little Willie John

Never know how much I love you

Never know how much I care

When you put your arms around me

I get a feeling that's so hard to bear


You give me fever

When you kiss me

Fever when you hold me tight

Fever in the morning

And fever all through the night

Listen to me baby

Hear every word I say

No one can love you the way I do

'Cause they don't know how to love you my way


Bless my soul I love you

Take this heart away

Take these arms I'll never use

And just believe in what my lips have to say


Sun lights up the daytime

Moon lights up the night

My eyes light up when you call my name

'Cause I know your gonna treat me right


Music Videos to Give You Fever - From Peggy Lee to A Fine Frenzy, Madonna to Elvis

I imagine a lot of folks were surprised to hear this relatively-racy song come from sweet little Peggy Lee, but it turned out to be one of her biggest hits. More modern versions from Madonna and Beyonce have played up the physical implications of the lyrics without taking notice of the fact that the only actual contact consists of a simple kiss and hug. That said, one can read pretty clearly into those implications, especially with the sultry horns in the best versions. The cover from A Fine Frenzy is so good that I made her my Music of the Month for November, 2009.

What Kind of Fever Are We Getting?

The Lyrics for the Peggy Lee Version

The version that Peggy Lee and Elvis recorded was changed to include the Romeo and Juliet and Pocahontas and John Smith references. They kept the great "ba-boom" bass line, though.

Never know how much I love you

Never know how much I care

When you put your arms around me

I get a fever that's so hard to bear

You give me fever

When you kiss me

Fever when you hold me tight

Fever in the mornin'

Fever all through the night

Sun lights up the day time

Moon lights up the night

I light up when you call my name

And you know I'm gonna treat you right

You give me fever

When you kiss me

Fever when you hold me tight

Fever in the mornin'

Fever all through the night

Everybody's got the fever

That is somethin' you all know

Fever isn't such a new thing

Fever started long ago

Romeo loved Juliet

Juliet she felt the same

When he put his arms around her

He said, "Julie baby your my flame

Thou giveth fever

When we kisseth

Fever with thy flaming youth

Fever, I'm a fire

Fever yeah I burn for sooth"

Captain Smith and Pocahontas

Had a very mad affair

When her daddy tried to kill him

She said Daddy, "Oh don't you dare

He gives me fever

With his kisses

Fever when he holds me tight

Fever, I'm his Missus

Daddy won't you treat him right?"

Now you've listened to my story

Here's the point that I have made

Chicks were born to give you fever

Be it Fahrenheit or centigrade

They give you fever

When you kiss them

Fever if you live you learn

Fever 'til you sizzle

But what a lovely way to burn

What a lovely way to burn

What a lovely way to burn

What a lovely way to burn

Sample More Cover Versions of Fever

You can try and buy many of the versions of Fever that are included in the the videos above as well as more for which no videos were posted. The song has been a long-standing favorite of musicians wishing to express their desire and so has been re-imagined in many different genres. I've chosen surf rock, R & B, punk, swing, and dance versions of the song, in order to emphasize the variety of bands and singers who have shared their fever with audiences over the years.

Who Performs Your Favorite Version of Fever? - Do you prefer Peggy Lee or Madonna?

Whose Fever Is the Hottest?

See results

Please drop me a note sharing your memories of Fever, the genius of Peggy Lee, Elvis, Willie John, or any of the other performers, or anything else you'd like to share. Thanks for stopping by!

Who Gave You Fever? - What Do You Remember about the Song?

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    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      think i heard it on "MY NAME IS EARL" SUNG BY EDDIE STEEPLES & OTHERS. been trying to find where i could buy a C.D. of it. pretty sure that is the song he sang. along with others like jaime pressley & nadine valezquez. let me know if you know where i could find it

    • hughgrissettsr lm profile image

      hughgrissettsr lm 6 years ago

      great lens! love little willie john the best, but if he is a 10, i give peggy lee a 9, and elvis an 8.

    • Board-Game-Brooke profile image

      C A Chancellor 7 years ago from US/TN

      Great song! Blessed.

    • CCGAL profile image

      CCGAL 7 years ago

      Love this song ... the first version I ever heard was Peggy Lee's, but I enjoyed all of the versions here. My favorite one, though, I have to say, was Rita Moreno and the Muppets. I am sitting in the library, and it was very hard to not let my giggles out ... I got some looks as I tried to stifle my mirth. Great lens - **Blessed by a Squid Angel** (on my last day of duty)

    • indigoj profile image

      Indigo Janson 7 years ago from UK

      Any of them... somehow this one never grows old but just gets reinvented.

    • Bus Stop Toy Shop profile image

      Bus Stop Toy Shop 7 years ago

      Great song - the Peggy Lee version is always the one I think of first.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Love this old song...didn't think about just how old it is. My all time favorite version of Fever is still by Peggy Lee.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      You Give Me Fever, what a great old song. Love it!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      A music professor once insisted that Peggy Lee wrote "Fever", while I told her that Little Willie John had already recorded the song (with lyrics). Ms. Lee said that she only heard an instumental version of the song in a club and that SHE had written the lyrics to the song. She never gave Little Willie John credit for the song and that has always infuriated me.

    • profile image

      poutine 7 years ago

      I go with Elvis on this one.

      Of course I must say that I am a big Elvis's fan.

    • Not-Pop profile image

      Not-Pop 8 years ago

      Thanks so much, all of you. Fever is really flying, now!

    • Mihaela Vrban profile image

      Mihaela Vrban 8 years ago from Croatia

      Beautiful lens tribute to perfect song! Love it! Blessed by an Angel!

    • LisaMarieGabriel profile image

      Lisa Marie Gabriel 8 years ago from United Kingdom

      I adored this song as a kid, and much as I love Elvis, I had to go with Peggy Lee! 5* from me! :)

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 8 years ago

      This is such a great song! I'm featuring your lens on my Squid Angel Diary this week.

    • oneskms profile image

      oneskms 8 years ago

      I went for Peggy Lee, but Elvis has to be a very close second