“Never My Love” is a pop standard written by American siblings Donald and Richard Addrisi and best known from a hit 1967 recording by The Association. The Addrisi Brothers had two Top 40 hits as recording artists, but their biggest success was as the songwriters of “Never My Love”. Recorded by dozens of notable artists in the decades since, in late 1999 the Publishing Rights Organization Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) announced it was the second most-played song on radio and television of the 20th century.
The first recording of “Never My Love” to achieve success was by The Association, an American pop rock band from California. Their version of the song, recorded with members of The Wrecking Crew peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and hit number one on the Cashbox charts in October 1967, one of the band’s five top-ten hits in the late 1960s. Their third #1 on the Cashbox Top 100 Singles Chart, following “Cherish” (1966) and “Windy” (1967), it was featured on the band’s album Insight Out (1967). The song also reached number one in Canada’s RPM charts.
By the time The Association’s record was certified Gold by the RIAA for one million copies sold as of December 1967, Billboard noted that sixteen artists had recorded the song. Their third number one single had made them a top concert act and highly in demand by the TV variety series, specials, and talk shows that were a predominant format at the time, and they performed the hit on The Ed Sullivan Show, The Andy Williams Show, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, The Hollywood Palace, The Dean Martin Show, Dick Clark’s American Bandstand, Hullabaloo, Shindig!, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, The Dick Cavett Show, The Joey Bishop Show, The Steve Allen Show, and a Carol Channing special.
AllMusic’s Stewart Mason wrote of the “laid-back and dreamy” single with a “sleek and sophisticated” tune that “the dual lead vocals, by Terry Kirkman and Larry Ramos, are supported by wordless harmonies as effortlessly airy as whipped cream.” Mason credited Ray Pohlman’s “clever arrangement (with adding) space to the sound through juxtaposing disparate elements like the four-note bass riff that introduces the verses and the electric piano lick that ornaments the chorus, rather than jamming them on top of each other.” Mason observed that it sounded “like Pohlman had been paying particular attention to Burt Bacharach’s work with Dionne Warwick, a resemblance The 5th Dimension later amplified on their cover of the song.”
That cover by the American pop group The 5th Dimension was produced by the same man behind The Association’s record, Bones Howe. Recorded live in 1971, their version reached number 12 on the Hot 100 in November of that year. The recording also hit number one on the Billboard Easy Listening chart, the group’s fourth to top that chart, following “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In” (1969), “Wedding Bell Blues” (1969), and “One Less Bell to Answer” (1970). The group’s version of “Never My Love” reached #45 on the Billboard R&B chart. This version also hit #9 in the Canadian charts. Allmusic’s Matthew Greenwald wrote of The 5th Dimension’s single, “‘Never My Love’ is certainly more well known as the huge hit from the Association in 1967. This version, a vocal solo from Marilyn McCoo, is a great vehicle for her powerful pop voice… A song that has one of the most direct, straightforward loving messages, it remains one of the most-played and performed songs of the pop era, and for good reason.”
The Swedish rock band Blue Swede covered “Never My Love” in 1974. This version peaked at number seven on the Hot 100 and remained in the Top 40 for eight weeks and was the third hit version of the song. This version reached #7 in Canada. In a change of pace, their version was an upbeat, almost Disco take on the song.
The Addrisi Brothers recorded their own version of the song they wrote on the Buddah label in late 1977, and it peaked at number 80 on the Hot 100 and number 28 on Billboard’s Easy Listening chart. Barry Manilow covered the song for his album Summer of ’78 (1996). Additional versions of the song that reached the Billboard charts in the U.S. include The Sandpebbles (#98 pop, 1968); Vern Gosdin and Janie Fricke (#9 country, 1978); and Chill Factor (#62 R&B, 1988).
Other versions were recorded by popular artists as diverse as Hans Christian (a.k.a. Jon Anderson, Later of Yes) in 1968, Booker T. & the M.G.’s, Vikki Carr, Percy Faith, Peter Nero, The Four Tops, Lou Christie, Billy Crawford, Astrud Gilberto, Etta James, Steve Lawrence, Brenda Lee, The Lennon Sisters, The Lettermen, The Sandpipers, David Hasselhoff, Pekinška Patka, Henry Mancini, Johnny Mathis, Smokey Robinson, Donny Hathaway, Tinkerbells Fairydust, Tom Scott, Sylvia, Cal Tjader, The Ventures, Kathy Troccoli, Andy Williams, Boris Gardiner, Sarah Vaughan, Vern Gosdin.
The Quebec crooner Raymond Berthiaume covered “Never My Love” in french (Non, non jamais) in 1968
Mercy released a version of the song on their 1969 album, Love Can Make You Happy.
In November 2013, the Japanese boy group A.B.C-Z covered the song.
In 2014, Bryan Adams recorded a version for his album Tracks of My Years.
In 1999, the song was recognized as the second most-played song in history, with performances of more than seven million, according to BMI. The #2 rank on the Top 100 Songs of the Century, listing the most-played songs on American radio and television, placed “Never My Love” between the #1 song “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'”, written by Barry Mann, Phil Spector, and Cynthia Weil, and the #3 song “Yesterday” by Lennon–McCartney. BMI estimated that the song had received, as of 1999, what amounted to about 40 years of continuous airplay in its 32 years.