Chain Of Fools – Aretha Franklin | Top 40 Chart Performance, Story and Song Meaning

Chart Performance: Pop (#2) & R&B (#1 for 4 weeks); 1968

Story Behind The Song By Ed Osborne

Respect wasn’t the only hit Aretha “stole” from Otis Redding. Don Covay had polished off his voice-and-guitar demo of Chain Of Fools in preparation for a scheduled meeting with Otis Redding, who heard the song’s hit potential instantly.

Then famed producer Jerry Wexler strolled through the door, and immediately seized upon Chains as the song he needed for Aretha Franklin. Right on cue, Aretha joined them and, sure enough, agreed with Wexler.

Otis took the whole thing in stride and Aretha cut her version with the Muscle Shoals Studios crew who had played on her previous hits. Singer/songwriter Joe South, who would later score on his own with Games People Play, laid down the guitar opening while sisters Emma and Carolyn Franklin along with Ellie Greenwich added background vocals.

The scorching performance gave Aretha her fourth R&B chart topper in less than a year, and helped make her the top female soul artist of the 1960’s.

This content and all Song Meaning articles were created and written by Top 40 Contributing Editor Ed Osborne. © 2024 Ed Osborne. All Rights Reserved. In addition to these song meaning articles, Ed has written our “Year in Music 1960s-1990s” articles.

Produced by:

  • Jerry Wexler

Lyrics Written by:

  • Don Covay


  • Won Grammy Awards for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance in 1968
  • Won Grammy Awards for Best Rhythm & Blues Vocal Performance, Female in 1968
  • Won Grammy Awards for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female in 1968
  • Won Grammy Hall of Fame Award
  • Ranked #249 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time in 2004