You’ll Never Walk Alone – 1945

“You’ll Never Walk Alone” is a show tune from the 1945 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Carousel. In the second act of the musical, Nettie Fowler, the cousin of the female protagonist Julie Jordan, sings “You’ll Never Walk Alone” to comfort and encourage Julie when her husband, Billy Bigelow, the male lead, commits suicide after a failed robbery attempt. It is reprised in the final scene to encourage a graduation class of which Louise (Billy and Julie’s daughter) is a member. The now invisible Billy, who has been granted the chance to return to Earth for one day in order to redeem himself, watches the ceremony and is able to silently motivate the unhappy Louise to join in the song.

The song is also sung at association football clubs around the world, where it is performed by a massed chorus of supporters on matchday; this tradition began at Liverpool Football Club in the early 1960s.

Besides the recordings of the song on the Carousel cast albums and the film soundtrack, the song has been recorded by many artists, with notable hit versions made by Roy Hamilton, Frank Sinatra, Gerry & the Pacemakers, Judy Garland, Elvis Presley, Andy Williams, and Doris Day. Progressive rock group Pink Floyd took a recording by the Liverpool Kop choir, and “interpolated” it into their own song, “Fearless”, on their 1971 album Meddle.

From 1964 through 2010, Jerry Lewis concluded the annual Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon by singing the song. After the end of a concert by the rock band Queen, the audience spontaneously sang this song, according to lead guitarist Brian May, and this helped to inspire the creation of their songs “We Are the Champions” and “We Will Rock You”. Italian-American tenor Sergio Franchi sang a notable version accompanied by the Welsh Men’s Choir on the June 9, 1968 telecast of The Ed Sullivan Show. He also covered this song in his 1964 RCA Victor album The Exciting Voice of Sergio Franchi. American singer and songwriter Barbra Streisand sang this song in a surprise appearance at the close of the 2001 Emmy Awards, in honor of the victims of the September 11th, 2001 attacks.

In 1990 at the Nelson Mandela: An International Tribute for a Free South Africa concert at Wembley Stadium London, the audience spontaneously broke out into a mass rendition. Mandela turned to Adelaide Tambo who accompanied him onto the stage and asked what the song was. She replied, “A football song”.

Renée Fleming sang the song at the Concert for America, which marked the first anniversary of 9/11, and for the Inauguration of Barack Obama on January 20, 2009.

In 2010, this was sung during the festivities of the Last Night of the Proms, with the choir at the Royal Albert Hall joined by crowds of the public from Hillsborough Castle, Northern Ireland; Caird Hall, Dundee; Hyde Park, London; Salford, Greater Manchester; and Wales, to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Oscar Hammerstein II.

In the second season of American Horror Story, this song was recited as a poem.

It has been the song of the Madison Scouts drum and bugle corps song since 1954, where they first performed it as a part of their first field show in 1954. Challenged by the Rosemont Cavaliers singing “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” in 1957, the corps responded with “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, and it has been the official corps song ever since.


Above: The ‘Shankly Gates’ entrance to Liverpool’s home stadium Anfield

Sporting anthem

In the United Kingdom, the song’s most successful cover was released in 1963 by the Liverpudlian Merseybeat group Gerry and the Pacemakers, peaking at number one in the singles chart for four consecutive weeks. The song quickly became the anthem of Liverpool Football Club and is invariably sung by its supporters moments before the start of each home game.

According to former player Tommy Smith, lead vocalist Gerry Marsden presented Liverpool manager Bill Shankly with a recording of his forthcoming cover single during a pre-season coach trip in the summer of 1963. “Shanks was in awe of what he heard. … Football writers from the local newspapers were travelling with our party and, thirsty for a story of any kind between games, filed copy back to their editors to the effect that we had adopted Gerry Marsden’s forthcoming single as the club song.” The squad was subsequently invited to perform the track with the band on The Ed Sullivan Show and Shankly later picked the song as his eighth and final selection for Desert Island Discs on the eve of the 1965 FA Cup Final.

Marsden himself told BBC Radio how, in the 1960s, the disc jockey at Anfield would play the top-ten commercial records in descending order, with the number one single played last, shortly before kickoff. Spectators would sing along, but unlike with other hit singles, once “You’ll Never Walk Alone” dropped out of the top-ten, instead of disregarding the song, supporters continued to sing it.

The song was later adopted by Scottish team Celtic and is now sung by their fans prior to every home European tie. The song has also been adopted by Dutch teams Feyenoord, FC Twente and SC Cambuur, Germany’s Borussia Dortmund, FSV Mainz 05, 1. FC Kaiserslautern, SV Darmstadt 98, Eintracht Braunschweig, Borussia Mönchengladbach, VfL Osnabrück, Alemannia Aachen, FC St Pauli, TSV 1860 Munich, Belgium’s Club Brugge, Japan’s F.C. Tokyo, Spain’s CD Lugo. and the Marist St. Pats MSP 80/80 Blues. In Ice Hockey, the song has been adopted by German Deutsche Eishockey Liga side Krefeld Pinguine and Croatian Medveščak Zagreb.

A special recording of the song was made in solidarity with Bradford City following the Valley Parade fire in 1985, when 56 spectators died and many more were seriously injured. The song was performed by The Crowd, featuring Gerry Marsden and Paul McCartney, among others.

Some years later, after witnessing a rendition of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” at Anfield in 2007, the President of the Spanish Olympic Committee, Alejandro Blanco, said he felt inspired to seek lyrics to his country’s wordless national anthem, the Marcha Real, ahead of Madrid’s bid to host the 2016 Olympic Games.

During the 2014 Hong Kong protests, legislator Tam Yiu Chung quoted the song during a Legislative Council of Hong Kong meeting, to salute the Hong Kong Police, who had received widespread criticism for using excessive force against pro-democracy protesters. More than 2,000 Liverpool Football Club fans in Hong Kong condemned his inappropriate use of the song, comparing his support of the police action to the police actions in the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, where British Police were found to have distorted facts relating to the unlawful killing by negligence of 96 Liverpool supporters.

The song was also the inspiration for Australian Football League club Port Adelaide’s use of Never Tear Us Apart by INXS as their pre-match anthem, which is played before every AFL home game at Adelaide Oval.

On March 13, 2016, after Borussia Dortmund’s 2-0 win against 1. FSV Mainz 05 in the German Bundesliga, supporters of both teams performed the song to commemorate a Dortmund fan who died from a cardiac arrest in the stands during the game.

Recorded versions

The Adicts

Alfie Boe (“Onward”) (2007)
Alicia Keys (Hurricane Katrina disaster relief, 2005)
André Hazes
André Rieu (2009 Maastricht concert)
Andy Williams (with orchestra conducted by Archie Bleyer)
Aretha Franklin (1972, on the live album Amazing Grace)
The Bachelors
Barbra Streisand
Barry Manilow & Cilla Black (1993)[32]
Bela B. & the Tikiwolves feat. Gary’o’Wolf[20] (official FC St. Pauli Stadionhymn, 1992)
Bernadette Peters
Billy Eckstine (1960): Live album No Cover, No Minimum, recorded in Las Vegas. Production was by Teddy Reig. The album was originally released by Roulette Records, but is also available on the Blue Note label.
Bryn Terfel (1996) – Something Wonderful: Bryn Terfel Sings Rodgers and Hammerstein
Charice (2008)
Celtic Woman (Believe 2011)
Chris de Burgh (2008)
Christy Gibson (Thai Language Version) (2001) – Soo Yod Kao
Christine Johnson on the Carousel Original Cast Album (1945)
Claramae Turner on the Carousel film soundtrack (1956)
The Crowd (1985)
The Crusaders (1966)
David Campbell (2010)
David Phelps on the album Classic (2012)
David Whitfield
Die Toten Hosen (2000, Bayern ep)
Dionne Warwick (1967, On Stage and in the Movies album track)
Doris Akers (1963)
Doris Day (on the You’ll Never Walk Alone album) (1962)
Dropkick Murphys (the band begun performing the song live in 2016 and plan to record it for their ninth studio album)
Dudu Fisher (2006)
Elha Mae Nympha (2015, performed on the Live Semi-finals on the second season of The Voice Kids, and was moved to the grand finals)
Elvis Presley (1968 single release)
Engelbert Humperdinck (1972 album “Live at the Riviera”, in Las Vegas)
Frank Sinatra (1945) (1963)
Frankie Vaughan (1979)
Gene Vincent (1958) (Gene Vincent Rocks and the Blue Caps Roll album track)
Gerry & The Pacemakers (1963)
Hayley Westenra (2001)
Il Divo (A Musical Affair, 2013)
Jackie Wilson (1965)
Jerry Reed (1971) (Ko-Ko Joe album track)
Jo Stafford and Gordon MacRae (1963)
John Barrowman (2010) (John Barrowman album track)
John Farnham (1998) – The Spirit of Christmas (compilation album)
Johnny Cash (2003
Johnny Preston (1960)
Johnny Maestro & the Brooklyn Bridge (1969)
Joseph Calleja (Last Night of the Proms, 2012)
Josh Groban (2015)
Joyce DiDonato (2012)
Juan Diego Flórez (Live 8 – Berlin) (2005)
Judy Garland (1960)
Katherine Jenkins (2005)
Kevin Rowland (1999)
Kiri Te Kanawa with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir (1990) – Songs of Inspiration
Lee Greenwood
Lee Towers (1976)
The Lettermen (1964)
Liverpool F.C. (1977) (FA Cup single: A-side – “We Can Do It” / “Liverpool Lou” B-side – “We Shall Not Be Moved” / “You’ll Never Walk Alone”)
Los Fastidios
Louis Armstrong (1954) in a medley with Tenderly
Mahalia Jackson
Malena Ernman (2013)
Malcolm Vaughan (1959)
Mark Vincent (2010)
Mario Lanza (1952 and 1956)
Maureen Forrester on the Carousel MCA Classics album (1987)
Melanie Chisholm (2012)
Michael Crawford (1987)
Mormon Tabernacle Choir (1971)
The Muppets (1980) on an episode of The Muppet Show
Nina Simone (1960, At Newport)
Olivia Newton-John (1989) – Warm and Tender
Patricia Neway in the soundtrack of the 1967 television adaptation of Carousel (1967)
Patti Labelle & The Blue Belles (1964)
Patti LaBelle (1980’s)
Pink Floyd (1971) – “Fearless”
Pips, Chips & Videoclips (Dernjava album, 1995)
The Priests (2009)
Perry Como (1956)
Ray Charles (Ingredients in a Recipe for Soul album track, July 1963)
Regine Velasquez (1992)
Renée Fleming (2003)
The Righteous Brothers (1965)
Robin S (appears on the 1998 movie soundtrack, Welcome to Woop Woop)
Robson & Jerome (1996)
Roy Hamilton (1954)
Samuel Ramey (1989)
Sergio Franchi recorded on 1964 RCA album, The Exciting Voice of Sergio Franchi
The Shadows (Reflection album track, 1990)
Shirley Bassey (1962, single B-side to “Ave Maria”)[40]
Shirley Jones recorded it on the original movie soundtrack of Carousel and again on her 1989 album Silent Strength
Sissel Kyrkjebø (2004)
Smoking Popes
The Soldiers (2011)
Steven Houghton (1997) – Steven Houghton
Susan Boyle (Standing Ovation: The Greatest Songs from the Stage, 2012)
Tammy Wynette
The 465 CT Transit driver with Máiréad Nesbitt on the Violin during EWR’s Arrivals Ceremony (2013)
The Three Tenors (The Three Tenors: Paris 1998, 1998)
Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra (2009) – Paradise Blue
Tom Jones (1969)
Trisha Yearwood (2016) – The Passion
Vocal Majority (1997) – How Sweet the Sound
Wayne Hussey and Julianne Regan (as Hussey-Regan) (2011) (in support of Liverpool F.C.’s disability charity, Respect 4 All)[41]