Billboard #1 Hits: #271: “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”- Roberta Flack. April 15, 1972. #1 for 6 weeks in Billboard Hot 100.
- Single:” The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”- Roberta Flack
- Record Company- Atlantic
- Genre: Soul
- Written by Evan MacColl
- Time: 5:22
- B-side: “Trade Winds
- Album-First Take
- Grade: A
- Peaked at #1 6 weeks in Billboard Hot 100. #14 in UK Singles Chart, #1 in Australia and Canada.
“The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” was written back in 1957 as a folk song by Evan MacColl for Peggy Seeger. At the time MacColl and Seeger were lovers but MacColl was still married to his second wife. MacColl and Seeger would later be married.
The song became a huge hit in the hands of Roberta Flack- who went on not only to have a #1 hit with it but also won Grammy Awards for Record Of The Year and Song of the Year. It was also the #1 single on the Billboard charts for the entire year of 1972.
There were many covers made of “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” and MacColl reportedly hated them all- but I am sure he loved cashing in all the royalties he got from the Roberta Flack version. His daughter-in-law would write-“He hated all of them. He had a special section in his record collection for them, entitled ‘The Chamber of Horrors’. He said that the Elvis version was like Romeo at the bottom of the Post Office Tower singing up to Juliet. And the other versions, he thought, were travesties: bludgeoning, histrionic, and lacking in grace.”
Roberta Flack had recorded it on her album First Take in 1969 but it wasn’t until Clint Eastwood included it in his movie Play Misty For Me- that the song took off- becoming Flack’s first Top 40 single. She would have 3 #1 hits in her career- “Killing Me Softly With His Song” in 1973 and “Feel Like Makin’ Love” in 1974.