'Save Your Kisses For Me' by Brotherhood of Man: The making of the Eurovision winner

9 May 2024, 10:29

The Secret History of Eurovision – documentary trailer

By Mayer Nissim

With 'Save Your Kisses For Me', Brotherhood of Man scored much more than a massive Eurovision win.

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It's been a long old time since we had a UK winner of Eurovision to celebrate, and the truth is our successes have been few and often far between.

After Sandie Shaw and Lulu's end-of-60s boom-bang-a-bangers took the crown, it was a seven-year wait until our next win, when Brotherhood of Man won the trophy with 'Save Your Kisses For Me'.

After their early run with an ever-changing cast that scored the hit single 'United We Stand', the band settled on a proper lineup in 1973.

Their early singles didn't do much, but then came Eurovision, and a big win not just for the UK, but the revamped Brotherhood.

Read on for everything you need to know about 'Save Your Kisses For Me'.

Who wrote 'Save Your Kisses For Me'?

Brotherhood of Man - Save Your Kisses For Me (OFFICIAL VIDEO 1976) [HQ]

'Save Your Kisses For Me' is credited to three writers: there's the group's creator and producer Tony Hiller. Hiller was a songwriter/producer who also co-wrote and produced the "original" Brotherhood of Man's 1970 hit 'United We Stand'.

The other co-writers were Lee Sheriden and Martin Lee, members of the band in their "classic" lineup.

'Save Your Kisses For Me' was primarily written by Sheridan as far back as August 1974, but when he brought it to the group they didn't love it, and reworked it into a song called 'Oceans of Love'.

Sheridan in turn didn't like the changes, and the song was forgotten about for another year, till Sheridan brought it back to the table in revamped form for their next album.

"I'd had a year to think about it, I knew exactly what I wanted to do on the arrangement, the glockenspiel on the beginning and the big 12-string acoustic guitar and the strings, and then came the day to record the song," remembered Sheriden on stage in 2007.

"It was about midnight and I sang it and it went well. I could see everyone behind the glass panel getting excited..."

Who was in Brotherhood of Man when they recorded 'Save Your Kisses For Me'?

Brotherhood of Man in 1976
Brotherhood of Man in 1976. Picture: Alamy

The likes of John Goodison, Tony Burrows, Roger Greenaway, Sue Glover and Sunny Leslie had been in the revolving Brotherhood of Man lineup in their first run.

But 'Save Your Kisses For Me' was the second, stable version of the group, which was made up of singers Martin Lee, Lee Sheriden, Nicky Stevens and Sandra Stevens.

During his on-stage reminiscing about 'Save Your Kisses', Sheriden remembered how the lead vocal on his biggest ever song was passed over to his bandmate.

"As I finished I was waiting for them to press the button so they could speak to me and say 'great, we've got a hit' or whatever," Lee said.

"And the person pressing it said, 'Lee, we think Martin should sing this song'. But I didn't mind because Martin came in and sung it to perfection."

What is 'Save Your Kisses For Me' about?

United Kingdom 🇬🇧 - Eurovision 1976 winner - Brotherhood of Man - Save your kisses for me

if you're not listening carefully, then 'Save Your Kisses For Me' is a much-too-cutesy song about someone leaving their sweetheart behind ("Though it hurts to go away, it's impossible to stay") because they have to go to work ("That I've got to work each day and that's why I go away").

If it all sounds all a bit too syrupy ("But you keep me hangin' on for one more smile"), there's a twist in the last line that makes the sickliness entirely appropriate.

The person being urged to save their kisses is the singer's three-year-old kid ("Won't you save them for me / Even though you're only three?").


How did 'Save Your Kisses For Me' get picked for Eurovision and how did it do when it got there?

Brotherhood of Man Martin Lee, Sandra Stevens, Nicky Stevens and Lee Sheriden
Brotherhood of Man (Martin Lee, Sandra Stevens, Nicky Stevens and Lee Sheriden). Picture: Getty Images

Despite their early incarnation scoring some hits, Brotherhood of Man v2.0 hadn't troubled the charts in their early years.

Their manager/producer/writer hit on the idea of having the group try out for Eurovision, perhaps to change their fortunes.

Previously the BBC had always decided who would sing the UK's track, with only the song itself being up for competition.

There was a shake-up in 1976 and Brotherhood of Man joined the Song for Europe competition that year with 'Save Your Kisses For Me' as one of the 12 finalists.

It squeaked ahead of second-placed Co-Co with their song 'Wake Up' by only two points, meaning that Brotherhood of Man were on their way to the Nederlands Congresgebouw in The Hague.

As we all know, 'Save Your Kisses For Me' was triumphant on April 3, 1976, winning a whopping 164 points after netting the full douze points from seven voting countries.

When was 'Save Your Kisses For Me' released as a single and where did it get in the charts?

Brotherhood of Man
Brotherhood of Man. Picture: Alamy

Perhaps Brotherhood of Man didn't really need Eurovision to (re)launch their career.

'Save Your Kisses For Me' was released as a single on March 5, 1976, with 'Let's Love Together' on the B-side, and made its way to number one in the UK singles chart two full weeks before the competition final.

It was the opening song on the band's hit album Love and Kisses from Brotherhood of Man the day before Eurovision.

Eurovision definitely didn't hurt though, helping propel the songs to sales of over six million copies and number one status across the continent.

It was the biggest-selling single of 1976, and even went to number 27 in the US (and number one on the Easy Listening chart there).

The song remained a Eurovision favourite, with the group singing it at Eurovision specials in 1981, 2005 and 2015.

Who has covered 'Save Your Kisses For Me'?

Save Your Kisses For Me, Margo Smith

'Save Your Kisses For Me' is a tricky song to nail. Play it too straight and it's almost too cutesy for words without having the charm of the original performance. Mess around with it too much and it could feel a bit weird and creepy.

With that said, there have been some pretty successful versions over the years, with a couple of big hitters coming out almost immediately and in the same year Brotherhood of Man won Eurovision with it.

Margo Smith gave the song an excellent country sheen and scored a top ten hit on the US genre chart with it, while 'Blue Velvet' crooner Bobby Vinton scored a number 75 US hit with the song with his take.

Save Your Kisses for Me by Kenickie

Also in 1976, Brit folk duo Peters & Lee put their spin on the song.

Israeli singer and future Eurovision competitor Eden Alene released it as her debut single in 2019, while other artists with a penchant for Eurovision covers have also given it a try.

Our favourite version though is '90s indie superstars Kenickie's quirky version, recorded in 1998 for Channel 4's A Song For Eurotrash.