First recorded by Dave Edmunds (UK #11 1979).
Also recorded by Rodney Crowell (1980).
Other hit version by Juice Newton (US #2/C&W #14/CAN #8/AUS #8/NZ #7/DEN #6/SA #2 1981).
‘Queen of Hearts’ is the country-pop ballad crafted by Hank DeVito, the renowned pedal steel guitarist within Emmylou Harris’ backing ensemble, The Hot Band. This song made its initial appearance through Dave Edmunds, who featured it on his 1979 album Repeat When Necessary. When released as a single, it quickly ascended to #11 on the UK charts in that same year.
In 1980, ‘Queen of Hearts’ then found a notable home on Rodney Crowell’s album, But What Will the Neighbors Think. This version was particularly significant as the composer himself, DeVito, contributed his guitar skills to the recording. However, the song reached its zenith of recognition when the talented country-rock songstress Juice Newton included it on her 1981 album Juice.
Newton reminisced about the song’s journey, saying, ‘I performed [‘Queen of Hearts’] live for about a year…Then I presented it to [producer] Richard Landis when we began working on the Juice album. At that point, he wasn’t entirely convinced it would become a breakout hit, but I told him I thought it was an incredibly cool song… so we decided to record it.’
Juice Newton’s rendition of the track catapulted her to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and to international stardom, achieving Top-10 status in countries like Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, and Switzerland. It also garnered respectable success in Austria, Germany, and the Netherlands. Newton’s earnest interpretation of ‘Queen of Hearts’ earned her a Grammy nomination in 1982 in the ‘Best Female Vocalist, Country and Western’ category, solidifying her place in the country music spotlight.
Rodney Crowell, “Queen of Hearts” (1980):
Juice Newton, “Queen of Hearts” (1981):