FLASHBACK: Thelma Houston Tops Billboard With “Don’t Leave Me This Way” (January 1977)
“Don’t leave me this way. I can’t survive, I can’t stay alive, without your love. Oh baby, don’t leave me this way”…
On January 29, 1977, the disco-infused “Don’t Leave Me This Way” by upcoming Motown artist Thelma Houston began its 17-week Top 40 run on the Billboard charts.
Throughout the 1980s and ’90s, Houston’s version of the Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes song was appropriated by the LGBT community as an unof cial anthem for friends lost to the AIDS epidemic, after artist Nayland Blake referenced the title in a piece created for the American Foundation of AIDS research about the epidemic. Blake’s piece consisted of nothing more than a delicate bouquet of tangled owers and shrubs with their roots showing, with the motto “Don’t Leave Me This Way” draped around the owners.
Instantly, a gay anthem entwined in thoughts of death and departure was born.