March 31, 1972: Roberta Flack Hits No. 1 with "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face"

Roberta Flack

In 1969, former schoolteacher Roberta Flack recorded "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" along with the rest of her debut tracks in First Take

Despite the splendor of the album, First Take didn't sell and remained underground for three years - until one day, movie star Clint Eastwood discovered the song while driving down an LA freeway and recognized the song's potential to spotlight a scene in his upcoming movie. 

To soundtrack an intimate, blissful love scene in his 1971 directorial debut Play Misty For Me, Eastwood chose Flack's version of "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face," which Flack had tenderly transformed into an elongated, elegant ballad. 

Originally a folk number, the song was initially written by British singer-songwriter Ewan MacColl during his affair with Peggy Seeger, whom he eventually married. 

RELATED: EXCLUSIVE PREMIERE: Stream Unreleased Roberta Flack Track "Groove Me"

I [was] in my house in Virginia," Flack reminisced on the life-changing moment Eastwood first reached out. "My mom was living with me at the time. The phone [rang] and she [said] “Roberta, it’s Clint Eastwood.” I thought somebody was playing a joke."

While Play Misty for Me became a watershed moment in Eastwood's Hollywood career, the film would launch Flack and her warm, blissful rendition of the tune into the mainstream spotlight. Three years after its release, Flack's dreamy and definitive version of the ballad charted at No. 1 on March 31, 1972 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary Chart before taking over the pop charts' No. 1 throne in April 1972. "First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" would go on to become Billboard's No. 1 hit of 1972.

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