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The song describes a man seeking help to find love, so he talks to a Gypsy who determines, by means of palmistry, that he needs "love potion number 9". The potion causes him to fall in love with everything he sees, kissing whatever is in front of him, eventually kissing a policeman on the street-corner, who breaks his bottle of love potion.
In one recorded version of the ending of the song, The Clovers used the alternative lyrics:
- "I had so much fun that I'm going back again,
- I wonder what a-happen with Love Potion Number Ten?"
The "kissing a cop" lyric led to the song being banned by some radio station. The lyrics also have the narrator describe himself as being "a flop with chicks since 1956"; later recordings of the song have often changed the year to suit the year of recording or the age of the performer.
- Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders (1963)
- The Searchers (1964), a U.S. #3 hit in 1965
- Ronnie Dio and the Prophets (1964)
- The Tony Jackson Group (1965)
- Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass (1965)
- The Ventures (February 1965)
- Nancy Sit (1967)
- The Coasters (1971)
- Elkie Brooks (1976)
- Hurriganes (1978)
- The Nylons (1982)
- Tygers of Pan Tang (1982)
- Alvin and the Chipmunks (1988)
- Beau Nasty (1989)
- Southern All Stars (1990)
- Carole Davis (film Love Potion No. 9 end-titles song, arranged by James Wilson and J. Rodgers) (1992)
- Neil Diamond (1993)
- Robert Plant (2008)
- Giuliano Palma & the Bluebeaters (2009) (Italy)
- The Alley Cats
- The White Stripes
- Flotsam and Jetsam
- Gary Lewis & the Playboys