The song was written in 1966 by the Motown team Holland-Dozier-Holland, which consisted of the Holland brothers Brian and Eddie and Lamont Dozier, who were shapers of the Sixties Motown sound The Supremes recorded it and released it on their 1966 album The Supremes Sing Holland-Dozier-Holland. They also released it ass a single, and it went to #1 on the U.S. Bilboard Hot 100, U.S. Bllboard R&B Chart, and Cash Box Pop Singles chart. It went to #8 in the U.K. and #11 in Australia. It is on Rolling Stone’s list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.”
“You Keep Me Hangin’ On” certainly describes that time in a relationship when it’s more than time to break up. Lamont Dozier got the idea for the signature guitar part from a Morse code-like radio announcement, which was used before special news bulletins. On the track were Diana Rosse (lead vocals) and Florence Ballard and Mary Wilson (backing vocals). Instrumentation was provided by The Funk Brothers, the Motown session musicians.
There have been numerous covers of the song, including versions by Vanilla Fudge, Kim Wilde, Reba McEntire, Wilson Pickett, Rod Stewart, and The Box Tops, to name a few.