"Stormy Weather" is a 1933 torch song written by Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler. Ethel Waters first sang it at The Cotton Club night club in Harlem in 1933 and recorded it that year, and in the same year it was sung in London by Elisabeth Welch and recorded by Frances Langford. Also 1933, for the first time in history the entire floor revue from Harlem's Cotton Club went on tour, playing theatres in principal cities. The revue was originally called The Cotton Club Parade of 1933 but for the road tour it was changed to the Stormy Weather Revue and as the name implies, the show contained the hit song "Stormy Weather" which was sung by Adelaide Hall.
The song has since been performed by artists as diverse as Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Etta James, Ella Fitzgerald, Dinah Washington, Clodagh Rodgers, and Reigning Sound and most famously by Lena Horne and Billie Holiday. Leo Reisman's orchestra version had the biggest hit on records (with Arlen himself as vocalist), although Ethel Waters's recorded version also sold well. "Stormy Weather" was featured in the 1943 movie of the same name.
The song tells of disappointment, as the lyrics, "Don't know why there's no sun up in the sky", show someone pining for her man to return. The weather is a metaphor for the feelings of the singer: "stormy weather since my man and I ain't together, keeps raining all the time."
The original handwritten lyrics, along with a painting by Ted Koehler, were featured on the (US) Antiques Roadshow on January 24, 2011, where they were appraised for between $50,000 and $100,000. The lyrics show a number of crossings out and corrections.
Ethel Waters's recording of the song in 1933 was inducted in the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2003, and the Library of Congress honored the song by adding it to the National Recording Registry in 2004. Also in 2004, Horne's version finished at number 30 on AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs survey of top tunes in American cinema.
- Harold Arlen, 1933
- Ethel Waters, 1933
- Duke Ellington recorded an instrumental version of the song in 1933 and another version with singer Ivie Anderson in 1940. He also performed a vocal version with Ivy (aka Ivie) Anderson in the 1933 Paramount short film Bundle of Blues.
- Lena Horne, Stormy Weather, 1943
- Billie Holiday with Lester Young and Count Basie, Broadcast Performances Vol. 2, 1955
- Frank Sinatra, No One Cares, 1959
- Roy Hamilton, Have Blues Must Travel, 1959
- Etta James, At Last!, 1960
- Billy Eckstine, Once More with Feeling, 1960
- Charles Mingus with Eric Dolphy, Mingus!, 1960
- Bing Crosby, Bing Crosby's Treasury - The Songs I Love, 1965
- Ringo Starr recorded the song in 1969 for his solo debut album, but it was not included on the finished album.
- Mary Lou Williams, Live at the Keystone Korner, 1977
- Judy Garland recorded a studio version of the song for her London Sessions with Capitol. Most notable is her live performance of the song recorded for the Grammy Award-winning album Judy at Carnegie Hall.
- Lena Horne recorded the song in 1941 for RCA Victor. In 1943, she recorded another version for the movie of the same name. Horne recorded the song at least five times throughout her career. Horne's version of the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2000.
- Viola Wills covered the song in 1982, it peaked at number four on the dance charts.
- Carmel recorded a version for her 1984 album, The Drum is Everything.
- Doc Watson and Merle Watson, recorded a version on the album Pickin' the Blues (1985)
- Woody Shaw with Steve Turre, Imagination, 1987
- Jeff Lynne recorded a version of the song for his 1990 solo album, Armchair Theatre.
- Sylvia Brooks, on her 2012 album, Restless
- Bob Dylan, Triplicate (2017)
- The chapter "Stormy Weather" in the book Stardust Melodies: The Biography of Twelve of America's Most Popular Songs by Will Friedwald (New York: Pantheon Books, 2002).