Jerry Lewis in the annual MDA Telethon also Louis Armstrong on The Tonight Show (TV)
"You'll Never Walk Alone" is a show tune from the 1945 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Carousel. In the second act of the musical, Nettie Fowler, the cousin of the female protagonist Julie Jordan, sings "You'll Never Walk Alone" to comfort and encourage Julie when her husband, Billy Bigelow, the male lead, kills himself to avoid capture during a failed robbery. It is reprised in the final scene to encourage a graduation class of which Louise (Billy and Julie's daughter) is a member. The now invisible Billy, who has been granted the chance to return to Earth for one day in order to redeem himself, watches the ceremony and is able to silently motivate the unhappy Louise to join in the song.
The song is also sung at association football clubs around the world, where it is performed by a massed chorus of supporters on matchday; this tradition began at Liverpool Football Club in the early 1960s and later spread to several other clubs.
Christine Johnson, who created the role of Nettie Fowler, introduced the song in the original Broadway production. Later in the show Jan Clayton, as Julie Jordan, reprised it, with the chorus joining in.
In the film, it is first sung by Claramae Turner as Nettie. The weeping Julie Jordan (Shirley Jones) tries to sing it but cannot; it is later reprised by Julie and those attending the graduation.
Besides the recordings of the song on the Carousel cast albums and the film soundtrack, the song has been recorded by many artists, with notable hit versions made by Roy Hamilton, Frank Sinatra, Gerry & the Pacemakers, Judy Garland, Elvis Presley, Andy Williams, and Doris Day. Progressive rock group Pink Floyd took a recording by the Liverpool Kop choir, and "interpolated" it into their own song, "Fearless", on their 1971 album Meddle.
From 1964 through 2010, Jerry Lewis concluded the annual Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon by singing the song. After the end of a concert by the rock group Queen, the audience spontaneously sang this song, according to guitarist Brian May, and this helped to inspire the creation of their songs "We Are the Champions" and "We Will Rock You". Italian-American tenor Sergio Franchi sang a notable version accompanied by the Welsh Men's Choir on the June 9, 1968 telecast of The Ed Sullivan Show. He also covered this song in his 1964 RCA Victor album The Exciting Voice of Sergio Franchi. American singer and songwriter Barbra Streisand sang this song in a surprise appearance at the close of the 2001 Emmy Awards, in honor of the victims of the September 11th, 2001 attacks.
In The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the onboard computer Eddie sings this song in an attempt to calm the crew of the Heart of Gold as their imminent destruction approaches in the form of a missile.
Renée Fleming sang the song at the Concert for America, which marked the first anniversary of 9/11,][ and for the Inauguration of Barack Obama on January 20, 2009.][
In 2010, this was sung during the festivities of the Last Night of the Proms, with the choir at the Albert Hall joined by crowds of the public from Hillsborough Castle, Northern Ireland; Caird Hall, Dundee; Hyde Park, London; Salford, Greater Manchester; and Wales, to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Oscar Hammerstein II.][
In the United Kingdom, the song's most successful cover was released in 1963 by the Liverpudlian Merseybeat group Gerry and the Pacemakers (peaking at number one in the singles chart for four consecutive weeks).
The song quickly became the anthem of Liverpool Football Club and is invariably sung by its supporters moments before the start of each home game. The words "You'll Never Walk Alone" also feature in the club crest and on the Shankly Gate entrance to Anfield, the home stadium.
According to former player Tommy Smith, Gerry Marsden presented Liverpool manager Bill Shankly with a tape recording of his forthcoming cover single during a pre-season coach trip in the summer of 1963. "Shanks was in awe of what he heard. [...] Football writers from the local newspapers were travelling with our party and, thirsty for a story of any kind between games, filed copy back to their editors to the effect that we had adopted Gerry Marsden's forthcoming single as the club song."
Marsden himself told BBC Radio how, in the 1960s, the DJ at Anfield would play the top-ten commercial records in ascending order, with the number one single transmitted last, shortly before kickoff. Spectators would sing along, but unlike with other hit singles, once "You'll Never Walk Alone" dropped out of the top-ten, instead of dropping the song, supporters continued to sing along.
The song was later adopted by Scottish team Celtic F.C., Dutch teams Feyenoord, FC Twente and SC Cambuur, Germany's Borussia Dortmund, Mainz 05, 1. FC Kaiserslautern, Borussia Mönchengladbach, Alemannia Aachen, FC St Pauli, SV Darmstadt 98, Belgium's Club Brugge, Japan's F.C. Tokyo and Spain's CD Lugo.
A special recording of the song was made in solidarity with Bradford City following the Valley Parade fire in 1985, when 56 spectators died and many more were seriously injured. The song was performed by The Crowd, featuring Gerry Marsden, Paul McCartney and Rolf Harris, among others. John Peel notably played Aretha Franklin's gospel cover version on his first show after the Hillsborough disaster in April 1989.
Some years later, after witnessing a rendition of "You'll Never Walk Alone" at Anfield in 2007, the President of the Spanish Olympic Committee, Alejandro Blanco, said he felt inspired to seek lyrics to his country's wordless national anthem, the Marcha Real, ahead of Madrid's bid to host the 2016 Olympic Games.