"Save Your Kisses for Me" was the winning song of the Eurovision Song Contest 1976, performed for the United Kingdom by Brotherhood of Man in The Hague, Netherlands. The lyrics and music were written by Tony Hiller, Lee Sheriden, and Martin Lee, the latter two being members of the band. This was the third consecutive occasion on which a group had won the contest.
"Save Your Kisses for Me" was originally written by member Lee Sheriden in August 1974. On bringing the song in to the next songwriting session, others thought that the title was clumsy and reworked it into "Oceans of Love". Sheriden was unhappy with the changes and the song was shelved. A year later when it came to coming up with songs for the next album, they discovered that they needed one more song and Sheriden again put forth "Save Your Kisses for Me". This time it was accepted, as he later recalled:
"I'd had a year to think about it, I knew exactly what I wanted to do on the arrangement, the glockenspiel on the beginning and the big 12-string acoustic guitar and the strings, and then came the day to record the song...It was about midnight and I sang it and it went well. I could see everyone behind the glass panel getting excited and I thought great, they all really like the song, and as I finished I was waiting for them to press the button so they could speak to me and say 'great, we've got a hit' or whatever, and the person pressing it said: 'Lee, we think Martin should sing this song'. But I didn't mind because Martin came in and sung it to perfection."
Soon after, manager Tony Hiller was keen for the group to try for Eurovision, now that the qualifying rounds had changed in the UK. Up till now, a singer was nominated to perform, but for 1976 it was opened up to different singers to enter their own songs. Brotherhood of Man put forward "Save Your Kisses for Me" and it was accepted as one of the 12 finalists. It won A Song for Europe on 25 February 1976, beating second-placed Co-Co by just two points. The song was released as a single and reached number one in the UK Charts two weeks before the Eurovision final, due to be held on 3 April.
The performance consisted of the two male singers wearing black and white suits, and the two females wearing white and red jumpsuits with matching berets, standing still and singing with minor arm and leg choreography. The bouncy jingle described the gently conflicted emotions of a young man leaving an adored loved-one in the morning as he leaves for work. The song's final line provided the twist: that he was leaving a three year old behind, ending with "Won't you save them for me...even though you're only three?".
It was awarded the maximum twelve points by seven countries, totalling 164 points compared to the second-placed French entry with 147 points. According to John Kennedy O'Connor's The Eurovision Song Contest - The Official History, the song is the biggest selling single for a winning entry in the history of the contest. It also still holds the record for the highest relative score under the voting system introduced in 1975 (which has been used in every contest since), with an average of 9.65 points per jury After winning the contest, the song reached No.1 in many countries across Europe and eventually sold more than six million copies. In the UK, it stayed at No. 1 for six weeks and was certified platinum by the BPI in May 1976, becoming the biggest selling single of the year. In the United States, the song was a moderate pop hit (No. 27 on the Billboard Hot 100) but went all the way to No. 1 on the Easy Listening chart.
At the same time as the single was at No.1, the group released their latest album; Love and Kisses, which featured "Save Your Kisses for Me". The group followed this up with the similarly themed "My Sweet Rosalie", which was also a hit around Europe. The group continued to score hits in the UK, with two more chart toppers in the next two years; however, this was not the case in the United States, where "Save Your Kisses for Me" was the group's final chart entry.
Among many cover versions, country singer Margo Smith had a number ten hit on the Country charts in 1976, while Bobby Vinton had a Billboard top 100 hit in the same year with his version. Brotherhood of Man themselves have re-recorded the song twice as well as releasing a Spanish version ("Tus Besos Son Para Mi") as a single in 1991.
The song was chosen in an internet poll conducted by the European Broadcasting Union in 2005 as one of the fourteen most popular songs in the history of the Eurovision, and was one of the entrants in the Congratulations fiftieth anniversary concert in Copenhagen, Denmark, held in October 2005. It was re-enacted by the group (who are still together) along with twelve dancers dressed in matching red, white, and black costumes with briefcases and a live orchestra as the original footage was shown in the background. It came fifth in the final voting.
"Save Your Kisses for Me" is still one of the best-selling singles of all time in the UK, with sales of over a million copies.