Phillips’ 1959 recording of the song peaked at No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard R&B chart and No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100. In the UK, Marty Wilde covered the song, and Phillips’ version failed to chart there. It was the only top 40 chart song for Phillips, who never recorded another hit.
The song has been covered by a number of artists since then, most notably by The Honeydrippers, whose version (from the album The Honeydrippers: Volume One) reached No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in early 1985 and No. 1 on the adult contemporary chart in 1984. “Sea of Love” made the Top 40 one other time, when Del Shannon took it to No. 33 in 1981. Tom Waits gave the song a darker twist for the soundtrack to the 1989 Harold Becker film Sea of Love starring Al Pacino and Ellen Barkin, and Waits included it on his 2006 collection Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards.
Baptiste, who was working as a bellboy in Lake Charles, Louisiana, wrote “Sea of Love” for a love interest. He was introduced to local record producer George Khoury, who brought Baptiste into his studio to record the song. At Khoury’s request, Baptiste took the stage name of Phil Phillips. The song, originally credited to Phil Phillips with The Twilights, was released on a small record label owned by Khoury, but due to its success was eventually leased to Mercury Records. Despite the song’s success, Phillips claims that he has only ever received US$6,800 for recording it.
The song was the subject of the 1989 Harold Becker film Sea of Love starring Al Pacino and Ellen Barkin. The 2007 film Juno features a cover version of the song by Cat Power in its soundtrack. The Cat Power version was also featured in an episode of the television show Pretty Little Liars. It was also used in the 1989 TV movie Sweet Bird Of Youth, which starred Elizabeth Taylor. (source Wikipedia)