Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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After Midnight

Written and first recorded by J.J. Cale (1966).
Hit versions by Eric Clapton (US #18 1970), J.J. Cale (re-recording US #42 1972), Eric Clapton (re-recording Rock #4/UK #99 1988).
Also recorded by The Pioneers (1971), Chet Atkins (1972), Sergio Mendes (1972), Maggie Bell (1974), Pretty Lights (2009).

From the wiki: “J.J. Cale wrote ‘After Midnight’ in 1966 and first released it as single (on Liberty Records) the same year with no apparent chart success. But, the song would become the catalyst for his future solo recording career success. When Eric Clapton was working with Delaney & Bonnie Bramlett, Delaney Bramlett introduced Eric to Cale’s music. ‘After Midnight’ was the first of several Cale cover songs released by Clapton and it first appeared on his 1970 self-titled debut album. Clapton’s single peaked at #18 in late 1970.

“Cale was unaware of Clapton’s 1970 recording of the song until it became a radio hit. He recalled to Mojo magazine that when he heard Clapton’s version playing on his radio, ‘I was dirt poor, not making enough to eat and I wasn’t a young man. I was in my thirties, so I was very happy. It was nice to make some money.’ Cale’s friend and producer Audie Ashworth then encouraged him to capitalize on the song’s success by recording a full album, Naturally, released in 1972. A re-recording of ‘After Midnight’ was released from the album as a single in 1972. Cale’s recording reached #42 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1972.

“In addition to Clapton, the song has been recorded by Chet Atkins, the Jerry Garcia Band, Pretty Lights, Phish, Sérgio Mendes & Brasil ’77 (who performed the song with an unusual 7/8 meter), blues-bock singer Maggie Bell (the ‘Scottish Janis Joplin’), and Marc Cohn. It was also recorded by the reggae band The Pioneers under the title ‘Let It All Hang Out’ (1971).

“In 1987, Eric Clapton re-recorded “After Midnight” as a slower, bluesier song – similar to Cale’s original – for use in a Michelob Beer commercial in America. It was issued as a single in 1988 to promote Clapton’s first box set, Crossroads. This version peaked at #4 on the US Rock chart and #99 on the UK Singles chart.”

Eric Clapton, “After Midnight” (1970):

The Pioneers, “Let It All Hang Out” (1971):

[no video available]

J.J. Cale, “After Midnight” re-recording (1972):

Chet Atkins, “After Midnight” (1972):

Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’77, “After Midnight” (1972):

Maggie Bell, “After Midnight” (1974):

The Jerry Garcia Band, “After Midnight” live performance (1980):

Eric Clapton, “After Midnight” (1988):

J.J. Cale & Eric Clapton, “After Midnight” live @ Crossroads Guitar Festival (2004):

Pretty Lights, “Midnight Rider/After Midnight” remix Midnight at Vic Theatre (2009):

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