Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Blue Christmas

First recorded by Doye O’Dell (1948).
Hit versions by Ernest Tubb (C&W #1 1949), Hugo Winterhalter & His Orchestra with Choir (US #9 1949), Russ Morgan & His Orchestra (US #11 1949), Hugo Winterhalter & Billy Eckstine (US #20 1950), Elvis Presley (1957/UK #11 1964), Beach Boys (XMAS #3 1964), Shakin’ Stevens (UK #2 1982), Harry Connick Jr. (MOR #21 2004).

From the wiki: “‘Blue Christmas’ song was first recorded by Doye O’Dell in 1948. It was popularized the following year in three separate recordings: one by Country artist Ernest Tubb, which the Country singles chart; one by instrumental bandleader Hugo Winterhalter and his orchestra that charted US Top-10; and one by bandleader Russ Morgan and his orchestra (the latter featuring lead vocals by Morgan and backing vocals by singers credited as the Morganaires) that charted US Top-15. In 1950 Hugo Winterhalter released a new version, this time sung by Billy Eckstine, with shortened lyrics in a variation close to what is now the common standard for this song. This re-recording charted Top-20 in the US.

“Elvis Presley cemented the status of ‘Blue Christmas’ as a rock-and-roll holiday classic by recording it for his 1957 LP Elvis’ Christmas Album. Presley’s version is notable musicologically as well as culturally. In addition to contributing to the overall tone of the song, the ‘blue notes’ Presley sang constituted a musical play on words that provided an ‘inside joke’ to trained ears. Presley’s original 1957 version was released as a commercially-available single for the first time in 1964. This single was also a hit in the United Kingdom, reaching #11 on the British singles chart during the week of 26 December 1964.

“The Beach Boys recorded a version featuring Brian Wilson on lead vocals, releasing it in the United States on November 16, 1964, in two separate formats simultaneously: a track on The Beach Boys’ Christmas Album; and as the B-side of ‘The Man with All the Toys’, the album’s lead single, which reached #3 on the US Christmas charts but did not chart in the UK.

“A 1982 rockabilly arrangement by Shakin’ Stevens, featured on The Shakin’ Stevens, peaked at #2 on the UK Singles Chart.”

Ernest Tubb, “Blue Christmas” (1949):

Hugo Winterhalter & His Orchestra with Choir, “Blue Christmas” (1949):

Russ Morgan & His Orchestra, “Blue Christmas” (1949):

Hugo Winterhalter with Billy Eckstine, “Blue Christmas” (1950):

Elvis Presley, “Blue Christmas” (1957):

The Beach Boys, “Blue Christmas” (1964):

Shakin’ Stevens, “Blue Christmas” (1982):

Harry Connick Jr., “Blue Christmas” (2004):

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