Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Blues in the Night

First performed by William Gillespie (1941).
First released by Artie Shaw (US #10 1941).
Other hit versions by Woody Herman & His Orchestra (US #1 1941), Dinah Shore (US #4 1942), Cab Calloway (US #8 1942), Rosemary Clooney (US #29 1952).
Also recorded by Judy Garland (1941), Chicago (1995).

From the wiki: “The song was first performed by William Gillespie, in the movie Blues In The Night, and was nominated for an Academy Award. Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer wrote the entire score for Blues in the Night. When they finished writing ‘Blues in the Night’, Mercer called a friend, singer Margaret Whiting, and asked if they could come over and play it for her. She suggested they come later because she had dinner guests — Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland, Mel Tormé, and Martha Raye. Instead, Arlen and Mercer went right over. Margaret Whiting remembered what happened then:

‘They came in the back door, sat down at the piano and played the score of “Blues in the Night”. I remember forever the reaction. Mel got up and said, ‘I can’t believe it.’ Martha couldn’t say a word. Mickey Rooney said, ‘That’s the greatest thing I’ve ever heard.’ Judy Garland said, ‘Play it again.’ We had them play it seven times. Judy and I ran to the piano to see who was going to learn it first. It was a lovely night.’

“The Artie Shaw recording was the first to reach the Billboard magazine charts, on November 21, 1941, and lasted 1 week on the chart at #10. Other charting versions 1941-1942 included recordings by Woody Herman & His Orchestra, Dinah Shore, and Cab Calloway. In 1952, Rosemary Clooney charted with her recording of ‘Blues in the Night’. More recently, the rock group Chicago included the song on their Night and Day album in 1995. The arrangement by vocalist Bill Champlin featured a guitar solo by Aerosmith’s Joe Perry.”

Artie Shaw, “Blues in the Night” (1941):

Judy Garland, “Blues in the Night” (1941):

Woody Herman & His Orchestra, “Blues in the Night” (1941):

Dinah Shore, “Blues in the Night” (1942):

Cab Calloway, “Blues in the Night” (1942):

Rosemary Clooney, “Blues in the Night” (1952):

Chicago, “Blues in the Night” (1995):

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