Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Caldonia (What Makes Your Big Head So Hard?)

First recorded by Louis Jordan & His Tympany Five (R&B #1 1945).
Other hit versions by Erskine Hawkins (US #12/R&B #2 1945), Woody Herman & His Orchestra (US #2 1945), James Brown (US #95 1964).
Also recorded by Champion Jack Dupree (1967), B.B. King (1971).

From the wiki: “‘Caldonia’ is a Jump Blues song, written by Louis Jordan (but crediting his then-wife, Fleecie Moore, for tax-evading purposes) and first recorded in 1945 by Louis Jordan & His Tympany Five. The lyrics may have been inspired by a real character: a tall Crescent City drag queen wearing oversized shoes.

“A cover version by Erskine Hawkins (‘Tuxedo Junction‘), also in 1945, was described by Billboard magazine as ‘rock and roll’, the first time that phrase was used in print to describe any style of music. Woody Herman and his orchestra also covered ‘Caldonia’ in 1945, arranged by the young Neal Hefti, with Herman singing the lead vocal. Jordan re-recorded the song in 1956, arranged by Quincy Jones and featuring torrid guitar work by Mickey Baker. Baker again recorded the song, in 1967, this time backing up Champion Jack Dupree.

“James Brown recorded ‘Caldonia’ in 1964 as his first release for Smash Records, charting #95 on the Billboard Hot 100. B.B. King included the song on his 19th studio album, B.B. King in London, recorded in London in 1971. He was accompanied by US session musicians and various British R&B musicians (including Alexis Korner, Peter Green, Steve Winwood, Gary Wright and Ringo Starr), as well as members of Spooky Tooth and Humble Pie.”

Erskine Hawkins, “Caldonia” (1945):

Woody Herman & His Orchestra, “Caldonia” (1945):

Louis Jordan, “Caldonia” re-recording featuring Mickey Baker (1956):

James Brown, “Caldonia” (1964):

B.B. King, “Caldonia” (1971):

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