Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Category: 1970s

Just Don’t Want to Be Lonely

First recorded by Ronnie Dyson (US #60/R&B #29 1973).
Other hit version by The Main Ingredient (US #10/R&B #8/CAN #7 1974).

From the wiki: “‘Just Don’t Want to Be Lonely’ was written by Bobby Eli, John Freeman and Vinnie Barrett and was first made popular in 1973 by Ronnie Dyson. The Main Ingredient’s version of the song, featuring Cuba Gooding, Sr., on lead vocal, was released in 1974, becoming a US Top-10 pop and R&B hit.”

L.A. International Airport

Written and first recorded by David Frizzell (C&W 67 1970).
Other hit version by Susan Raye (US #54/C&W #9/CAN #26/NZ #1/AUS #2 1971)
Also recorded by Shirley Myers (2003).

From the wiki: “‘L.A. International Airport’ was written by Leanne Scott and was first recorded by David Frizzell in 1970. Susan Raye recorded her version of the song in 1971, which became an international hit. The song enjoyed much greater success outside of America and was a major pop hit in many countries, including New Zealand and Australia.

“The song was rerecorded with updated lyrics in 2003 by Shirley Myers for the 75th Anniversary of LAX.”

Amarillo By Morning

Co-written and first recorded by Terry Stafford (C&W #31 1973).
Also recorded by Chris LeDoux (1975).
Other hit version by George Strait (C&W #4/CAN #1 1983).

From the wiki: “‘Amarillo by Morning’ was written by Terry Stafford (‘Suspicion‘) and Paul Fraser, and was first recorded by Stafford in 1973 on his album Say, Has Anybody Seen My Sweet Gypsy Rose. Stafford says he conceived the song after playing with his band at a rodeo in San Antonio, Texas, and then driving back to his home in Amarillo, TX. It was first covered in 1975 by bona fide rodeo champion Chris LeDoux, with no apparent chart success. ‘Amarillo by Morning’ was again covered, in 1983, by George Strait, for his 1982 album Strait from the Heart, his third Country Top-5 hit and topping the Canadian Country chart for the second time.”

Cocaine

Written and first recorded by J.J. Cale (1976).
Hit versions by Eric Clapton (NZ #1/SUI #2/AUT #3 1977), Eric Clapton (B-side live US #30 1980).

From the wiki: “‘Cocaine’ was written and first recorded in 1976 by singer-songwriter J. J. Cale. The song was popularized by Eric Clapton after his cover version was released on the 1977 album Slowhand. A live version of ‘Cocaine’, from the album Just One Night, charted on the Billboard Hot 100 as the B-side of ‘Tulsa Time’, which was a #30 hit in 1980. Clapton described ‘Cocaine’ as an anti-drug song, calling it ‘quite cleverly anti-cocaine.'”

Ease On Down the Road

First recorded by “The Wiz” original cast (1975).
Hit versions by Consumer Rapport (US #42/R&B #19/Dance #1 1975), Diana Ross & Michael Jackson (US #41/R&B #17/UK #45 1978).

From the wiki: “‘Ease On Down the Road’ isthe 1975 Broadway musical The Wiz, an R&B re-interpretation of L. Frank Baum’s ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’. The Charlie Smalls–composed tune is the show’s version of both ‘Follow the Yellow Brick Road’ and ‘We’re Off to See the Wizard’ from the 1939 movie version of The Wizard of Oz. In the song, performed three times during the show, Dorothy and her friends the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion dance their way down the Yellow Brick Road and give each other words of encouragement.

“‘Ease On Down the Road’ was performed in the original Broadway production by Stephanie Mills (Dorothy), Hinton Battle (Scarecrow), Tiger Haynes (Tin Man), and Ted Ross (Cowardly Lion), who also performed the song on the original 1975 cast album for The Wiz. Released as a single in 1975 by the studio group Consumer Rapport, the song became a #1 Disco hit for five non-consecutive weeks.

“A second cover of the song was recorded by Diana Ross and Michael Jackson, for the 1978 feature-film adaptation of The Wiz. It charted #41 on the Billboard Hot 100 and Top-20 on the R&B chart.”

Love Me

Written and first recorded by The Bee Gees (1976).
Hit versions by Yvonne Elliman (US #20/UK #6/IRE #9/NZ #3 1976), Martine McCutcheon (UK #6 1999).

From the wiki: “‘Love Me’ was first recorded and released by the Bee Gees, released on the 1976 album Children of the World. It was written by Barry and Robin Gibb featuring Robin on lead with his falsetto (with Barry on the middle eight evidenced on the outro). This makes this song a curio among the group’s mid- to late-’70s tracks, as Barry sang most of the The Bee Gee’s lead vocals. Yvonne Elliman’s version was more successful than the Bee Gees’, reaching the Top-20 US chart, and Top-10 in the UK, Ireland and New Zealand. Martine McCutcheon remade ‘Love Me’ for her 1999 debut album You, Me & Us from which the track – serving as the BBC Children in Need single for 1999 – was issued as the third single.”

Patches (Clarence Carter)

First recorded by Chairmen of the Board (1970).
Hit versions by Clarence Carter (US#4/R&B #2/UK #2 1970), Ray Griff (C&W #26 1970).
Also recorded by The Rudies (1970), George Jones & B.B. King (1994).

From the wiki: “‘Patches’ (sometimes known as ‘Patches (I’m Depending On You)’), a Country-Soul song, was written by General Johnson and Ron Dunbar. The song tells a story about how a boy born and raised in poverty in Alabama ‘on a farm way back up in the woods’ took over responsibility for his family from his dying father.

“‘Patches’ was included on Chairmen of the Board’s first album, The Chairmen of the Board (later reissued as Give Me Just a Little More Time), and was the B-side of the group’s July 1970 single, ‘Everything’s Tuesday’, their third chart hit. The best-known recording was the 1970 hit production by Clarence Carter. It won the 1971 Grammy Award for Best Rhythm & Blues Song.

Count on Me

Written and first recorded by Jesse Barish (1978).
Hit version by Jefferson Starship (US #8/CAN #9 1978).

From the wiki: “‘Count On Me’ was a 1978 song and single by Jefferson Starship for the album Earth, written and first recorded by songwriter Jesse Barish. The Jefferson Starship single gave Starship their second US Top-10 hit of the ‘Seventies, after their 1975 hit, ‘Miracles’.

“Barish played flute with the seminal experimental band The Orkustra in San Francisco in the mid 60’s and also played flute with John Phillips on John’s Wolf King of L.A. tour. In 1971 Jesse was signed to Shelter Records by Denny Cordell and released the album Jesse, Wolff and Whings with guitarist Billy Wolff and drummer Kevin Kelly. Landing in Marin County in the early ’70s, Jesse became friends with Marty Balin who would go on to record ‘Count On Me’ with Jefferson Starship (among other songs) and, in 1980, ‘Hearts’ on Balin’s first solo album for EMI Records.”

Moody Blue

Written and first recorded by Mark James (1975).
Hit version by Elvis Presley (US #32/C&W #1 1976).

From the wiki: “‘Moody Blue’, made famous by Elvis Presley, was written and first recorded by Mark James who also penned Elvis’ ‘Suspicious Minds‘. ‘Moody Blue’ was Presley’s last #1 hit in his lifetime, topping the Billboard magazine Hot Country Singles chart in February 1977.

“Presley recorded his version in February 1976, in the Jungle Room of his Graceland home. The only time Elvis performed the song in its entirety was on February 21, 1977 at a concert in Charlotte, North Carolina. He had attempted to perform the song February 20 at the same venue but revealed to the crowd that he had completely forgotten the lyrics; he returned on February 21, lead sheet in hand, and performed the song with his eyes glued to the lyrics.”

No More Drama (ref. “Nadia’s Theme”)

First recorded as “Cotton’s Theme” by Barry De Vorzon and Perry Botkin, Jr. (1971).
Also recorded by Sounds of Sunshine (1973).
Hit version (as “Nadia’s Theme”) by Barry De Vorzon (US #8 1977).
Hit version (sampled in “No More Drama”) by Mary J. Blige (US #15/R&B #16/UK #9 2001).

From the wiki: “Mary J. Blige sampled the instrumental popularly known as ‘Nadia’s Theme’ as a backdrop for her 2001 single, ‘No More Drama’. Barry De Vorzon and Perry Botkin Jr. composed this piece of music, originally titled ‘Cotton’s Dream’, as incidental music for the 1971 theatrical film Bless the Beasts and Children. Botkin Jr. later composed a rearranged version of the instrumental theme for the U.S. TV soap opera The Young and the Restless, which debuted on March 26, 1973, on the CBS television network. Although a soundtrack album for the TV series was released by P.I.P. Records in 1974, the LP only contained a cover version by easy-listening group Sounds of Sunshine, rather than the original recording by De Vorzon and Botkin.

A Little Bit More

Written and first recorded by Bobby Gosh (1973).
Hit version by Dr. Hook (US #11/UK #2 1976), 911 (UK #1 1999).
Also recorded by Bill Brantley (1977).

From the wiki: “‘A Little Bit More’ was written and first recorded by Bobby Gosh, released on his 1973 album Sitting in the Quiet. The first hit version was recorded by the band Dr. Hook. Released in 1976, it charted at #11 on the US Billboard Hot 100, and #2 on the UK Singles chart.”

Wishing on a Star

First recorded by Rose Royce (R&B #52/UK #3 1978).
Other hit versions by Fresh 4 (UK #10 1989), The Cover Girls (US #9/UK #38 1992), Jay Z (UK #13 1998).

From the wiki: “‘Wishing on a Star’ was written by Billie Rae Calvin and produced by famed former-Motown ‘psychedelic shaman’ Norman Whitfield, and was included on Rose Royce’s second album, Rose Royce II: In Full Bloom. The original recording of ‘Wishing on a Star’ was not a big hit in the US, peaking at #52 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, but was a big chart hit in the United Kingdom, reaching #3 in March 1978. A cover by Fresh 4, in 1989, also peaked in the UK Top 10. The Cover Girls released a version in 1992 that peaked in the US Top 10.

May You Never

Written and first recorded by John Martyn (1971).
Re-recorded by John Martyn (1973).
Hit album version by Eric Clapton (1977).

From the wiki: “‘May You Never’ became something of a signature song for its writer, John Martyn, becoming a staple of his live performances. Released in November 1971 as a single, in an early form with a full band, the song was re-recorded during for the Solid Air album sessions in 1973. Eric Clapton covered ‘May You Never’ on his 1977 album Slowhand. When Martyn was presented with a lifetime achievement award at the 2008 BBC Folk Awards, Clapton sent a message saying that [Martyn] was ‘so far ahead of everything else it was inconceivable’ and acknowledged the extent of his influence on ‘everyone who ever heard him.'”

Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?

Inspired by “Taj Mahal” by Jorge Ben Jor (1972).
Hit version by Rod Stewart (US #1/R&B #5/UK #1 1978).

From the wiki: “‘Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?’ was recorded by the British singer Rod Stewart for his 1978 album Blondes Have More Fun. It was written by Stewart, Carmine Appice and Duane Hitchings, and incorporates elements of the melody from the song ‘Taj Mahal’ by Jorge Ben Jor first recorded in 1972. It was alleged that Stewart created the song through partial musical plagiarism. A copyright infringement lawsuit was file by Brazilian musician Ben Jor claiming the song had been derived from ‘Taj Mahal’. The case was ‘settled amicably’ according to Ben Jor. Stewart admitted to ‘unconscious plagiarism’ of the Ben Jor song in his 2012 autobiography Rod: The Autobiography.”

Love Has No Pride

First recorded by Bonnie Raitt (1972).
Hit version by Linda Ronstadt (US #51/MOR #23 1973).
Also recorded by Libby Titus, co-writer (1977).

From the wiki: “‘Love Has No Pride’ was written by Eric Kaz and Libby Titus, and was first recorded in 1972 by Bonnie Raitt for her album Give It Up of which critic Dave Marsh wrote ‘[it comes] closest to perfecting her approach. She [mingles] her blues resources with a variety of contemporary and folk-oriented songs, coming up with classics in ‘Been Too Long at the Fair’ and Eric Kaz’s ‘Love Has No Pride.’ Her version of the latter remains definitive …’

“Linda Ronstadt covered ‘Love Has No Pride’ for her 1973 album Don’t Cry Now. Her recording was released as the album’s first single. It peaked at #51 on the Billboard Hot 100, but has song has endured over the years to be remembered as one of Ronstadt’s signature songs.”

Motorhead

First recorded by Hawkwind (1975).
Also recorded by by Motörhead (1977).
Hit version by Motörhead (UK #6 1981).

From the wiki: “‘Motorhead’ was written by Lemmy, later of the group Motörhead, while he was a band member in Hawkwind; it was his last before leaving the band. The song first appeared on the B-side of Hawkwind’s 1975 single ‘Kings of Speed’. The title of the song is American slang for a ‘speed’ (amphetamine) freak. The song was written in the Hyatt Hotel (a.k.a. ‘Riot House’) in West Hollywood, California. Lemmy explains:

‘I was on tour with Hawkwind in 1974, we were staying at the Riot House and Roy Wood and Wizzard were also in town. I got this urge to write a song in the middle of the night. I ran downstairs to the Wizzard room, got Roy’s Ovation acoustic guitar, then hurried back to mine. I went on to the balcony and howled away for four hours. Cars were stopping and the drivers were listening then driving off, and there I was yelling away at the top of my voice.

‘The six thousand miles was a reference to Los Angeles, and the rest is self-explanatory. And yes, I am the only person to fit the word ‘parallelogram’ into a Rock’n’roll number! I’m very proud of that.’

Tangled Up in Blue

First recorded by Bob Dylan (1974, released 1991).
Hit version by Bob Dylan (US #31 1975).
Also recorded by Bob Dylan (1984).

From the wiki: “‘Tangled Up in Blue’ was written by Bob Dylan, and first appeared on the album Blood on the Tracks in 1975. Released as a single, ‘Tangled Up in Blue’ reached #31 on the Billboard Hot 100. Rolling Stone ranks it #68 on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. According to The Telegraph, Dylan said ‘I wanted to defy time … When you look at a painting, you can see any part of it altogether. I wanted that song to be like a painting.’ Dylan had been influenced by his then-recent study of painting and the Cubist school of artists, who had sought to incorporate multiple perspectives within a single plane of view. Dylan has often stated that the song took ‘ten years to live and two years to write.’

“‘Tangled Up in Blue’ was one of five songs on Blood on the Tracks that Dylan initially recorded in New York City in September 1974 and which was then re-recorded in Minneapolis in December that year; the later recording became the album track and single. One of the September 1974 outtakes was released in 1991 on The Bootleg Series Volumes 1–3 (Rare & Unreleased) 1961–1991.

Givin’ It Up For Your Love

Written and first recorded by Jerry Williams (1979).
Hit version by Delbert McClinton (US #8 1981).

From the wiki: “Jerry Williams’ big break as a songwriter came when Delbert McClinton recorded a cover of ‘Givin’ It Up For Your Love’, from Williams’ album Gone. Williams would go on to write for Eric Clapton, B.B. King and Clint Black, and contributed two songs, ‘Real Man’ and ‘I Will Not Be Denied’, to Bonnie Raitt’s 1989 Grammy Award-winning album Nick of Time. Williams also helped Stevie Ray and Jimmie Vaughan write the song ‘Tick Tock’. By age 14, Williams had dropped out of school and was working Texas roadhouses with his own band, The Epics. He later toured with Little Richard’s band until authorities discovered Williams’ age and sent him home. Williams says he learned to play lead guitar from a fellow band member, Jimmy James – better known as Jimi Hendrix.”

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

Written and first recorded by Gil Scott-Heron (1970).
Popular version by Gil Scott-Heron (1971).
See also: “The Lawrence Welk-Hee Haw Counter-Revolution Polka” by Roy Clark (1972)

From the wiki: “‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’ is a song-poem written by Gil Scott-Heron. Scott-Heron first recorded it as a live performance for his 1970 album Small Talk at 125th and Lenox, on which he recited the lyrics, accompanied by congas and bongo drums. A re-recorded version, with a full band, was the B-side to Scott-Heron’s first single, ‘Home Is Where the Hatred Is’, in 1971 from his album Pieces of a Man. This version of ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’ was also included on Scott-Heron’s compilation album, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (1974).

“The song’s title was originally a popular slogan among the 1960s Black Power movements in the United States. Its lyrics either mention or allude to several television series, advertising slogans and icons of entertainment and news coverage that serve as examples of what ‘the revolution will not’ be or do.

Put Your Hand in the Hand

First recorded by Anne Murray (1970).
Hit version by Ocean (US #2 1971).

From the wiki: “‘Put Your Hand in the Hand’ is a Gospel-Pop song composed by Gene MacLellan and first recorded byAnne Murray for her third studio album Honey, Wheat and Laughter. It was later covered by Canadian band Ocean and released as the title track to their debut album. Their version is arguably the most popular one of the song, peaking at #2 in 1971 on the US Billboard Hot 100.”

Rock and Roll Love Letter

Written and first recorded by Tim Moore (1975).
Hit version by Bay City Rollers (US #28 1976).

From the wiki: “‘Rock and Roll Love Letter’ is the second single from American Tim Moore’s second album, Behind the Eyes. It was written by Tim Moore. Tim Moore’s original version was not successful. It was later covered by the band Bay City Rollers, and that version became a Top 40 hit.”

Now That We Found Love

First recorded by The O’Jays (1973).
Hit versions by Third World (US #47/UK #10 1977), Heavy D & the Boyz (US #11/R&B #5/UK #2/AUS #6/NETH #2/NOR #10 1991).

From the wiki: “‘Now That We Found Love’ (also known as ‘Now That We’ve Found Love’) was written by Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff, was first recorded by The O’Jays in 1973 for their album Ship Ahoy. Cover versions have included a Reggae-flavored dance hit by Third World, and a worldwide breakthrough Rap hit for Heavy D in 1991.”

Squeezebox

First recorded (as a demo) by Pete Townshend (1974).
Hit version by The Who (US #16 1975 |UK #10/CAN #1/AUS #1 1976).

From the wiki: “‘Squeeze Box’ was written by Pete Townshend, and was originally intended for a Who television special planned in 1974. (The lyrics are couched in sexual double entendres. In the planned performance of the song, the members of the band were to be surrounded by one-hundred semi-naked women playing ‘squeezeboxes’ – a colloquial expression for accordions and concertinas – as the song was played.) Townshend first recorded demo of the song featured a Farfisa arrangement, as well as Bluegrass banjos. When the TV special did not materialize, The Who recorded ‘Squeeze Box’ and the song was released as the first single from The Who by Numbers in 1975 in the US and 1976 in the UK. ‘Squeezebox’ became an international hit, becoming the band’s first Top 10 hit in Britain since 1972.

Take Me to the River

First recorded by Al Green (1974).
Hit versions by Syl Johnson (US #48/R&B #7 1975), Talking Heads (US #26 1979).
Also recorded by Foghat (1976), Levon Helm (1978), Brian Ferry (1978).

From the wiki: “‘Take Me to the River’ was written by singer Al Green and guitarist Mabon ‘Teenie’ Hodges, and first recorded by Green in 1974 for the album Al Green Explores Your Mind. Green’s original recording was ranked #117 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. According to producer Willie Mitchell, Green and Mabon Hodges wrote the song while staying in a rented house at Lake Hamilton, Arkansas, for three days in 1973 in order to come up with new material. Green dedicated his performance on the record to ‘…Little Junior Parker, a cousin of mine, he’s gone on but we’d like to kinda carry on in his name.’ According to one critic, ‘Green’s song squares the singer’s early religious convictions with more earthly interests,’ but when Green became a pastor of the Full Gospel Tabernacle Church in 1976, the singer dropped the song from his repertoire.

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