Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Category: Swing

On the Sunny Side of the Street

First recorded by Roger Wolfe Kahn & His Orchestra with Harry Richman (US #13 1930).
Other popular versions by the Ted Lewis Orchestra (US #2 1930), Lionel Hampton (R&B #10 1938), Jo Stafford & the Pied Pipers (US #13 1944), Tommy Dorsey & the Sentimentalists (US #1 1945).
Also recorded by Fats Waller, Louis Armstrong & Jack Teagarden (1938).

From the wiki:”‘On the Sunny Side of the Street’ is to Jimmy McHugh, with lyrics by Dorothy Fields. But, some authors believe that Fats Waller was the composer, selling his rights for the money. (Fats Waller & His Rhythm performed the song live with Louis Armstrong and Jack Teagarden in a radio broadcast from Martin Block’s Make Believe Ballroom in October 1938.) The song was first recorded in 1930, in the Broadway musical Lew Leslie’s International Revue starring Harry Richman and Gertrude Lawrence. Richman first recorded ‘On the Sunny Side of the Street’ in 1930 and a recording by the Ted Lewis Orchestra released the same year came close to topping the Hit Parade.

“Other hit versions were recorded by Lionel Hampton (1938), Jo Stafford & the Pied Pipers (1944), and Tommy Dorsey & the Sentimentalists (1945).”

The Woodpecker Song

First recorded (as “Reginella campagnola”) by Carlo Buti (1939).
Also recorded by Kate Smith (1940).
Hit versions by The Andrews Sisters (US #7 1940), Glenn Miller & His Orchestra (US #1 1940).

From the wiki: “‘The Woodpecker Song’ (‘Reginella campagnola’) was originally an Italian song, written by Eldo Di Lazzaro, and first recorded by Carlo Buti in 1939. English lyrics were written by Harold Adamson and the song became a US hit in 1940, recorded by Glenn Miller and His Orchestra, The Andrews Sisters, and Kate Smith the same year. The Glenn Miller recording featured Marion Hutton on vocals and reached #1 on the Billboard charts in 1940.”

Glory of Love

First recorded by Willie Bryant & His Orchestra (1936).
Hit versions by Benny Goodman with Helen Ward (US #1 1936), The Five Keys (R&B #1 1951), Otis Redding (US #60/R&B #19 1967).

From the wiki: “‘The Glory Of Love’ wasg written by Billy Hill, and first recorded by Willie Bryant & His Orchestra in 1936. Bryant was American jazz bandleader, vocalist, and disc jockey who first put together in 1934 a big band which at times included Teddy Wilson, Cozy Cole, Johnny Russell, Benny Carter, Ben Webster, Eddie Durham, Ram Ramirez, and Taft Jordan. The cover recording by Benny Goodman & His Orchestra, with Helen Ward, topped the Pop music charts in 1936. In 1951, R&B vocal group, The Five Keys, had their biggest R&B hit with their version of the song, hitting #1 on the R&B chart. Otis Redding covered ‘Glory of Love’ in 1967, landing his recording in the Billboard Hot 100 and the R&B Top 20.”

Heart and Soul

First recorded by Larry Clinton & His Orchestra with Bea Wain (US #1 February 1938).
Other hit versions by Eddy Duchin (US #12 1939), Al Donahue & His Orchestra (US #16 1939), The Four Aces (US #11 1952), Jan & Dean (US #25 1961), The Cleftones (US #18 1961).

From the wiki: “‘Heart and Soul’ was written by Hoagy Carmichael (‘Stardust‘, ‘Georgia on My Mind‘) with lyrics by Frank Loesser and first recorded in 1938 by Larry Clinton & His Orchestra featuring Bea Wain. In 1939, three versions charted: Larry Clinton (reaching #1 on the chart), Eddy Duchin (reaching #12), and Al Donahue (reaching #16). The Four Aces covered and charted ‘Heart and Soul’ in 1952; two different cover versions charted in 1961, with Jan & Dean reaching #25 and The Cleftones reaching #18. The Cleftones’ recording became more widely and popularly known after it was used in the 1972 movie American Graffiti, and was included on the soundtrack album.

Bumble Boogie

First recorded by Freddy Martin & His Orchestra (US #7 1946).
Other hit version by B. Bumble & the Stingers (US #21 1961).

From the wiki: “Earl Palmer, René Hall and Plas Johnson were the house band at Rendezvous Records. According to Palmer, the three friends ‘always talked about how we could make some money and not leave the studio. One day I said, ‘Let’s do a rock version of ‘In the Mood”.’ The single, credited to the Ernie Fields Orchestra, became a hit, peaking in the US Top 5 in early 1960. Hall then came up with the idea for B. Bumble and the Stingers, taking the same approach to a piece of classical music. Pianist Jack Fina was approached. His 1946 swing arrangement of Rimsky-Korsakov’s ‘Flight of the Bumble Bee’ for Freddy Martin and his Orchestra, titled ‘Bumble Boogie’, had reached #7 on the Pop charts and was later used in the 1948 Walt Disney animated film Melody Time.

“Using Fina’s arrangement, producer Kim Fowley recorded pianist Ernie Freeman on two tracks, one using a grand piano for the rhythm part, while the other track featured a ‘tack piano’ – a modified upright piano with tacks attached to the hammers that created a tinny ‘honky tonk’ sound. The other musicians on the session, at Gold Star Studios, included Wrecking Crew regulars: Palmer on drums, Red Callender on bass, and Tommy Tedesco on guitar.”

Don’t Get Around Much Anymore

Written and first recorded (as the instrumental “Never No Lament”) by Duke Ellington (1940).
Hit versions by Glen Gray & His Casa Loma Orchestra (US #7 1943), Duke Ellington (US #8/R&B #1 1943), The Ink Spots (US #2/R&B #1 1943).

From the wiki: “‘Don’t Get Around Much Anymore’ is a Jazz standard by Duke Ellington. The tune was originally called ‘Never No Lament’ and was first recorded by Ellington in 1940 as a Big-band instrumental. Bob Russell’s lyrics and the new title were added in 1942. Two different recordings of ‘Don’t Get Around Much Anymore’, one by The Ink Spots and the other, an instrumental, by Ellington’s own band, reached #1 on the R&B chart in the US in 1943. Both were Top-10 Pop records, too, along with a #7 hit by Glen Gray & His Casa Loma Orchestra, with the Ink Spots’ recording charting highest on the Pop chart.”

In the Mood

First recorded by Edgar Hayes & His Orchestra (1938).
Based on “Tar Paper Stomp” by Wingy Manone (1930).
Hit versions by The Glenn Miller Orchestra (US #1 1939), Ernie Fields & His Orchestra (US #4/R&B #7/UK #14 1959), Ray Stevens (US #40/C&W #39/UK #31 1977).

From the wiki: “‘In The Mood’ was arranged by Joe Garland and Andy Razaf based on a pre-existing melody: The main theme previously appeared under the title of ‘Tar Paper Stomp’ credited to jazz trumpeter/bandleader Wingy Manone. Manone recorded ‘Tar Paper Stomp’ in 1930 but, because the song was not formally registered for copyright, meant that the melody could be appropriated by any musician with a good ear. A story says that after ‘In the Mood’ became a hit, Manone was paid by Miller and his record company not to contest the copyright.

The original recording of ‘In The Mood’ was made by Edgar Hayes & His Orchestra in 1938, with songwriter Garland participating. Popular thought is that the melody had already become popular with Harlem bands (e.g. at the Savoy Ballroom) before being written down by Garland. Before offering it to Glenn Miller, Garland sold the tune to Artie Shaw, who could not record it because the original arrangement was too long.

There! I’ve Said It Again

First recorded by The Benny Carter Orchestra (1941).
Hit versions by Vaughn Monroe (US #1 1945), Jimmy Dorsey & His Orchestra (US #8 1945), The Modernaires (US #11 1945), Sam Cooke (US #81/R&B #25 1959), Bobby Vinton (US#1/UK #34 1963).

From the wiki: “‘There! I’ve Said It Again’ was written by Redd Evans and David Mann – popularized originally by Vaughn Monroe, with the Norton Sisters, in 1945, and then again in late 1963 by Bobby Vinton whose version topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1964 and remained there for four weeks. Vinton’s recording would be the last song to reach #1 on the Hot 100 before ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’ by The Beatles topped the chart and changed the course of music history.”

Elmer’s Tune

First recorded by Dick Jurgens & His Orchestra (1941).
Hit version by The Glenn Miller Orchestra (US #1 1941).

From the wiki: “The story goes that ‘Elmer’s Tune’ was named for it’s creator, Elmer Albrecht, an undertaker’s assistant, who used to practice the song on the piano at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago, Illinois. His mortuary job was nearby and so he made a deal with The Aragon Ballroom owner who let Elmer practice there every day or so. Bandleader, Dick Jurgens, would often hear Elmer practicing this melody and one day decided to help him finish his song. Dick Jurgens & His Orchestra completed the first recording of ‘Elmer’s Tune’ as an instrumental. Lyrics were later written by Sammy Gallop, at which time The Glenn Miller Orchestra recorded the number featuring Ray Eberle & The Modernaires. Miller’s recording stayed on the Hit Parade for seventeen consecutive weeks.”

I Got Rhythm

First recorded by Fred Rich & His Orchestra (1930).
Hit versions by Red Nichols & His Five Pennies (US #5 1930), Ethel Waters (US #17 1931), Louis Armstrong (US #17 1932), The Happenings (US #3/UK #28 1967).

From the wiki: “‘I Got Rhythm’ was composed by George Gershwin with lyrics by Ira Gershwin and first published in 1930. It has since become a Jazz standard; its chord progression, known as the ‘rhythm changes’, is the foundation for other popular jazz tunes such as Charlie Parker’s & Dizzy Gillespie’s Bebop standard ‘Anthropology (Thrivin’ From a Riff)’. ‘I Got Rhythm’ was first performed in the musical Girl Crazy. Ethel Merman sang the song in the original Broadway production, and Broadway lore holds that George Gershwin, after seeing Merman’s opening reviews, warned her never to take a singing lesson. A complete list of notable singers who have recorded ‘I Got Rhythm’ would take up several pages. The most popular versions are those by Red Nichols & His Five Pennies (US #5 1930), and The Happenings (#3 on the US charts in 1967). A version of the song, set to a Disco beat, was re-recorded by Ethel Merman for her Ethel Merman Disco Album in 1979.

What a Difference a Day Makes

First recorded in English (as “What a Diff’rence a Day Made”) by Jimmie Ague (1934).
Also recorded by Freddy Martin & His Orchestra (1934).
Hit versions by The Dorsey Brothers Orchestra (US #5 1934), Andy Russell (US #15 1944), Dinah Washington (US #8/R&B #4 1959), Esther Phillips (US #20/R&B #10/UK #6 1975), Bobby Lewis (C&W #81 1977).

From the wiki: “‘What a Diff’rence a Day Made’ is a popular song originally written in Spanish by María Grever, a Mexican songwriter, in 1934 and originallly titled “Cuando vuelva a tu lado” (‘When I Return to Your Side’). The English lyrics were written by Stanley Adams. The earliest English-language renditions of the song were recorded in 1934 by Jimmie Ague, and also by Freddy Martin & His Orchestra. The Dorsey Brothers Orchestra charted first with the song, in 1934, featuring vocals by Bob Crosby. Dinah Washington’s 1959 recording earned her the Grammy Award for Best Rhythm & Blues Performance. Esther Phillips reached into the UK Top 10 with her disco-fied recording.”

A Sunday Kind of Love

First recorded by Fran Warren w. Claude Thornhill & His Orchestra (1946).
Hit versions by Jo Stafford (US #15 1947), Jan & Dean (US #95 1962), Lenny Welch (MOR #21 1972), Kenny Rankin (MOR #28 1976), Reba McEntire (C&W #5 1988).
Also recorded by Louis Prima (1947), The Harptones (1953), Etta James (1961).

From the wiki: “‘A Sunday Kind of Love’ was composed by Barbara Belle, Anita Leonard, Stan Rhodes, and Louis Prima, and first recorded in 1946 by Claude Thornhill & His Orchestra. It became the signature-song for his vocalist, Fran Warren. Jo Stafford had the first charted recording of ‘A Sunday Kind of Love’, in 1947. Influential Doo-wop group, The Harptones, recorded ‘Sunday’ in 1953. Their arrangement would prove influential for subsequent popular recordings of the song including versions by Etta James, Lenny Welch and Kenny Rankin.”

Love Letters in the Sand

First recorded by The Ted Black Orchestra (US #6 1931).
Other hit versions by Pat Boone (US #1/R&B #12/UK #2 1957), Vince Hill (UK #23 1967).

From the wiki: “‘Love Letters in the Sand’ is a popular song first published in 1931, written by J. Fred Coots with lyrics by Nick Kenny and Charles Kenny. The song was ‘inspired’ by an oft-recorded 1881 composition, ‘The Spanish Cavalier’, by William D. Hendrickson. The Ted Black Orchestra had the first major hit with the song, in 1931. Pat Boone’s cover became a major hit during the summer of 1957, spending 5 weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. UK singer, Vince Hill, reached #23 in the UK Singles Chart in 1967 with his cover version ‘Love Letters’.”

A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square

First recorded by Ray Noble & His Orchestra (US #15 1940).
Other hit versions by Vera Lynn (1940), The Glenn Miller Orchestra (US #2 1940).

From the wiki: “‘A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square’ is a romantic British popular song written in 1939 with by Eric Maschwitz and Manning Sherwin, composed in the then-small French fishing village of Le Lavandou. The song had its first performance in the summer of 1939 in a local bar, where the melody was played on piano by Sherwin with the help of the resident saxophonist. Maschwitz sang the words while holding a glass of wine, but nobody seemed impressed.

Tuxedo Junction

Co-written and first recorded by The Erskine Hawkins Orchestra (US #7 1940).
Other hit version by Glenn Miller & His Orchestra (US #1 1940).
Also recorded by The Andrews Sisters (1940).

From the wiki: “‘Tuxedo Junction’ was co-written by Birmingham, Alabama, composer and band leader Erskine Hawkins, and saxophonist and arranger Bill Johnson. The song was first introduced by a Jazz orchestra led by Erskine Hawkins: the student Jazz orchestra made up of students at Alabama State University who, in 1934, traveled to New York City and became the Erskine Hawkins Orchestra, working also with the NBC Orchestra, the Lucky Millinder Orchestra, the Duke Ellington Orchestra, Louis Armstrong and others.

The Lady is a Tramp

First popular recording by Tommy Dorsey & His Clambake 7 with Edythe Wright (1937).
Hit/popular versions by Sophie Tucker (US #19 1937), Frank Sinatra (1957), Ella Fitzgerald (1957), Shirley Bassey, Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga (US #121/UK #188/BEL #21/JPN #33 2011).
Also recorded by Midge Williams & Her Jazz Jesters (1937), Carl Perkins (1960), Alice Cooper (1974).
Also recorded (as “The Lady is a Champ”) by Frank Sinatra (1968).

From the wiki: “‘The Lady Is a Tramp’ is a show tune from the 1937 Richard Rodgers and Lorenzo Hart musical Babes in Arms in which it was introduced by former child star Mitzi Green. The song is a spoof of New York high society and its strict etiquette (the first line of the verse is ‘I get too hungry for dinner at eight…’). Early recordings from 1937 include one by Tommy Dorsey and His Orchestra (featuring Edythe Wright on vocals), Midge Williams and Her Jazz Jesters, and Sophie Tucker.

Taking a Chance on Love

First performed by Ethel Waters (1940).
First commercial recording by Ella Fitzgerald (1940).
Popular versions by Helen Forrest (US #1 1943), Ethel Waters (1946), Frank Sinatra (1954), Anita O’Day (1957).
Also recorded by Dinah Shore (1958).

From the wiki: “‘Taking a Chance on Love’ was written by Vernon Duke with lyrics by John La Touche and Ted Fetter, and has gone on to become a standard recorded by many artists. It was first performed in the Broadway musical Cabin in the Sky which opened at the Martin Beck Theater on October 25, 1940. (‘Taking a Chance on Love’ was added only three days before the New York opening, but it turned into the hit of the show.) The show was choreographed by George Balanchine and was a ground-breaking musical with an all-black cast. The leads were played by Ethel Waters as Petunia, Dooley Wilson (‘As Time Goes By‘) as her husband Little Joe, and Katherine Dunham as the temptress Georgia Brown.

“Waters introduced ‘Taking a Chance of Love’ as a show-stopping solo, reprising it at the end of Act I with Little Joe. Despite the fact that the song never made it to the popular radio show Your Hit Parade, big band performances and many, many cover recordings of the song made it into a Jazz vocal standard.”

Puttin’ on the Ritz

First recorded by Harry Richman (US #1 1930).
Other hit versions by Leo Reisman & His Orchestra (US #20 1930), Clark Gable (1939), Fred Astaire (1946), Ella Fitzgerald (1958), Taco (US #4/CAN #5/SWE #1/NZ #1 1983).

From the wiki: “‘Puttin’ On the Ritz’ is a popular song written and published in 1929 by Irving Berlin and first introduced by Harry Richman in the musical Puttin’ On the Ritz (1930). The expression was inspired by the opulent Ritz Hotel. Another hit version was recorded in 1930 by Leo Reisman & His Orchestra. Clark Gable performed the song on film (Idiot’s Delight) in 1939, but the song was most-famously performed (with new lyrics) by Fred Astaire, with whom the song is particularly associated, in the 1946 film Blue Skies. Gene Wilder and Peter Boyle teamed up in Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein (1974) to give the song a comedic spike.

The More I See You

First recorded by Dick Haymes (1945).
Also recorded by Nat King Cole (1958), Bobby Darin (1961), Doris Day (1965).
Hit version by Chris Montez (US #16/MOR #2 1966).

From the wiki: “‘The More I See You’ was originally recorded by Dick Haymes in 1945, and sung by Haymes in the film Diamond Horseshoe (1945). Other early recordings were made by Nat King Cole, Bobby Darin and Doris Day before the song hit the Pop music chart in 1966.

Fly Me to the Moon

First recorded (as “In Other Words”) by Kaye Ballard (1954).
Hit versions by Eydie Gorme (US #20 1958), Joe Harnell (US #14 1962).
Also recorded by Peggy Lee (1960), Frank Sinatra (1964).

From the wiki: “‘Fly Me to the Moon’, originally titled ‘In Other Words’, was written in 1954 by Bart Howard and first recorded for a B-side by Kaye Ballard. In 1954, Bart Howard had already been pursuing a career in music for more than 20 years. He played piano to accompany cabaret singers but also wrote songs, with Cole Porter being his idol.

“In response to a publisher’s request for a simpler song, Bart Howard wrote a cabaret ballad in waltz time which he titled ‘In Other Words’. A publisher tried to make him change some lyrics from ‘fly me to the moon’ to ‘take me to the moon’ but Howard refused to do this. Many years later Howard commented that ‘… it took me 20 years to find out how to write a song in 20 minutes.’

“Kaye Ballard made the first commercial recording of ‘In Other Words’ in April 1954. Other versions of it would be recorded the next few years by other artists. The first chart appearance of ‘In Other Words’ was in 1958 when Eydie Gorme took the song into the Top 20, and it was nominated for a Grammy Award.

Caravan

First recorded by Barney Bigard & His Jazzopaters (1936).
Hit versions by The Duke Ellington Orchestra (1937), Billy Eckstine (US #27/R&B #14 1949), Ralph Marterie (US #6 1953), Duane Eddy (UK #42 1961).

From the wiki: “‘Caravan’ is a jazz standard composed by Juan Tizol. The first version of the song was recorded in Hollywood in 1936, performed as an instrumental by Barney Bigard & His Jazzopators. The band members were: Cootie Williams (trumpet), Juan Tizol (trombone), Barney Bigard (clarinet), Harry Carney (baritone sax), Duke Ellington (piano), Billy Taylor (bass), Sonny Greer (drums). All the players were members of the Duke Ellington Orchestra, which often split into smaller units to record small-band discs. Although Ellington performed in this recording, the session leader was Bigard under whose name the song was first released.”

How High the Moon

First recorded by Benny Goodman & His Orchestra with Helen Forrest (1940).
Also recorded by The Les Paul Trio (1944).
Hit versions by Stan Kenton & June Christy (US #27 1948), Les Paul & Mary Ford (US #1 1951).

From the wiki: “‘How High the Moon’ is a jazz standard written by Nancy Hamilton and Morgan Lewis. It was first featured in the 1940 Broadway revue Two for the Show. The earliest version to be recorded was by Benny Goodman & His Orchestra and released by Columbia Records in 1940, with the flip side ‘Fable of the Rose’. The Les Paul Trio recorded a version released as a wartime V-Disc, with a spoken introduction, issued in 1944 by the U.S. War Department. The best-known recording of the song is also by Les Paul, with Mary Ford, completed on January 4, 1951. It spent 25 weeks (beginning on March 23, 1951) on the Billboard chart, nine of those weeks at #1.”

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