Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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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.

“In 1960, Peggy Lee recorded the song; then, made it more popular when she performed it in front of a large television audience on The Ed Sullivan Show. As the song’s popularity increased, it became better known as ‘Fly Me To The Moon’ and Lee was eventually able to convince composer Howard to make the name change official. Lee’s arranger, Joe Harnell, recorded a Bossa nova instrumental version of the song in 1962 that charted in the Top 20 and won a Grammy Award in 1963 for Best Pop Instrumental Performance.

“Frank Sinatra’s 1964 recording with Count Basie of ‘Fly Me To The Moon’, perhaps the most-known recording of it, became closely associated with NASA’s Apollo space program. A copy of the song was played on the Apollo 10 mission which orbited the moon. The song became ‘the first music ever heard on the moon’ when played on a portable cassette player by Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin after stepping onto the moon surface.

“In 1999, the Songwriters Hall of Fame recognised the importance of ‘Fly Me to the Moon’ by inducting it as a ‘Towering Song’, an award ‘…presented each year to the creators of an individual song that has influenced our culture in a unique way over many years.'”

Eydie Gorme, “In Other Words” (1958):

Peggy Lee, “In Other Words” (1960):

Joe Harnell, “Fly Me to the Moon” (1962):

Frank Sinatra, “Fly Me to the Moon” (1964):

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