Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Frankie and Johnny

First recorded by Ted Lewis & His Band (US #9 1927).
Also recorded by Mae West (1933).
Other hit versions by Brook Benton (US #20/MOR #6/R&B #14 1961), Mr. Acker Bilk (UK #42 1962), Sam Cooke (US #14/MOR #2/R&B #4/UK #30 1963), Elvis Presley (US #25/UK #21 1966).

From the wiki: “The song ‘Frankie and Johnny’ (sometimes spelled ‘Frankie and Johnnie’; also known as ‘Frankie and Albert’ or just ‘Frankie’) was inspired by one or more actual murders. One took place in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1899 when Frankie Baker, a 22-year-old woman, shot her 17-year-old lover Allen (also known as ‘Albert’) Britt in the abdomen. The song has also been linked to Frances ‘Frankie’ Stewart Silver, convicted in 1832 of murdering her husband Charles Silver in Burke County, North Carolina. Popular St Louis balladeer Bill Dooley composed ‘Frankie Killed Allen’ shortly after the Baker murder case. The first published version of the music to ‘Frankie and Johnny’ appeared in 1904, credited to and copyrighted by Hughie Cannon, the composer of ‘Won’t You Come Home Bill Bailey’.

“At least 256 different recordings of “Frankie and Johnny” have been made since the early 20th century. Ted Lewis & His Band recorded the first popular rendition in 1927. Mae West inserted her ballad in her successful Broadway play Diamond Lil. West sang the ballad again in her 1933 Paramount film She Done Him Wrong, which takes its title from the refrain, substituting genders. A flurry of recordings in the 1960s made the Pop music charts, including recordings by Sam Cooke (1963) and Elvis Presley (1966).”

Mae West, “Frankie and Johnny” (1933):

Brook Benton, “Frankie and Johnny” (1961):

Mr. Acker Bilk, “Frankie and Johnny” TV performance (1962):

Sam Cooke, “Frankie and Johnny” (1963):

Elvis Presley, “Frankie and Johnny” (1966):

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