Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Handy Man

First recorded by Sparks of Rhythm (1956, released 1959).
Hit versions by Jimmy Jones (US #2/R&B #3/UK #3 1960), Del Shannon (US #22/UK #36 1964), James Taylor (US #4/MOR #1 1977).

From the wiki: “‘Handy Man’ was written by singer Jimmy Jones and songwriter Otis Blackwell. Recordings by Del Shannon and also The Sparks Of Rhythm list Charles Merenstein as a co-writer, and The Sparks Of Rhythm version on the Apollo 541 single version released in 1959 credits Andrew Barksdale and Merenstein as writers, entirely omitting Jones and Blackwell. ‘Handy Man’ was originally recorded by The Sparks Of Rhythm, a group Jones had been a member of when he wrote it but wasn’t when ‘Handy Man’ was recorded in February 1956.

“In 1959, Jones recorded the song himself, in an arrangement reworked by co-writer Blackwell who also produced the session. After ‘Handy Man’ starting moving up the music charts, Apollo Records released the Sparks of Rhythm version. Jone’s ‘Handy Man’ went to #3 on the R&B charts and #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1960, becoming a million seller while the Sparks of Rhythm recording was lost in oblivion. ‘Handy Man’ was a hit again in 1964 for Del Shannon and, yet again (as a slow ballad) in 1977, for James Taylor.”

Jimmy Jones, “Handy Man’ (1960):

Del Shannon, “Handy Man” (1964):

James Taylor, “Handy Man” (1977):

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