Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Jingle Bells

First recorded (as “One Horse Open Sleigh” in the medley “Sleigh Ride Party”) by The Edison Male Quartette (1898).
Popular versions by The King Cole Trio (1938), Glenn Miller & His Orchestra (US #5 1941), Bing Crosby & the Andrews Sisters (1943), Primo Scala & the Keynotes (US #10 1948), Les Paul (US #10 1951), The Hysterics (UK #44 1981).

From the wiki: “James Lord Pierpont’s 1857 composition ‘Jingle Bells’ became one of the most performed and most recognizable secular holiday songs ever written, not only in the United States, but around the world. In recognition of this achievement, James Lord Pierpont was voted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

“Pierpont wrote it in the 1850s in Medford, Massachusetts as ‘The One-horse Open Sleigh’ for the choir of the First Unitarian Church, where his father was pastor. The choir introduced the new song during a Thanksgiving Day service; there was not a single reference to Christmas in the original lyrics. But, due to the public’s enthusiasm, the performance was renewed during that same year’s Christmas celebration. In 1857 the song was copyrighted as ‘The One Horse Open Sleigh’. Two years later it was first published as ‘Jingle Bells’ in Savannah, GA, where Pierpont’s brother, John, was pastor. His Unitarian Universalist Church became, and still is, locally known as ‘The Jingle Bells Church’.

“‘Jingle Bells’ was first recorded by the Edison Male Quartette in 1898 on an Edison cylinder as part of a Christmas medley entitled ‘Sleigh Ride Party’. Popular versions have been recorded since then by Glenn Miller & His Orchestra, Bing Crosby & the Andrews Sisters, Primo Scala & the Keynotes, Les Paul and Mary Ford, and The Hysterics.

“‘Jingle Bells’ was the first song ever broadcast from space, in a Christmas-themed prank by Gemini 6 astronauts Tom Stafford and Wally Schirra. On December 16, 1965, Schirra and Stafford, aboard Gemini 6, played it on a harmonica and bells to Mission Control. Both instruments are displayed at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.”

The King Cole Trio, “Jingle Bells” (1938):

Glenn Miller & His Orchestra, “Jingle Bells” (1941):

Bing Crosby & the Andrews Sisters, “Jingle Bells” (1943):

Primo Scala & The Keynotes, “Jingle Bells” (1948):

Les Paul, “Jingle Bells” (1951):

The Hysterics, “Jingle Bells (Laughing All the Way)” (1981):

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