Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Johnny Angel

First recorded by Georgia Lee (1960).
Also recorded by Laurie Loman (1960), Rocky Volcano (1962).
Hit versions by Shelley Fabares (US #1/UK #41/CAN #1/NZ #1 1962), Patti Lynn (UK #37 1962).

From the wiki: “Songwriters Lyn Duddy and Lee Pockriss wrote ‘Johnny Angel’ while trapped in Duddy’s apartment during a blackout. They each had other songwriting partners (Pockriss, with Paul Vance, wrote ‘Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini’) but with nothing else to do, the two decided to brainstorm some ideas and, so, wrote a song from the point of view of someone who waited on the corner every night for someone to pass by.

“‘Johnny Angel’ was first recorded in January 1960 by Georgia Lee, followed in April by the release of a version by Laurie Loman. Neither of the recordings charted.

“The Fabares version premiered on an episode of Fabares’ sitcom, The Donna Reed Show, during the fourth season. Fabares was seen singing ‘Johnny Angel’ in the episode were her character, Mary Stone, abandons her plans to attend college to pursue a singing career. The recording featured session musicians Glen Campbell and Carol Kaye on guitar, and Hal Blaine on drums, with backup vocals from Darlene Love and her group, The Blossoms. Fabares is quoted in The Billboard Book of Number One Singles by Fred Bronson as saying she was intimidated by Love’s group and their ‘beautiful’ voices and was terrified at the prospect of becoming a recording artist, as she did not consider herself a singer. Her recording of ‘Johnny Angel’ reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in April 1962.

“UK pop singer Patti Lynn released a cover version of Fabares’ ‘Johnny Angel’ for the Fontana Records label in March 1962. Lynn’s version peaked on the UK Singles Chart at #37 in May 1962. A version arranged in Spanish was recorded in 1962 by singer French singer Rocky Volcano, a competitor of French ‘teen idol’ Johnny Hallyday, from the album Pequeño Elefante . Rocky wanted initially to become a professional boxer but, according to legend, was dissuaded from a pugilist career by none other than American boxer Sugar Ray Robinson, who suggested Rocky might have more success as a singer. Volcano’s biggest French success was a cover of Del Shannon’s ‘Runaway’.”

Laurie Loman, “Johnny Angel” (1960):

Rocky Volcano, “Johnny Angel” (1962):

Patti Lynn, “Johnny Angel” (1962):

Shelley Fabares, “Johnny Angel” from The Donna Reed Show (1962):

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