Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Killer Joe

First recorded by The Jazztet (1960).
Hit version by Quincy Jones (US #74/MOR #29/R&B #47 1969).

From the wiki: “‘Killer Joe’ was composed by tenor saxophonist Benny Golson, co-founder (with trumpeter Art Farmer) of the Jazz sextet ‘The Jazztet’. The Jazztet was ‘famous for nicely structured, precise yet soulful pieces and a swinging style,’ and benefited from having a set of strong compositions by Golson including ‘Killer Joe’ (reviewed as being ‘lean and mean, with Farmer’s muted horn in the lead and horns blowing softly over a bridge where the rhythm is suspended’). The Jazztet played at the Newport Jazz Festival in June 1960 and the first Atlantic City jazz festival two days later, and won Down Beat magazine’s ‘International Critics Poll New Star’ award in 1960 for Jazz groups.

“In 1969, Quincy Jones recorded ‘Killer Joe’ for the Walking in Space album. His production featured Ray Brown on bass and Grady Tate on drums. Released as a single, it charted on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1970.”

“The Golson-composed ‘Killer Joe’ should not be confused with the ‘Killer Joe’ song recorded in in 1963 by the Rocky Fellers, and the Rivieras.”

Quincy Jones, “Killer Joe” (1969):

Quincy Jones Big Band, “Killer Joe” live performance, Tokyo (1981):

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