Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Me and Bobby McGee

First recorded by Roger Miller (C&W #12 1969).
Other hit versions by Gordon Lightfoot (US #13/CAN #1 1970), Janis Joplin (US #1 1971).
Also recorded by Kenny Rogers & the First Edition (1969), The Statler Brothers (1970).

From the wiki: “Roger Miller was the first artist to record and to have a hit with ‘Me and Bobby McGee’, written by Kris Kristofferson (‘Help Me Make Through the Night‘, ‘Lovin’ Her Was Easier (That Anything I’ll Ever Do Again‘) and Fred Foster, peaking with it at #12 on the US Country chart in 1969.

“Kenny Rogers & the First Edition then covered the song (with Rogers on lead vocals), releasing it in on their album Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town in 1969. Gordon Lightfoot’s 1970 recording hit #13 on the US pop chart and #1 country in his native Canada in 1970, and was also a Top-10 hit in South Africa in 1971.

“Just a few days before her death in October 1970, Janis Joplin covered the song for inclusion on her forthcoming Pearl album. Kristofferson had previously sung the song for Joplin, and singer Bob Neuwirth had taught it to her. Kristofferson, however, did not know Joplin had recorded ‘Me and Bobby McGee’ until after her death – the first time he heard it was the day after she died. Joplin’s version topped the charts in 1971 to become her only #1 single and, in 2004, her recording of ‘Me and Bobby McGee’ was ranked #148 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

“In a 2008 autobiography, both Don Reid and Harold Reid of The Statler Brothers say Kristofferson promised it to them, but when they later inquired about recording it, they learned Miller had already cut the song. The Reids say there were no hard feelings, and were happy about Miller’s success with the song. (‘Me and Bobby McGee’ was later included on the Statler Brothers’ Bed of Roses album, but was never released as a single.)”

Kenny Rogers & the First Edition, “Me and Bobby McGee” (1969):

Gordon Lightfoot, “Me and Bobby McGee” (1970):

Statler Brothers, “Me and Bobby McGee” (1970):

Janis Joplin, “Me and Bobby McGee” (1971):

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