Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Moonglow

First recorded by Joe Venuti & His Orchestra (1933).
Hit versions by Glen Gray & the Casa Loma Orchestra (US #8 1934), Cab Calloway & His Cotton Club Orchestra (US #7 1934), Duke Ellington & His Orchestra (US #2 1934), Benny Goodman & His Orchestra (US #1 1934), The Benny Goodman Quartet (US #8 1936).
Also recorded by Ethel Waters (1934), Bing Crosby (1956), Sarah Vaughn (1962).
Also recorded (as “Moonglow & Theme from Picnic“) by George Cates (US #4 1956), Morris Stoloff (US #1 1956).

From the wiki: “‘Moonglow’ (also known as ‘Moonglow and Love’) was written in 1933 by by Will Hudson and Irving Mills with lyrics by Eddie DeLange. It was first recorded by Joe Venuti & His Orchestra in 1933, with subsequent recordings in the following year by the Duke Ellington Orchestra, Cab Calloway, Glen Gray & the Casa Loma Orchestra, Benny Goodman and his orchestra, Ethel Waters, and Art Tatum. The song has since become a jazz standard, performed and recorded numerous times by a wide array of musical talents.

“In the 1950s a medley of the song and George Duning’s ‘Theme from Picnic‘, orchestrated by Johnny Warrington, became quite popular, especially in instrumental recordings by Morris Stoloff, conductor of the film version by the Columbia Pictures Orchestra. Duning wrote the film’s theme to counterpoint ‘Moonglow’. Stoloff’s ‘Moonglow & Theme from Picnic‘ spent three weeks at #1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.

“In 1933, Hudson’s tune and arrangement were picked up by violinist Joe Venuti. Venuti had just formed a big band after years of work with top groups like Paul Whiteman and successful freelancing on radio and records. Joe liked the tune and recorded it twice – in September and October of 1933 – prior to the number’s publication. Neither recording did much during the record buying doldrums of the Depression.

“Undaunted, Hudson continued to push his song. He managed to get the tune into the Broadway show Blackbirds of 1934 which opened in New York in December, 1933, after which Hudson rearranged the song and gave it to Cab Calloway, who recorded it in January, 1934. Hudson tailored the arrangement by leaving spaces to spotlight Cab’s musicians, including alto saxophonist Eddie Barefield.

“In true Tin Pan Alley song-plugger fashion, Hudson’s next stop was Benny Goodman, who, like Venuti, was planning to leave his successful freelance career behind to become a leader. Goodman further streamlined Hudson’s arrangement, making trombonist Jack Teagarden the focus. Goodman’s record took off. It was his first really big hit, landing at #1 on the charts for 15 weeks. Another recording of ‘Moonglow’ two years later by The Benny Goodman Quartet (Goodman, Teddy Wilson, Gene Krupa and Lionel Hampton) also made the Hit Parade.

“Bing Crosby recorded the song in 1956 for use on his radio show, and it was subsequently included in the box set The Bing Crosby CBS Radio Recordings (1954-56).”

Glen Gray & the Casa Loma Orchestra, “Moonglow” (1934):

Cab Calloway & His Cotton Club Orchestra, “Moonglow” (1934):

Duke Ellington & His Orchestra, “Moonglow” (1934):

Benny Goodman & His Orchestra, “Moonglow” (1934):

Ethel Waters, “Moonglow” (1934):

The Benny Goodman Quartet, “Moonglow” (1936):

Bing Crosby, “Moonglow” (1956):

George Cates & His Orchestra, “Moonglow & Theme from Picnic” (1956):

Morris Stoloff conducting the Columbia Pictures Orchestra, “Moonglow & Theme from Picnic” (1956):

Sarah Vaughn, “Moonglow” (1962):

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