Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Oh No Not My Baby

First recorded by The Shirelles (1964, released 2006).
Hit versions by Maxine Brown (US #24 1964), Manfred Mann (UK# 11 1964), Merry Clayton (US #71/R&B #30 1972), Rod Stewart (UK #6 1973).

From the wiki: “‘Oh No Not My Baby’ was written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King. The first recorded version of the song was by The Shirelles, with the group’s members alternating leads – an approach that rendered the song unreleasable. Maxine Brown says that Stan Greenberg, Scepter Records executive, then, gave her the song with the advisement that she had to ‘find the original melody’ from the recording by The Shirelles: ‘They [had gone] so far off by each [group member] taking their own lead, no one knew any more where the real melody stood.’

“Brown recalled sitting on the porch of her one level house in Queens listening to The Shirelles’ track play on a boom box propped in a window. A group of children skipping rope on the sidewalk picked up the song’s main hook before Brown herself; hearing the children singing ‘Oh no not my baby’ as they skipped gave Brown the wherewithal to determine the song’s melody. Brown recorded her vocal over The Shirelles’ original backing track with the group’s vocals erased; Dee Dee Warwick provided the harmony vocal on the chorus.

“The song was covered in the UK by Manfred Mann, peaking at #11 on the UK Singles chart in 1964. Merry Clayton recorded a slow-ballad version of ‘Oh No Not My Baby’ in 1972 featuring co-writer Carole King on piano and produced by Lou Adler. Clayton’s track earned her a nomination for the Grammy Award for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance for the year 1972. In 1973, Rod Stewart (backed by his group Faces) charted in the UK with ‘Oh No Not My Baby’. His self-produced version – a single with no parent album – reached #6 UK in September 1973.”

Maxine Brown, “Oh No Not My Baby” (1964):

Manfred Mann, “Oh No Not My Baby” (1964):

Merry Clayton, “Oh No Not My Baby” (1972):

Merry Clayton with Carole King “Oh No Not My Baby” studio video (1972):

Rod Stewart, “Oh No Not My Baby” Top of the Pops TV performance (1973):

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