Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Sailing

Written and first recorded by Sutherland Brothers (1972).
Hit version by Rod Stewart (US #58/UK #1/IRE #1/NOR #1 1975 |UK #3 1976).

From the wiki: “‘Sailing’ was written by Gavin Sutherland and recorded by The Sutherland Bros. Band (featuring the Sutherland Brothers Gavin and Iain). Released in June 1972, it can be found on the album Lifeboat but was never released as a single.

“Rod Stewart recorded the song at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in Sheffield, Alabama, for his 1975 album Atlantic Crossing, and it was subsequently a #1 hit in the UK in September 1975 for four weeks. The single returned to the UK Top 10 a year later when used as the theme music for the BBC documentary series Sailor, about HMS Ark Royal. It remains Stewart’s biggest-selling single in the UK, having been a hit there twice, with sales of over a million copies.

“Stewart’s music video was shot in New York Harbor in 1975 and credited with a 1978 completion date. It also was one of the first to be aired on MTV when the cable music channel launched on 1 August 1981. Despite Stewart’s great popularity in the United States, the song never climbed higher than #58 on the Billboard Hot 100.”

Rod Stewart, “Sailing” (1975):

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