Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Silhouettes

First recorded by The Rays (US #3/R&B #3 1957).
Other hit versions by The Diamonds (US #10/R&B #6 1957), Herman’s Hermits (US #5/UK #3 1965), Cliff Richard (UK #10 1990).
Also recorded by Frankie Lymon (1960), Bob Crewe (1961), Paul Anka (1961), The Four Seasons (1964), The Nylons (1982).

From the wiki: “In May 1957, songwriter-producer Bob Crewe (‘The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine (Anymore)‘, ‘Lady Marmalade‘, ‘Big Girls Don’t Cry’, ‘Silence is Golden‘) saw a couple embracing through a window shade as he passed-by on a train. He quickly set about turning the image into a song. Frank Slay, who owned the small Philadelphia record label XYZ with Crewe, added lyrics, and they soon had a complete song ready to record.

“The Rays’ original recording received a break when popular Philadelphia disc-jockey Hy Lit fell asleep at home listening to a stack of newly-released records on his record player. ‘Silhouettes’ happened to be the last record to play, and so it repeated until he woke up. Lit began to playing the song on his show and it became popular enough that Cameo-Parkway picked it up for national distribution. The Rays’ ‘Silhouettes’ eventually reached #3 on Billboard Hot 100, while also hitting the Top-5 on both the sales and airplay charts. It became the group’s only Top 40 hit.

“The Canadian pop group The Diamonds, who had experienced success with cover versions of other Doo-wop records (‘Little Darlin’‘), quickly put out their own version of the song. The Diamonds even used the same song as The Rays had for the B-side of their record, ‘Daddy Cool’.

“In 1961, co-writer Crewe recorded and released a cover of his own but with no chart success. However, by 1964, Crewe was the producer behind The Four Seasons. The group recorded their cover of ‘Silhouettes’ along with several other remakes for an oldies-only LP titled Ain’t That a Shame. Curiously, only the UK version included ‘Silhouettes’; the US album release omitted the track.

“Herman’s Hermits recorded the song in 1965 after hearing the song on American Armed Forces Radio in the UK. It went Top-5 in both the US and the UK. Cliff Richard released a live version as a single in 1990, celebrating the 30th anniversary of his recording career. Richard’s recording reached #10 on the UK Singles Chart.

“Bob Dylan is also said to have recorded ‘Silhouettes’, during his legendary Basement Tapes sessions of the late 1960s. But, that recording, if it exists, remains unreleased.”

The Diamonds, “Silhouettes” (1957):

Frankie Lymon, “Silhouettes” (1960):

Bob Crewe, co-writer, “Silhouettes” (1961):

Paul Anka, “Silhouettes” (1961):

The Four Seasons, “Silhouettes” (1964):

Herman’s Hermits, “Silhouettes” (1965):

The Nylons, “Silhouettes” (1982):

Cliff Richard, “Silhouettes” (1990):

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