Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Strangers in the Night

First recorded (as “Beddy Bye”) by Bert Kaempfert (1965).
First English-language recording by Jack Jones (1966).
Also recorded by Ivo Robić (1966).
Hit version Frank Sinatra (US #1/MOR #1/UK #1 1966).

From the wiki: “‘Strangers in the Night’ is credited to Bert Kaempfert with English lyrics by Charles Singleton and Eddie Snyder. It is sometimes claimed that the Croatian singer Ivo Robić was the original composer of ‘Strangers in the Night’ (performed as ‘Stranci u noći’), and that he sold the rights to Kaempfert after entering it without success in a song contest in Yugoslavia. These claims have not been substantiated. Robić, a pioneer of popular Yugoslav music from the early 1950s on, was the only artist from Yugoslavia whose records were available in the record shops of Europe and the rest of the world. He performed and collaborated with Kaempfert, Freddy Quinn, and Dean Martin. Robić would go on to record Yugoslav and German versions of ‘Strangers in the Night’, ‘Stranci u Noći’ with lyrics by Marija Renota and ‘Fremde in der Nacht’ with lyrics by Kurt Feltz.

“Kaempfert originally recorded the melody under the title ‘Beddy Bye’ as part of the instrumental score for the movie soundtrack to A Man Could Get Killed, which went on to win a Golden Globe Award in 1967 for Best Original Song in a Motion Picture.

“It was singer Jack Jone who first recorded a English-language version of ‘Strangers in the Night’ (Bobby Darin was also said to be recording the song) but Frank Sinatra’s recording was rushed into release. Sinatra’s recording reached #1 on both the Billboard Hot 100 (bumping the Beatles out of #1) and the MOR charts. The song also reached #1 on the UK Singles Chart. It has been said record producer Jimmy Bowen was the mastermind behind getting the song off the ground and onto the airwaves before anyone else could. According to Charles Pignone, ‘They did the recording session, and then Jimmy actually pressed some acetates and sent them out to disc jockeys. He actually paid people or paid stewardesses in certain cities to take these acetates on a plane then drop them off at a city to disc jockeys because he was aware that Jack Jones had recorded the song, and it was going to come out in a specific time, and he wanted Frank to get airplay on it.’

“‘Strangers in the Night’ also became the title song for Sinatra’s 1966 album Strangers in the Night, his most commercially successful album. Sinatra’s recording won him the Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance and the Grammy Award for Record of the Year, as well as a Grammy Award for Ernie Freeman for Best Arrangement Accompanying a Vocalist or Instrumentalist.

“Members of ‘The Wrecking Crew’ performed on Sinatra’s recording. Hal Blaine was the drummer; Glen Campbell played rhythm guitar. Sinatra, however, despised the song, calling it at one time ‘a piece of shit’ and ‘the worst fucking song that I have ever heard.’ He was not afraid to voice his disapproval of playing it live. In spite of his contempt for the song, for the first time in eleven years he had a number one song, and it remained on the charts for fifteen weeks.

“Glen Campbell recalled to the Daily Mail that when this song was cut, ‘we did the whole song in two takes. We were all in the studio together, Frank and the band. They spliced together the best bits of both versions for the final record.’ They were under a time crunch to get the song out as quickly as possible, as Bobby Darin and Jack Jones were also recording the song.

“Trivia: Sinatra ad-libbed the ‘dooby dooby doo’ closing scat. Iwao Takamoto, the animator who created the cartoon dog ‘Scooby-Doo’, said that he got the inspiration to name his character from Sinatra’s ad-lib.”

Ivo Robić, “Stranci u noći” Yugoslav version (1966):

Ivo Robić, “Fremde in der Nacht” German version (1966):

Jack Jones, “Strangers in the Night” (1966):

Frank Sinatra, “Strangers in the Night” (1966):

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