Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Sweet Georgia Brown

First recorded by Ben Bernie & His Hotel Roosevelt Orchestra (US #1 1925).
Also recorded by Ethel Waters (US #6 1925), Isham Jones & His Orchestra (US #5 1925), Red Nichols & His Orchestra (1930).
Best-known recordings by Bing Crosby (US #5 1932), Stéphane Grappelli & Django Reinhardt (1938), Brother Bones & His Shadows (US #10/R&B #9 1948), Tony Sheridan & The Beat Brothers (1962).

From the wiki: “”Sweet Georgia Brown” is a Jazz standard and Pop tune written in 1925 by Ben Bernie, Maceo Pinkard (music) and Kenneth Casey (lyrics). It is believed Ben Bernie came up with the concept for the song’s lyrics – although he is not the accredited lyricist – after meeting Dr. George Thaddeus Brown in New York City: Dr. Brown, a longtime member of the State House of Representatives for Georgia, told Bernie about Dr. Brown’s daughter Georgia Brown and how subsequent to the baby girl’s birth on August 11, 1911 the Georgia General Assembly had issued a declaration that she was to be named Georgia after the state, an anecdote which would be directly referenced by the song’s lyric: ‘Georgia claimed her – Georgia named her.’ The tune was first recorded in March 1925 by Bernie & his Hotel Roosevelt Orchestra, resulting in a five-week run at #1.

“Of the many early recordings of the tune, the first vocal version by Ethel Waters (in 1925) and an instrumental version recorded in the late 1930s by the Quintette du Hot Club de France (Stéphane Grappelli and Django Reinhardt) are particularly notable. But, it is Red Nichols’ 1930 recording that stands out among the earliest recordings – not only musically but historically, for the session included four musicians who would go on to become prominent band leaders in their own right later in Swing Era: Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Gene Krupa, and Jack Teagarden.

“Of all of the recordings of ‘Sweet Georgia Brown’ it is perhaps the version by Brother Bones & His Shadows that is the most well-known and most widely-heard. Recorded in 1948, it made the Top 10 on both the Pop & R&B charts and would almost immediately be adopted by the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team as their theme song; performed to this day wherever the team travels.

“‘Sweet Georgia Brown’ was covered in May 1962 by Tony Sheridan in the UK backed instrumentally by The Beat Brothers – John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Pete Best (with Roy Young on piano) – after the Beatles’ failed Decca Records audition and a month before beginning the group’s first recording sessions for EMI/Parlaphone Records under the guidance of George Martin (that resulted in ‘Please Please Me’, ‘Twist and Shout‘, ‘I Saw Her Standing There’).”

Ethel Water, “Sweet Georgia Brown” (1925):

Red Nichols & His Orchestra, “Sweet Georgia Brown” (1930):

Bing Crosby, “Sweet Georgia Brown” (1932):

Quintette du Hot Club de France, “Sweet Georgia Brown” (1938):

Brother Bones & His Shadows, “Sweet Georgia Brown” (1947):

Tony Sheridan & The Beat Brothers, “Sweet Georgia Brown” (1962):

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