Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Andy Williams

Sweet Leilani

First recorded (as “Leilani”) by Sol Ho’opi’i & His Novelty Quartet (1935).
Hit version by Bing Crosby (US #1 1937).
Also recorded by Harry Owens & His Royal Hawaiians (1938), Andy Williams (1959), Sam Cooke (1960).

From the wiki: “Harry Owens wrote the song in 1934 for his just-born daughter, Leilani. The name has a figurative meaning: Small Hawaiian children were carried on their parents’ shoulders like a lei (garland), so the name took on the meaning ‘heavenly child’.

“‘Leilani’ was first recorded in Hawaii by Sol Ho’opi’i & His Novelty Quartet in 1935, as the B-side of the Brunswick Records’ 78-rpm ‘Hawaiian Honeymoon’. The song was famously featured in the 1937 motion picture, Waikiki Wedding, for which its Bing Crosby recording won the Academy Award for Best Original Song with Crosby’s recording going on to become one of the top hits of 1937. The song made another film appearance in the 1938 comedy Cocoanut Grove (set in Los Angeles; not Hawaii), starring Fred MacMurray, performed by the song’s composer Harry Owens & His Royal Hawaiians.

On the Street Where You Live

First performed by John Michael King (1956).
Hit versions by Vic Damone (US #4/UK #1 1956), Eddie Fisher (US #18 1956), Andy Williams (US #28/MOR #3 1964).

From the wiki: “‘On the Street Where You Live’ was composed by Frederick Loewe with lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner, from the 1956 Broadway musical, My Fair Lady. It is sung in the musical by the character Freddy Eynsford-Hill, portrayed by John Michael King in the original Broadway production. The most popular single of the song was recorded by Vic Damone in 1956 for Columbia Records. Eddie Fisher also had a Top-20 Billboard hit with the song in 1956. Andy Williams’ recording appeared in the Billboard Top-40 in 1964.”

Music to Watch Girls Go By

Co-written and first recorded by Sid Ramin (1965).
Hit versions by The Bob Crewe Generation (US #15/MOR #2 1966), Andy Williams (US #34/UK #33 1967 |UK#9 1999), Al Hirt (US #119/MOR #31 1967).
Also recorded (as “Music to Watch Space Girls Go By”) by Leonard Nimoy (1967).

From the wiki: “‘Music to Watch Girls Go By’ was composed by Tony Velona and Sidney ‘Sid’ Ramin, and was first recorded as a commercial jingle demo for Diet Pepsi, where producer Bob Crewe first heard the song. Crewe, using his own name, then recorded the song under his nom de plume ‘The Bob Crewe Generation’. Crewe’s ‘big-band, horn driven’ recording went to #15 on the Pop chart and #2 on the Easy Listening chart.

“A vocal recording by Andy Williams, featuring lyrics by original co-writer Velona, went to #34 in the United States and #33 in the UK but, after it was used in a Fiat ad in the UK in 1999, the re-released single reached the UK Top-10. The version by Al Hirt in 1967 reached #31 on the MOR chart and bubbled-under the Billboard Hot 100. In 1967, an instrumental version, renamed ‘Music to Watch Space Girls By’, appeared on Leonard Nimoy’s debut album Leonard Nimoy Presents Mr. Spock’s Music from Outer Space.”

Happy Heart

Co-written and first recorded (as an instrumental) by The James Last Orchestra (1969).
Hit versions by Nick DeCaro (MOR #22 1969), Petula Clark (US #62/MOR #12 1969/AUS #22), Andy Williams (US #22/MOR #1/UK #19/AUS #22 1969).

From the wiki: “‘Happy Heart’ was written by James Last and Jackie Rae, and was first recorded as an instrumental by The James Last Orchestra in 1969. It was first covered by Nick DeCaro, a version which enjoyed modest success in the US on the Billboard Easy Listening chart. ‘Happy Heart’ would go on to be recorded by both Petula Clark and Andy Williams, and released as a single by each almost simultaneously in 1969. Clark’s ‘Happy Heart’ reached #12 on the Easy Listening chart and #62 on the Billboard Hot 100; Williams’ version peaked at #22 on the Billboard Hot 100, #19 in the UK, and spent two weeks at #1 on the Billboard Easy Listening chart. Clark was reportedly dismayed when Williams was a guest star on her second TV special, with the plan to perform ‘Happy Heart’ at the time each were planning to launch ‘Happy Heart’ as their next respective single.

Moon River

First recorded and performed (in Breakfast at Tiffany’s) by Audrey Hepburn (1961, released 1993).
Hit versions by co-writer Henry Mancini (US#11/MOR #3/UK #44 Oct 1961), Jerry Butler (US #11/MOR #3/R&B #14 Oct 1961), Danny Williams (UK #1 Nov 1961).
Also recorded by Andy Williams (1961).

From the wiki: “‘Moon River’ was written by Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer, and was used as Audrey Hepburn’s theme song in the 1961 movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Hepburn sings the song in the movie, but the version used on the soundtrack was an instrumental by Henry Mancini and his orchestra. Mancini’s instrumental version was released as a single, the first to chart in the US and UK. Hepburn’s version, even though recorded first, was not released until after her death in 1993. It then appeared on the album Music From The Films of Audrey Hepburn.

“Although the instrumental version is played over the film’s opening titles, the lyrics are first heard in a scene where Paul ‘Fred’ Varjak (George Peppard) discovers Holly Golightly (Hepburn) singing them, accompanied by her guitar, on the fire escape outside their apartments. There was an eruption of much behind-the-scenes consternation when a Paramount Pictures executive, Martin Rackin, suggested deleting the song from the film immediately after a very successful San Francisco preview. Hepburn’s reaction was described by Mancini and others in degrees varying from her saying ‘over my dead body’ to her using somewhat more colorful language to make the same point.

(I Can’t Help) Falling in Love

Recorded as (“Plaisir d’Amour”) by Emilio De Gogorza (1902).
Also recorded (as “Plaisir d’Amour”) by Joan Baez (1961).
Hit versions (in English) by Elvis Presley (US #2/UK #1 1961), Andy Williams (UK #3 1970), The Softones (R&B #53 1973), The Stylistics (R&B #52/UK #4 1976), UB40 (US #1/UK #1/IRE #1/AUS #1 1993).
Also recorded (as “I Want to Live”) by Aphrodite’s Child (NETH #1 1969).

Note: Not Emilio De Gogorza. This recording is by French cabaret tenor Tino Rossi, recorded in 1955:

From the wiki: “‘(I Can’t Help) Falling in Love’ was written by Hugo Peretti, Luigi Creatore and George Weiss (‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight‘, ‘What a Wonderful World’) based on a popular romance melody by Jean Pierre Claris de Florian, ‘Plaisir d’Amour’, first performed in 1784 and first recorded in 1902 by Emilio De Gogorza. English-language lyrics were written by Weiss, who claimed that neither the movie producers nor Elvis’ associates liked the song demo. But, nonetheless, Elvis insisted on recording the song for the movie Blue Hawaii.

Solitaire (The Carpenters)

Written and first recorded by Neil Sedaka (1972).
Hit versions by Andy Williams (MOR #23/UK #4 1974), The Carpenters (US #17/MOR #1/UK #32 1975), Elvis Presley (1976 |C&W #10 1979).
Also recorded by The Searchers (1973).

From the wiki: “Neil Sedaka recorded ‘Solitaire’ as the title cut for a UK-only 1972 album recorded at Strawberry Studios, Manchester: 10cc members Lol Creme, Kevin Godley and Graham Gouldman accompanied Sedaka while Eric Stewart, also of 10cc, engineered the session.

“Appearing on 1972 album releases by both Tony Christie and Petula Clark, ‘Solitaire’ had its first evident single release in February 1973 with a recording by The Searchers. However, it was the autumn 1973 single by Andy Williams which would reach #4 UK. In 1974, Sedaka’s original 1972 recording of ‘Solitaire’ was included on his comeback album Sedaka’s Back. Later in 1975, a live-in-concert version recorded by him at the Royal Festival Hall was issued as the B-side of ‘The Queen of 1964’.

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