Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: B.B. King

Caldonia (What Makes Your Big Head So Hard?)

First recorded by Louis Jordan & His Tympany Five (R&B #1 1945).
Other hit versions by Erskine Hawkins (US #12/R&B #2 1945), Woody Herman & His Orchestra (US #2 1945), James Brown (US #95 1964).
Also recorded by Champion Jack Dupree (1967), B.B. King (1971).

From the wiki: “‘Caldonia’ is a Jump Blues song, written by Louis Jordan (but crediting his then-wife, Fleecie Moore, for tax-evading purposes) and first recorded in 1945 by Louis Jordan & His Tympany Five. The lyrics may have been inspired by a real character: a tall Crescent City drag queen wearing oversized shoes. A cover version by Erskine Hawkins (‘Tuxedo Junction‘), also in 1945, was described by Billboard magazine as ‘rock and roll’, the first time that phrase was used in print to describe any style of music. Woody Herman and his orchestra also covered ‘Caldonia’ in 1945, arranged by the young Neal Hefti, with Herman singing the lead vocal. Jordan re-recorded the song in 1956, arranged by Quincy Jones and featuring torrid guitar work by Mickey Baker. Baker again recorded the song, in 1967, this time backing up Champion Jack Dupree.

Every Day I Have the Blues

First recorded by “Pinetop” Sparks (1935).
Also recorded by Memphis Slim (1949).
Hit versions by Lowell Fulson (R&B #3 1950), Joe Williams (R&B #8 1952), B.B. King (R&B #8 1955), The Count Basie Orchestra with Joe Williams (R&B #2 1955).

From the wiki: “‘Every Day I Have the Blues’ is a Blues song that has been performed in a variety of styles. An early version of the song is attributed to Pinetop Sparks and his brother Milton (or Marion), and was first performed in the taverns of St. Louis by the Sparks brothers. It was first recorded on July 28, 1935 by Pinetop with Henry Townsend on guitar. After a reworking of the song by Memphis Slim in 1949 (see below), ‘Every Day’ became a Blues standard with renditions recorded by numerous artists. Four different versions of ‘Every Day I Have the Blues’ have reached the R&B Top 10. Two recordings – one by B.B. King, and one by Count Basie with Joe Williams – have received Grammy Hall of Fame Awards. Williams first recorded and charted ‘Every Day’ for Chess in 1952 with the King Kolax Orchestra before re-recording the song again in 1955 with the Basie orchestra, a version that spent twenty-weeks on the R&B chart.

The Thrill is Gone

First recorded by Roy Hawkins (R&B #6 1951).
Other hit version by B.B. King (US #15/R&B #3 1969).

From the wiki: “‘The Thrill Is Gone’ was written by West Coast Blues musician Roy Hawkins and Rick Darnell in 1951. Hawkins’ recording of the song reached #6 in the Billboard R&B chart in 1951. In 1970, “The Thrill Is Gone” became a major hit for B.B. King.

“In the late 40s and early 50s, King was a disc jockey at radio station WDIA, Memphis, and it was there he first heard (and played) the Hawkins original. King decided to produce his own recording of ‘The Thrill is Gone’ in 1969, but was unhappy with the results until producer Bill Szymczyk called King late one night to suggest adding orchestral strings to the song’s arrangement. The song’s polished production and innovative use of strings marked a departure from both the original song (and previous Blues recordings, in general) and King’s earlier recordings.

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