Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Bill Medley

(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life

First recorded (as a demo) by Franke & the Knockouts (1987, released 1998).
Hit version by Jennifer Warnes & Bill Medley (US #1/MOR #1/UK #6 1987 |UK #8 1991).

From the wiki: “‘(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life’ was composed in late 1986 or early 1987 by Franke Previte, John DeNicola, and Donald Markowitz. Previte, the ‘Franke’ of the group Franke & the Knockouts, had had solo success with the song ‘Sweetheart’ in 1981 but, by 1986, was without a recording contract. Producer and head of Millennium Records, Jimmy Ienner, asked Previte about writing some music for ‘a little movie called Dirty Dancing‘. Previte initially turned the request down because he was still trying to get a record deal, but Ienner was persistent, and got Previte to write several songs for the film, including ‘Hungry Eyes‘, later recorded by singer Eric Carmen.

“After getting further approval, Previte created a demo of the song, performing on it himself with singer Rachele Cappelli. The demo showcased how the harmonies were to be used, employing a ‘cold open’ and a slow build-up of the song to its finale.

Don’t Know Much

Co-written and originally recorded by Barry Mann (1980).
Also recorded by Bill Medley (US #88 1981), Bette Midler (MOR #5 1982).
Other hit version by Linda Ronstadt & Aaron Neville (US #2/UK #2/CAN #1 1989).

From the wiki: “Written by Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil and Tom Snow, ‘Don’t Know Much’ had a rich history prior to its success in 1989. It first appeared on Mann’s self-titled 1980 album, released on Casablanca Records. Bill Medley and Bette Midler (under the title ‘All I Need to Know’) then had minor chart successes with the song in 1981 and 1983, respectively.

Unchained Melody

First commercial release by The Lex Baxter Orchestra (US #1 1955).
Other hit versions by Al Hibbler (US #3 1955), Jimmy Young (UK #1 1955), Roy Hamilton (US #6/R&B #1 1955), Liberace (UK #20 1955), The Righteous Brothers (US #1/UK #14 1965 |US #19/UK #1 1990), LeeAnn Rimes (C&W #3 1996).

From the wiki: “‘Unchained Melody’ is a 1955 song with music by Alex North and lyrics by Hy Zaret, used as a theme for the little-known prison film Unchained (hence the name). Todd Duncan sang the vocals for the film soundtrack. ‘Unchained Melody’ has since become one of the most recorded songs of the 20th century, by some estimates having spawned over 500 versions in hundreds of different languages.

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