Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Brook Benton

A House Is Not a Home

First performed and released by Brook Benton (US #75/MOR #13/R&B #6 1964).
Other hit versions by Dionne Warwick (US #71/R&B #10/CAN #37 1964), Luther Vandross (1981).
Also recorded by Burt Bacharach (1965), Aretha Franklin (2005).

From the wiki: “‘A House Is Not a Home’ was a 1964 ballad written by the team of Burt Bacharach and Hal David for the 1964 film of the same name, starring Shelley Winters and Robert Taylor, and was sung in the film by Brook Benton (‘A Rainy Night in Georgia’, 1970). A promotional single by Benton was released, debuting two weeks before the release of Dionne Warwick’s cover (as the B-side of ‘You’ll Never Get to Heaven (If You Break My Heart)’). But, with two recordings of the same song charting concurrently, radio airplay and sales was split airplay. Benton’s version peaked at #75 on the Billboard Hot 100; Warwick’s B-side recording peaked at #71.

“Warwick’s single fared a bit better in Canada, where it peaked at #37.

Frankie and Johnny

First recorded (as “Frankie and Johnnie”) by Gene Greene & Charley Straight (1912).
First US recording by Al Bernard (1921).
Also recorded by Mississippi John Hurt (1928), Mae West (1933).
Popular versions by Ted Lewis & His Band (US #9 1927), Brook Benton (US #20/MOR #6/R&B #14 1961), Mr. Acker Bilk (UK #42 1962), Sam Cooke (US #14/MOR #2/R&B #4/UK #30 1963), Elvis Presley (US #25/UK #21 1966).

From the wiki: “The song ‘Frankie and Johnny’ (sometimes spelled ‘Frankie and Johnnie’; also known as ‘Frankie and Albert’ or just ‘Frankie’) was inspired by one or more actual murders. One took place in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1899 when Frankie Baker, a 22-year-old woman, shot her 17-year-old lover Allen (also known as ‘Albert’) Britt in the abdomen. The song has also been linked to Frances ‘Frankie’ Stewart Silver, convicted in 1832 of murdering her husband Charles Silver in Burke County, North Carolina. Popular St Louis balladeer Bill Dooley composed ‘Frankie Killed Allen’ shortly after the Baker murder case. The first published version of the music to ‘Frankie and Johnny’ appeared in 1904, credited to and copyrighted by Hughie Cannon, the composer of ‘Won’t You Come Home Bill Bailey’.

“In 1934, John A. & Alan Lomax counted some 300 published versions in their American Ballads And Folk Songs. Comment of the Lomaxes: ‘No one has ever publicly heard the same version twice, unless from two convict performers who shared the same cell for years.’ These 300 variations begged for a doctorate’s degree paper, finally written by Bruce Buckley who makes a clear distinction between the Frankie & Albert’s following the St. Louis facts and the more popular fantasy variation, ‘Frankie & Johnny’, published in 1912.

Fools Rush In

First recorded by Bob Crosby with Marion Mann (1940).
Hit versions by Tommy Dorsey & His Orchestra (US #17 1940), Tony Martin (US #16 1940), The Glenn Miller Orchestra (US #1 1940), Billy Eckstine (R&B #6 1949), Brook Benton (US #24/R&B #5 1960), Etta James (US #87 1962), Ricky Nelson (US #12/R&B #24/UK #12 1963).

From the wiki: “‘Fools Rush In’ was written in 1940 by lyricist Johnny Mercer with music by Rube Bloom. First recorded by the Bob Crosby orchestra with Marion Mann, major hits at the time of introduction were recorded by Tony Martin, Glenn Miller with Ray Eberle, and Tommy Dorsey with Frank Sinatra. It was also recorded by Billy Eckstine. In the 1960s, ‘Fools Rush In’ saw a resurgence of popularity, resulting in charted remakes in 1960-61 (Brook Benton), 1962 (Etta James), and 1963 (Ricky Nelson).”

A Lover’s Question

Co-written and first recorded by Brook Benton (1958).
Hit versions by Clyde McPhatter (US #6/R&B #1 1958), Del Reeves (C&W #14 1970), Jacky Ward (C&W #3 1978).
Also recorded by Loggins & Messina (1975).

From the wiki: “‘A Lover’s Question’ was written by Brook Benton (‘Rainy Night in Georgia‘) and Jimmy T. Williams, and first recorded by Benton in 1958. That same year, it was covered by Clyde McPhatter (formerly of The Dominoes and founder of The Drifters) and became his most successful solo Pop or R&B release. Only 39 at the time of his death in 1972, McPhatter struggled for years with alcoholism and depression and was, according to Jay Warner’s On This Day in Music History, ‘broke and despondent over a mismanaged career that made him a legend but hardly a success.’

“McPhatter was the first artist in music history to become a double inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame … first as a member of The Drifters and, later, as a solo artist and, as a result, all subsequent double and/or triple inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame are said to be members of ‘The Clyde McPhatter Club’.

Rainy Night in Georgia

Written and originally recorded by Tony Joe White (1962 |1969).
Also recorded by David Ruffin (1970).
Hit version by Brook Benton (US #4/R&B #1 1970).

From the wiki: “‘Rainy Night in Georgia’ is a song written and first recorded by Tony Joe White in 1962 (and re-recorded by White in 1969) and was popularized by R&B vocalist Brook Benton in 1970.

“In 1967, White signed with Monument Records, which operated from a recording studio in the Nashville suburb of Hendersonville, TN. Over the next three years, White released four singles with no commercial success Stateside, although ‘Soul Francisco’ was a hit in France. ‘Polk Salad Annie’ had been released for nine months and written off as a failure by his record label when it finally entered the US charts in July 1969. It climbed into the Top Ten by early August, eventually reaching #8, becoming White’s biggest performance hit.

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