Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Original Off-Broadway cast of “Hair”

Hair

First recorded by the Original Off-Broadway Cast of Hair (1967).
Hit versions by Zen (NETH #1 1968), Doug Parkinson in Focus (AUS #7 1969), The Cowsills (US #2 1969).

From the wiki: “Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical wass a Rock musical with a book and lyrics by James Rado and Gerome Ragni, and music by Galt MacDermot. The musical broke new ground in musical theater by defining the genre of ‘rock musical’, using a racially integrated cast, and inviting the audience onstage for a ‘Be-In’ finale. After an off-Broadway debut in October 1967 at Joseph Papp’s Public Theater and a subsequent run in a midtown discothèque space, the show opened on Broadway at the Biltmore Theatre on April 29, 1968 and ran for 1,750 performances. A cast album recorded by the original off-Broadway cast was released in 1967; the original Broadway cast recording, released in 1968, received a Grammy Award for Best Score from an Original Cast Show Album.

“The musical’s title song, ‘Hair’, begins as character Woof slowly croons his reason for his long hair, as tribe-mate Berger joins in singing they deem they ‘don’t know.’ They lead the tribe, singing ‘Give me a head with hair,’ ‘as long as God can grow it,’ listing what they want in a head of hair and their uses for it. A cover of ‘Hair’ became a major hit single for The Cowsills in 1969 and was their most successful charted single.”

Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In

First recorded by The Off-Broadway Cast of Hair (1967).
Hit version by The 5th Dimension (US #1/R&B #6/CAN #1/UK #11/AUS #3 1969).

From the wiki: “‘Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In’ is a medley of two songs written for the 1967 musical Hair by James Rado & Gerome Ragni (lyrics), and Galt MacDermot (music). Originally recorded as separate performances by the cast of Hair, the medley recorded by The 5th Dimension became one of the most popular songs of 1969 worldwide. ‘Aquarius’ was ranked #33 on the 2004 American Film Institute’s 100 Years … 100 Songs listing (in the motion-picture adaptation of Hair, produced in 1979).

“The lyrics of this song were based on the astrological belief that the world would soon be entering the ‘Age of Aquarius’, an age of love, light, and humanity, unlike the then-current ‘Age of Pisces’. The exact circumstances for the change are ‘When the moon is in the seventh house, and Jupiter aligns with Mars.’ This change was presumed to occur at the end of the 20th century; however, major astrologers differ extremely widely as to exactly when: Their proposed dates range from 2062 to 2680. ”

Easy to be Hard

First recorded by the Original Off-Broadway Cast of Hair (1967).
Also recorded by Jennifer Warnes (US #128 1969).
Hit version by Three Dog Night (US #4/CAN #2 1969).

From the wiki: “‘Easy to Be Hard’ was written by Galt MacDermot, James Rado, and Gerome Ragni, and was first performed by in the original Off-Broadway stage production of Hair in 1967. In 1968, Jennifer Warnes (performing as ‘Jennifer Warren’) portrayed the female lead in the Los Angeles production of Hair. Coincidental to that, she recorded a version of ‘Easy to be Hard’ in 1969 for release in the UK (along with another song property from Hair, ‘Let the Sunshine In’). The American label Parrot licensed the recording for distribution in the US.

“Three Dog Night also released ‘Easy to be Hard’ in 1969, with their recording reaching the US Top 5.”

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