Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Chet Atkins

Yakety Sax

Written and first recorded by “Boots” Randolph (1958).
Hit versions by “Boots” Randolph (US #35 1963).
Also recorded as “Yakety Axe” by Chet Atkins (C&W #4 1965).

From the wiki: “‘Yakety Sax’ was jointly composed by James Q. ‘Spider’ Rich and Homer ‘Boots’ Randolph III. The selection, which includes pieces of assorted fiddle tunes, was originally composed by Rich for a performance at a venue called The Armory in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. Randolph’s recording was inspired by a sax solo in the Leiber and Stoller song ‘Yakety Yak’, recorded in 1958 by The Coasters. Randolph first recorded ‘Yakety Sax’ that year for RCA Victor, but it did not become a hit until after his 1963 re-recording for Monument Records.

After Midnight

Written and first recorded by J.J. Cale (1966).
Hit versions by Eric Clapton (US #18 1970), J.J. Cale (re-recording US #42 1972).
Also recorded by The Pioneers (1971), Chet Atkins (1972), Sergio Mendes (1972), Maggie Bell (1974), Pretty Lights (2009).

From the wiki: “J.J. Cale wrote ‘After Midnight’ in 1966 and first released it as single (on Liberty Records) the same year with no apparent chart success. But, the song would become the catalyst for his future solo recording career success. When Eric Clapton was working with Delaney & Bonnie Bramlett, Delaney Bramlett introduced Eric to Cale’s music. ‘After Midnight’ was the first of several Cale cover songs released by Clapton and it first appeared on his 1970 self-titled debut album. Clapton’s single peaked at #18 in late 1970.

“Cale was unaware of Clapton’s 1970 recording of the song until it became a radio hit. He recalled to Mojo magazine that when he heard Clapton’s version playing on his radio, ‘I was dirt poor, not making enough to eat and I wasn’t a young man. I was in my thirties, so I was very happy. It was nice to make some money.’ Cale’s friend and producer Audie Ashworth then encouraged him to capitalize on the song’s success by recording a full album, Naturally, released in 1972. A re-recording of ‘After Midnight’ was released from the album as a single in 1972. Cale’s recording reached #42 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1972.

Walk, Don’t Run

Written and first recorded by Johnny Smith (1954).
Also recorded by Chet Atkins (1957).
Hit versions by The Ventures (US #2/R&B #13/UK #8 1960), The John Barry Seven (UK #11 1960), The Ventures (US #8 1964).

From the wiki: “‘Walk, Don’t Run’ is an instrumental composition written and first recorded by jazz guitarist Johnny Smith in 1954. In 1957, Chet Atkins recorded a version of ‘Walk, Don’t Run’ that appeared on his Hi-Fi in Focus album. It was the Atkins recording the Tacoma-based instrumental rock band The Ventures heard before releasing their own version of the tune as a Surf Rock single in spring 1960 on Dolton Records, which quickly became a hit. The Ventures’ version is believed to be one of the first surfing songs to make the Billboard Hot 100 chart, peaking at #2. In the UK, the tune was covered by The John Barry Seven (before Barry began scoring movie music for the likes of James Bond, Born Free, and Midnight Cowboy) whose recording peaked at #11 on the UK Singles Chart.”

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