Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: David Bowie

Pablo Picasso

First recorded (as a demo) by The Modern Lovers (recorded 1972, released 1976).
First released by John Cale (1975).
Also recorded by David Bowie (2003).

From the wiki: “‘Pablo Picasso’ was written by Jonathan Richman for his proto-punk group The Modern Lovers. The song was first recorded by the group in 1972, produced by former Velvet Underground member John Cale. However, the recording was not released until 1976, on The Modern Lovers’ self-titled debut album. In the meantime, Cale recorded a cover of ‘Pablo Picasso’ for his own album, Helen of Troy, released in 1975.

Space Oddity

First recorded by David Bowie & John Hutchinson (1969).
Hit version by David Bowie (US #124/UK #5 1969 |US #15/CAN #16 1973 |UK #1 1975).
Also re-recorded by David Bowie (1979).

From the wiki: “‘Space Oddity’ was written by David Bowie. Three primary studio recordings of the song exist: an early version recorded in February 1969, the album version recorded that June (edited for release as a single), and a 1979 re-recording. The earliest version of ‘Space Oddity’ was recorded on 2 February 1969 by Bowie and John Hutchinson for Bowie’s promotional film Love You Till Tuesday. (Bowie and Hutchinson were the remaining members of the trio Feathers after the departure of Hermione Farthingale.) John was ‘Ground Control’, David was ‘Major Tom’.

Little Drummer Boy

First recorded (as “Carol of the Drum”) by The Trapp Family Singers (1954).
Popular versions by The Harry Simone Chorale (1958), Lou Rawls (1967), Bing Crosby & David Bowie (1977).

From the wiki: “‘Little Drummer Boy’ – originally titled ‘Carol of the Drum’ – was written in 1941 by Katherine K. Davis. It was first recorded in 1954 by The Trapp Family Singers during sessions for their albums Christmas With The Trapp Family Singers and Yuletide Songs Of Many Lands, and further popularized by a 1958 recording by the Harry Simeone Chorale. The original manuscript is headed ‘Czech Carol freely transcribed by K.K.D’, these initials then deleted and replaced with ‘C.R.W. Robinson’, a name under which Davis sometimes published. Although Davis did search far and wide for suitable material, the Czech original has never been identified, though the style is comparable with the Czech ‘Rocking Carol’. ‘Carol of the Drum’ appealed to the Austrian Trapp Family Singers, who first brought the song to wider prominence when they recorded it in 1955, shortly before they retired.”

Knock on Wood

Co-written and first recorded by Eddie Floyd (US #28/R&B #1 1966).
Other hit versions by Otis Redding & Carla Thomas (US #30/R&B #8/UK #35 1967), David Bowie (1974 UK #10/IRE #4), Ami Stewart (US #1/UK #6/CAN #1/ 1979).

From the wiki: “Written by Eddie Floyd and Steve Cropper, ‘Knock on Wood’ was first recorded in 1966 by Eddie Floyd. According to Floyd, the line ‘It’s like thunder, lightning, the way you love me is frightening’ was inspired by a thunderstorm that was occurring the afternoon the song was written with Cropper, the famed Stax guitarist, in a Memphis hotel room.

China Girl

Co-written and originally recorded by Iggy Pop (1977).
Hit version by David Bowie (US #10/UK #2/CAN #2/AUS #2 1983).

From the wiki: “‘China Girl’ is a song co-written by David Bowie and Iggy Pop during their years in Berlin, first appearing on Pop’s 1977 album The Idiot. It was more widely popularized by Bowie on his 1983 album Let’s Dance. Bowie decided to put the song on his album when Pop was in financial straits so that Pop could collect half the royalties (as co-writer of the track) and get back on his feet financially.”

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