Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: David Bowie

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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