Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Del Shannon

Handy Man

First recorded by Sparks of Rhythm (1956, released 1959).
Hit versions by Jimmy Jones (US #2/R&B #3/UK #3 1960), Del Shannon (US #22/UK #36 1964), James Taylor (US #4/MOR #1/UK #54 1977).

From the wiki: “‘Handy Man’ was written by singer Jimmy Jones and songwriter Otis Blackwell, and was first recorded by The Sparks Of Rhythm, a group of which Jones was a member. Signed to Apollo Records, ‘Handy Man’ was one of four songs the group recorded for the label in 1956 but nothing happened with the recordings, and Jones left the group 2-1/2 months after the session. (When ‘Handy Man’ was belatedly released in 1959, the Sparks Of Rhythm single [on Apollo 541] credited Andrew Barksdale and Charles Merenstein, who owned Apollo Records at the time, as writers, entirely omitting both Jones and Blackwell.)

I Go to Pieces

First recorded by Lloyd Brown (1964).
Also recorded by Del Shannon, writer (1965).
Hit versions by Peter & Gordon (US #9 1965), Cotton Lloyd & Christian (US #66/MOR #10/UK #51 1975).

From the wiki: “Del Shannon (‘Runaway’) wrote ‘I Go to Pieces’ for an R & B singer named Lloyd Brown whom Shannon discovered at a Detroit, Michigan nightclub. Shannon arranged and produced Brown’s recording but was unable to find a label interested in releasing the track. Shannon also attempted to record ‘I Go to Pieces’ for himself in an August 1964 New York City recording session but was unable to cut a satisfactory vocal of the song before his allotted three-hour session ran out. (Shannon would record a cover of his own song a year later, in 1965, after Peter & Gordon (‘A World Without Love‘) had already scored their US Top 10 hit with it.)

(Marie’s the Name) His Latest Flame

Written and first recorded (as “His Latest Flame”) by Del Shannon (1961).
Hit version by Elvis Presley (US #4/UK #1 1961).

From the wiki: “‘(Marie’s the Name) His Latest Flame’ was written by the songwriting team of Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman (‘Save the Last Dance for Me’, ‘This Magic Moment‘, ‘Little Sister’, ‘Teenager in Love‘) and originally recorded by Del Shannon for the album Runaway With Del Shannon, released in June 1961. The more famous and more successful recording by Elvis Presley was released in August 1961.”

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