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 1977).

From the wiki: “‘Handy Man’ was written by singer Jimmy Jones and songwriter Otis Blackwell. Recordings by Del Shannon and also The Sparks Of Rhythm list Charles Merenstein as a co-writer, and The Sparks Of Rhythm version on the Apollo 541 single version released in 1959 credits Andrew Barksdale and Merenstein as writers, entirely omitting Jones and Blackwell. ‘Handy Man’ was originally recorded by The Sparks Of Rhythm, a group Jones had been a member of when he wrote it but wasn’t when ‘Handy Man’ was recorded in February 1956.

“In 1959, Jones recorded the song himself, in an arrangement reworked by co-writer Blackwell who also produced the session. After ‘Handy Man’ starting moving up the music charts, Apollo Records released the Sparks of Rhythm version. Jone’s ‘Handy Man’ went to #3 on the R&B charts and #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1960, becoming a million seller while the Sparks of Rhythm recording was lost in oblivion. ‘Handy Man’ was a hit again in 1964 for Del Shannon and, yet again (as a slow ballad) in 1977, for James Taylor.”

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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