Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Diana Ross

Ease On Down the Road

First recorded by “The Wiz” original cast (1975).
Hit versions by Consumer Rapport (US #42/R&B #19/Dance #1 1975), Diana Ross & Michael Jackson (US #41/R&B #17/UK #45 1978).

From the wiki: “‘Ease On Down the Road’ isthe 1975 Broadway musical The Wiz, an R&B re-interpretation of L. Frank Baum’s ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’. The Charlie Smalls–composed tune is the show’s version of both ‘Follow the Yellow Brick Road’ and ‘We’re Off to See the Wizard’ from the 1939 movie version of The Wizard of Oz. In the song, performed three times during the show, Dorothy and her friends the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion dance their way down the Yellow Brick Road and give each other words of encouragement.

“‘Ease On Down the Road’ was performed in the original Broadway production by Stephanie Mills (Dorothy), Hinton Battle (Scarecrow), Tiger Haynes (Tin Man), and Ted Ross (Cowardly Lion), who also performed the song on the original 1975 cast album for The Wiz. Released as a single in 1975 by the studio group Consumer Rapport, the song became a #1 Disco hit for five non-consecutive weeks.

“A second cover of the song was recorded by Diana Ross and Michael Jackson, for the 1978 feature-film adaptation of The Wiz. It charted #41 on the Billboard Hot 100 and Top-20 on the R&B chart.”

Endless Love

First performed by Shea Chambers (1981).
Hit versions by Diana Ross & Lionel Richie (US #1/MOR #1/R&B #1/UK #7 1981), Mariah Carey & Luther Vandross (US #2/R&B #7/CAN #6/UK #3/IRE #4/AUS #2 1994).

From the wiki: “‘Endless Love’ was written by Lionel Richie, and was first performed in the 1981 movie Endless Love by Shea Chambers (lip-synced by uncredited actress in a singing role) but whose vocal did not appear on the subsequent soundtrack album. The song was then recorded as a duet by Diana Ross and Lionel Richie, and was released as the single from the soundtrack album; released while Richie still officially was a member of The Commodores. The success of the duet encouraged Richie to branch out into a full-fledged, and very successful, solo career.

“The Ross/Richie duet became a #1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100, and nearly 30 years after its release it still remains the best-selling single of Ross’ career. The single stayed at #1 for no less than nine weeks from August 9 to October 10, 1981, making it the biggest-selling single of the year in the US. It also topped the Billboard R&B chart and the Adult Contemporary chart as well as becoming a Top ten hit single in the UK, peaking at #7.

Hold Me

First recorded (as “In Your Arms”) by Diana Ross (1982).
Hit version by Teddy Pendergrass & Whitney Houston (US #46/MOR #6/R&B #5/UK #44 1984).

From the wiki: “‘Hold Me’, originally titled ‘In Your Arms’, was written by Linda Creed & Michael Masser (‘The Greatest Love of All‘), and first recorded by Diana Ross for her 1982 album Silk Electric. In 1984, the song was recorded as a duet by Teddy Pendergrass and Whitney Houston. That recording was released simultaneously as a single in 1984 by both Pendergrass (from his album Love Language) and Houston (from her self-titled debut album, Whitney).”

Do You Know Where You’re Going To?

First recorded by Thelma Houston (1973).
Hit version by Diana Ross (US #1/R&B #14/UK #5/CAN #4 1975).

From the wiki: “‘Do You Know Where You’re Going To’ was written by Michael Masser and Gerry Goffin (‘You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman‘, ‘Up on the Roof‘), and was first recorded in 1973 by Thelma Houston for a New Zealand-only single release (Tamla Motown 872). In 1975, the song was repurposed by Masser and used as the theme to the movie Mahogany. Sung in the film by Diana Ross, it became one of the most recognizable elements of the film. The song topped the US Billboard Hot 100 in 1975, and was also nominated for the 1975 Academy Award for Best Original Song.”

I’m Gonna Make You Love Me

First recorded by Dee Dee Warwick (US #88/R&B #13 1966).
Also recorded by Jerry Butler (1967), Jay & the Techniques (1968).
Hit versions by Madeline Bell (US #26/R&B #32 1968), Diana Ross & The Supremes with The Temptations (US #2/R&B #2/UK #3 1968).

From the wiki: “Written by Philly Soul songwriters Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff (‘If You Don’t Know Me By Now’, ‘Love Train’, ‘Now That We Found Love‘), and producer Jerry Ross (‘Apples, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie‘, ‘Sunny‘), ‘I’m Gonna Make You Love Me’ was originally a Top-20 R&B hit for Dee Dee Warwick in 1966. It was released as the follow-up single to her Top-10 hit ‘I Want To Be With You’. Co-writer Ross produced the track while Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson provided background vocals. Warwick’s recording reached #13 R&B and crossed over to the Billboard Top 100 in December 1966.

Someday We’ll Be Together

First recorded by Johnny & Jackey (1961).
Hit versions by Diana Ross & The Supremes (US #1/R&B #1/UK #11 1969), Bert Kaempfert (MOR #27 1970), Bill Anderson & Jan Howard (C&W #4 1970).

From the wiki: “The song was written by Johnny Bristol, Jackey Beavers, and Harvey Fuqua in 1961. Bristol and Beavers recorded the song together as ‘Johnny & Jackey’ for the Tri-Phi label that same year. ‘Someday ..’ was a moderate success in the Midwestern United States, but gained little notice in other venues.

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