Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Dobie Gray

Rose Garden

First recorded by Billy Joe Royal (1967).
Also recorded by Dobie Gray (US #119 1969), Joe South, writer (1969), The Three Degrees (1970).
Hit version by Lynn Anderson (US #3/C&W #1/UK #3 1970).

From the wiki: “‘Rose Garden’ was written by Joe South (‘Down in the Boondocks’) and first recorded by Billy Joe Royal (‘Down in the Boondocks’) in 1967 for the album Billy Joe Royal Featuring Hush. Several cover versions were recorded soon thereafter, including productions by the writer, Joe South, Dobie Gray and The Three Degrees, before Lynn Anderson took ‘Rose Garden’ to the top of the US Country Singles chart. Anderson had wanted to record the song but her producer (and husband) Glenn Sutton felt it was a ‘man’s song’, in part because of the line ‘I could promise you things like big diamond rings’.

“But, after arranging a more up-tempo, light-hearted melody, Sutton and the studio musicians were impressed with the results. Columbia Records’ executive Clive Davis was equally impressed and insisted the song be released as a single in both the country and pop markets. Shortly after its breakthrough on US Top 40 radio, the song became an international hit. A cover version released by Sandie Shaw in UK ultimately failed to chart, as Anderson’s version quickly became a major success there.”

The “In” Crowd

First recorded by Dobie Gray (US #13/R&B #11/UK #25 1965).
Also recorded by First Gear (1965).
Other hit versions by The Ramsey Lewis Trio (US #5/R&B #2 1965), Bryan Ferry (UK #13 1974).

From the wiki: “‘The β€˜In’ Crowd’ is a 1964 song written by Billy Page and arranged by his brother Gene that was originally performed by Dobie Gray on his album Dobie Gray Sings for ‘In’ Crowders That ‘Go Go. Gray’s powerful Motown-like version, complete with brass section, reached #13 in the US and #25 in the UK in 1965. The Ramsey Lewis Trio recorded an instrumental version of the tune later that same year at the suggestion of a coffee shop waitress.

All I Wanna Do is Make Love to You

First recorded (as “All I Want to Do is Make Love to You”) by Dobie Gray (1979).
Hit version by Heart (US #2/UK #8/CAN #1/AUS #1 1990).

From the wiki: “It was composed by veteran songwriter and producer Robert John ‘Mutt’ Lange. The song was first recorded as ‘All I Want to Do is Make Love to You’ by Dobie Gray in 1979, though with completely different lyrics.

Drift Away

First recorded by John Henry Kurtz (1972).
Hit versions by Dobie Gray (US #5/R&B #42 1973), Narvel Felts (C&W #8 1973), Uncle Cracker & Dobie Gray (US #9/MOR #1 2003).
Also recorded by The Rolling Stones (unreleased 1974).

From the wiki: “‘Drift Away’ was written by Mentor Williams (brother of songwriter Paul Williams) as a lament of the difficulties being a Nashville songwriter. John Henry Kurtz was the first to record ‘Drift Away’, for his own album, Reunion (1972), on which he was backed by some of L.A.’s finest: Skunk Baxter, Kenny Loggins, Michael Omartian, Jim Gordon, and others. Kurtz was a man of many talents: Broadway, movie and TV actor; Civil War collectibles buff (some of which were filmed for Ken Burns’ PBS-TV series, Civil War); voice-over artist (NBC Nightly News, and countless commercials); musician.

“In 1973 the song became Dobie Gray’s biggest hit, peaking at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was the final pop hit for Decca Records in the United States. In the early 1960s Gray had moved to Los Angeles, intending to pursue an acting career while also singing to make money. Born Lawrence Darrow Brown, he recorded for several local labels under the names Leonard Ainsworth, Larry Curtis, and Larry Dennis, before Sonny Bono directed him toward the small independent Stripe Records. They suggested that he record under the name ‘Dobie Gray’, an allusion to the then-popular sitcom The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis

“Gray’s first taste of success came in 1963 when his seventh single ‘Look At Me’, on the Cor-Dak label and recorded with bassist Carol Kaye, reached #91 on the Billboard Hot 100. Greater success came in early 1965 when his original recording of ‘The ‘In’ Crowd‘ (recorded later that year as an instrumental by Ramsey Lewis). Gray’s record reached #11 on the US R&B chart, and #25 in the UK.

“A Country version of ‘Drift Away’ was recorded by Narvel Felts in 1973. Felts’ version β€” which changed the lyrics ‘I wanna get lost in your rock and roll’ to ‘I wanna get lost in your country song’ β€” peaked at #8 on the Billboard’ Hot Country Singles chart in mid-August 1973, about three months after Gray’s version reached its popularity peak.

“A cover version was released by Uncle Kracker in 2003 from his album No Stranger To Shame. This version, which featured Dobie Gray singing the final verse, reached #9 on the Hot 100, one week to the day after Gray’s 63rd birthday. It spent a record-setting 28 weeks atop the Adult-contemporary (MOR) chart in the U.S.

“There is an unreleased 1974 recording of this song by the Rolling Stones. This ‘Drift Away’ features all of the members of the then-current lineup of the Stones with the addition of keyboardist Nicky Hopkins.”

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