Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Emmett Miller

Right or Wrong

First recorded by Mike Markel and His Orchestra (1922).
Also recorded by The Original New Orleans Jazz Band (1925), Art “The Whispering Pianist” Gilham (1926), The Golden Gate Orchestra feat. Scrappy Lambert (1927), Emmett Miller and the Georgia Crackers (1929), Milton Brown & His Musical Brownies (1936), Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys (1937).
Hit version by George Strait (C&W #1/CAN #1 1984).

From the wiki: “‘Right or Wrong’ first came into being as a jazz ballad in 1921. Composed by Arthur Sizemore and Paul Biese, with words by Haven Gillespie, the song was described by the original sheet music as ‘a beautiful fox-trot ballad.’

“‘Right or Wrong’ was recorded by many early jazz and swing orchestras. The earliest known recording is by Mike Markel and His Orchestra the same year the song was published (1921). Other early, and varied, arrangements were recorded by the Original New Orleans Dixie Jazz Band (1925), Scrappy Lambert (1927), and Peggy English (1928). But the arrangement with the longest lasting influence was recorded by Emmett Miller and the Georgia Crackers in 1929. Miller was an American minstrel show performer (often performing in blackface, which accounts for his obscurity today) and recording artist known for his falsetto, yodel-like voice.

“Miller’s singing style – the odd nasal pitch tone, along with the breaking of lines and bars in a song into a high yodel-like yelp – has been imitated by scores of singers since he first began to record in 1924. Jimmie Rodgers, Gene Autry, Lefty Fritzell, Tommy Duncan, Woody Guthrie, Howlin’ Wolf, Leon Redbone, and Bob Dylan have all been influenced by Miller’s one-of-a-kind vocal abilities. Of equal importance was Miller’s visionary fusion of blues and jazz, country and swing, black and white, comedy and crooning. His Georgia Crackers band, too, served as something of an incubator. Members at the time Miller recorded ‘Right or Wrong’ included Tommy Dorsey, Jimmy Dorsey, Gene Krupa, and Eddie Lang.

Lovesick Blues

First recorded (as “I’ve Got The Love-sick Blues”) by Elsie Clark (1922).
Also recorded by Jack Shea (1922), Emmett Miller & His Georgia Crackers (1928), Rex Griffin (1939).
Hit versions by Hank Williams (US #24/C&W #1 1949), Frank Ifield (US #44/UK #1 1962).

From the wiki: “First published as ‘I’ve Got The Love-sick Blues’ and introduced by Vaudeville singer Anna Chandler in the musical Oh, Ernest, ‘Lovesick Blues’ was first recorded by Elsie Clark in a March 1922 for OKeh Records and covered by Jack Shea for Vocalion Records later the same year. In 1928It was covered by Emmet Miller in 1928 (accompanied by his ‘Georgia Crackers’, Tommy Dorsey, Jimmy Dorsey, Eddie Lang, and Leo McConville) and, in 1939, by Country singer Rex Griffin.

“The recordings by Miller and Griffin would inspire Hank Williams to perform the song during his first appearances on The Louisiana Hayride in 1948. Receiving an enthusiastic reception by the audience, Williams decided to record his own version despite an initial push-back from his producer Fred Rose and his band. Williams’ recording would go on to become one of the biggest Country hits ever – spending 16 weeks at #1 in 1949. Co-writer Irving Mills also wrote ‘It Don’t Mean A Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing’, ‘Mood Indigo’ and ‘Caravan‘ in partnership with Duke Ellington. The other co-author, Cliff Friend, sold his share for $500 during the Depression.”

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