Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Eric Clapton

May You Never

Written and first recorded by John Martyn (1971).
Re-recorded by John Martyn (1973).
Hit album version by Eric Clapton (1977).

From the wiki: “‘May You Never’ became something of a signature song for its writer, John Martyn, becoming a staple of his live performances. Released in November 1971 as a single, in an early form with a full band, the song was re-recorded during for the Solid Air album sessions in 1973. Eric Clapton covered ‘May You Never’ on his 1977 album Slowhand. When Martyn was presented with a lifetime achievement award at the 2008 BBC Folk Awards, Clapton sent a message saying that [Martyn] was ‘so far ahead of everything else it was inconceivable’ and acknowledged the extent of his influence on ‘everyone who ever heard him.'”

Change the World

Originally recorded by Wynonna (Feb 1996).
Hit version by Eric Clapton (US #5/MOR #1/R&B #54/UK #18 July 1996).

From the wiki: “Previous to the release of Clapton’s hit version, the song was recorded by Country superstar Wynonna Judd for her album Revelations, released in February 1996. Wynonna, however, did not release her version as a single despite the popularity of Clapton’s subsequent recording released to radio in July 1996.

After Midnight

Written and first recorded by J.J. Cale (1966).
Hit versions by Eric Clapton (US #18 1970), J.J. Cale (re-recording US #42 1972).
Also recorded by The Pioneers (1971), Chet Atkins (1972), Sergio Mendes (1972), Maggie Bell (1974), Pretty Lights (2009).

From the wiki: “J.J. Cale wrote ‘After Midnight’ in 1966 and first released it as single (on Liberty Records) the same year with no apparent chart success. But, the song would become the catalyst for his future solo recording career success. When Eric Clapton was working with Delaney & Bonnie Bramlett, Delaney Bramlett introduced Eric to Cale’s music. ‘After Midnight’ was the first of several Cale cover songs released by Clapton and it first appeared on his 1970 self-titled debut album. Clapton’s single peaked at #18 in late 1970.

“Cale was unaware of Clapton’s 1970 recording of the song until it became a radio hit. He recalled to Mojo magazine that when he heard Clapton’s version playing on his radio, ‘I was dirt poor, not making enough to eat and I wasn’t a young man. I was in my thirties, so I was very happy. It was nice to make some money.’ Cale’s friend and producer Audie Ashworth then encouraged him to capitalize on the song’s success by recording a full album, Naturally, released in 1972. A re-recording of ‘After Midnight’ was released from the album as a single in 1972. Cale’s recording reached #42 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1972.

Behind the Mask

Written and first recorded by Yellow Magic Orchestra (1979).
Hit versions by Greg Phillinganes (R&B #77/DANCE #4 1985), Eric Clapton (UK #15 1987).
Also recorded by Michael Jackson (1982, released 2010), Ryuichi Sakamoto & Bernard Fowler (1987), The Human League & Yellow Magic Orchestra (1993).

From the wiki: “‘Behind the Mask’ is a Synth-Pop song by electronic band Yellow Magic Orchestra, written by member Ryuichi Sakamoto and first produced as an instrumental in 1978 for a Seiko watch commercial. It was later released in 1979 as part of the band’s Solid State Survivor album with English lyrics added by Chris Mosdell. Sakamoto already had the melody line when he asked poet and lyricist Mosdell to write lyrics, which Mosdell based on the imagery of a Japanese traditional Noh mask, combined with a poem by Irish poet W.B. Yeats called, ‘The Mask’.

For Your Love

Written and first recorded (as a demo) by Graham Gouldman (1965).
Hit version by The Yardbirds (US #6/UK #3/CAN #1 1965).

From the wiki: “‘For Your Love’ was written by future 10cc member Graham Gouldman and first recorded by him as a demo. Gouldman wrote the song at the age of 19 while employed by day in a gentlemen’s outfitters near Salford Docks and playing by night with the semi-professional Manchester band The Mockingbirds. Gouldman’s manager, Harvey Lisberg, was so impressed by the song he told Gouldman they should offer it to the Beatles.

I Shot the Sheriff

Written and first recorded by The Wailers (1973).
Hit version by Eric Clapton (US #1/UK #9/CAN #1/NZ #1 1974).

From the wiki: “‘I Shot The Sheriff’ was written by Bob Marley, told from the point of view of a narrator who claims to have acted in self-defense when the sheriff tried to shoot him. The song was first released in 1973 on The Wailers’ album Burnin’. Eric Clapton recorded a cover version that was included on his 1974 album, 461 Ocean Boulevard. It is the most successful version of the song, peaking at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. In 2003, Clapton’s version was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.”

Willie and the Hand Jive

Written and originally recorded by The Johnny Otis Show (US #9/R&B #5 1958).
Other hit versions by The Strangeloves (US #100 1966), Eric Clapton (US #26 1974), George Thorogood (US #63 1985).

From the wiki: “The origin of the song came when one of Otis’ managers, Hal Zeiger, found out that rock’n’roll concert venues in England did not permit the teenagers to stand up and dance in the aisles, so they instead danced with their hands while remaining in their seats. The music was based on a song Otis had heard a chain gang singing while touring, combined with work Otis did as a teenager when he was performing with Count Otis Matthews and the West Oakland House Stompers.

Only You Know and I Know

Written and originally recorded by Dave Mason (US #42 1970).
Hit album version by Delaney and Bonnie (1970).

From the wiki: “Dave Mason co-founded the rock band Traffic, but left following the recording of their debut album, Mr. Fantasy (1967), only to rejoin halfway through the sessions for their next album, Traffic (1968), after which he left again. Last Exit (1969) From 1969 through 1970, Mason toured with Delaney and Bonnie and Friends along with Eric Clapton and George Harrison.

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