Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Fats Waller

Beale Street Blues

First recorded by Prince’s Band (1917).
Popular versions by W.C. Handy (1917), Jelly Roll Morton (1926), Fats Waller & Alberta Hunter (1927), “Big” Joe Turner (1940), Louis Armstrong (1954), Ella Fitzgerald (1958).

From the wiki: “‘Beale Street Blues’ was written in 1917 by American composer and lyricist W.C. Handy. The title refers to Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee, the main entertainment district for the city’s African American population in the early part of the twentieth century, and a place closely associated with the development of the Blues. ‘Beale Street Blues’ was first popularized for a mass audience when sung on Broadway by Gilda Gray in the 1919 musical revue Schubert’s Gaieties.

“Like many of Handy’s songs, Beale Street Blues is a hybrid of the blues style with the popular ballad style of the day, the opening lyrics following a line pattern typical of Tin Pan Alley songs and the later stanzas giving way to the traditional three-line pattern characteristic of the Blues. The song itself is now in the public domain in the United States, due to expiration of the copyright, though most of the recordings of it are still covered by their own copyrights.”

On the Sunny Side of the Street

First recorded by Roger Wolfe Kahn & His Orchestra with Harry Richman (US #13 1930).
Other popular versions by the Ted Lewis Orchestra (US #2 1930), Lionel Hampton (R&B #10 1938), Jo Stafford & the Pied Pipers (US #13 1944), Tommy Dorsey & the Sentimentalists (US #1 1945).
Also recorded by Fats Waller, Louis Armstrong & Jack Teagarden (1938).

From the wiki:”‘On the Sunny Side of the Street’ is to Jimmy McHugh, with lyrics by Dorothy Fields. But, some authors believe that Fats Waller was the composer, selling his rights for the money. (Fats Waller & His Rhythm performed the song live with Louis Armstrong and Jack Teagarden in a radio broadcast from Martin Block‚Äôs Make Believe Ballroom in October 1938.) The song was first recorded in 1930, in the Broadway musical Lew Leslie’s International Revue starring Harry Richman and Gertrude Lawrence. Richman first recorded ‘On the Sunny Side of the Street’ in 1930 and a recording by the Ted Lewis Orchestra released the same year came close to topping the Hit Parade.

“Other hit versions were recorded by Lionel Hampton (1938), Jo Stafford & the Pied Pipers (1944), and Tommy Dorsey & the Sentimentalists (1945).”

Sugar Blues

First recorded by Leona Williams & Her Dixie Band (1922).
Popular versions by Clyde McCoy (US #2 1931), Fats Waller (1935), Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys (1936), Ella Fitzgerald & the Chick Webb Orchestra (1940), Johnny Mercer (US #4 1947).

From the wiki: “‘Sugar Blues’ was written in 1920 by Clarence Williams and recorded for the first time by Leona Williams (no relation) and Her Dixie Band in 1922. The song was made popular by Clyde McCoy in 1931, featuring the sound of the growling wah-wah mute. MCcoy recorded it no less than four times, and it became his trademark song. ‘Sugar Blues’ would also be recorded by Fats Waller (1935), Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys (1936), and Ella Fitzgerald (1940), and chart again on the Hit Parade in 1947 with a vocal cover by noted songwriter-lyricist Johnny Mercer (‘Satin Doll’, ‘Fools Rush In‘, ‘Jeepers Creepers‘).”

I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter

First recorded by Fats Waller & His Rhythm (US #5 1935).
Other hit versions by The Boswell Sisters (US #3 1936), Billy Williams (US #3 1957), Willie Nelson (C&W #26/CAN #25 1981).
Also recorded by Frank Sinatra (1954 & 1962), Bing Crosby with Bob Scobey’s Frisco Jazz Band (1957), Bill Haley & His Comets (1957).

From the wiki: “‘I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter’ was composed in 1935 by Fred E. Ahlert and Joe Young, and has become a standard of the Great American Songbook. The first recording on the song was by Fats Waller & His Rhythm, in a Victor Records recording session on May 8, 1935. It was covered the following year by The Boswell Sisters, reaching #3 on US popular music charts. (Connee Boswell would record a solo version in 1952.)

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