Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Gabor Szabo

Gypsy Queen

Written and first recorded by Gabor Szabo (1966).
Hit album version by Santana (1970).

From the wiki: “Hungarian jazz guitarist Gabor Szabo (‘Breezin’‘)wrote and recorded ‘Gypsy Queen’ for his 1966 album Spellbinder. Szabo had escaped Communist Hungary in 1956 for the US, where he entered the Berklee School of Music, Boston. By 1958, Szabo had been invited to perform at the prestigious Newport Jazz Festival. Szabo incorporated elements of Folk music from his native Hungary, from Gypsy and Roma influences, into his guitar playing, and his guitar style would strongly influence Carlos Santana’s work. (Santana’s 2012 instrumental album Shape Shifter includes a song titled “Mr. Szabo”, played in tribute in the style of Szabo).

Breezin’

Originally recorded by Gabor Szabo (US #43 1971).
Hit version by George Benson (US #63/R&B #65 1976).

From the wiki: “‘Breezin” was written by Bobby Womack (‘It’s All Over Now‘) and first recorded by Hungarian Jazz guitarist Gabor Szabo. Szabó was famous for mixing jazz, pop-rock and his native Hungarian music. He began playing guitar at the age of 14, inspired by jazz music he heard on the Voice of America broadcasts. He escaped Hungary and moved to the United States in 1956, a year of the attempted revolt against Soviet-dominated Communist rule, and attended the Berklee School of Music in Boston.

Black Magic Woman

Written by Peter Green and first recorded by Fleetwood Mac (UK #37 1968).
Other hit version by Santana (US #4/CAN #4/AUS #15/GER #14 1970).

From the wiki: “‘Black Magic Woman’ was written by Peter Green of Fleetwod Mac and appeared as a Fleetwood Mac single in various countries in 1968, peaking at #37 on the UK Singles chart; subsequently appearing on the 1969 Fleetwood Mac compilation albums English Rose (US) and The Pious Bird of Good Omen (UK).

“The song became a fairly popular Blues-Rock hit for Fleetwood Mac, being featured by the group in live set-lists even after Green had left the band, the lead often sung by Danny Kirwan. And, during concerts in the early 1970s, ‘Black Magic Woman’ would form the basis for long mid-concert Blues jams by Fleetwood Mac. The song would often be introduced by a band member reminding the audience that it was a Fleetwood Mac song before it became such a big hit for Santana.

“Santana’s version, recorded in 1970, is a medley, on the album Abraxas, with the instrumental ‘Gypsy Queen’, written by Gábor Szabó (‘Breezin’‘), a mix of jazz, Hungarian folk and Latin rhythms. The song became one of Santana’s staples and one of their biggest hits, with an edited single version reaching #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 in January 1971.”

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