Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Guy Lombardo

Winter Wonderland

First recorded by Richard Himber & His Ritz-Carlton Orchestra (1934).
Popular versions by Guy Lomabardo’s Royal Canadians (US #2 1934), Ted Weems & His Orchestra (US #13 1934), Johnny Mercer & The Pied Pipers (US #4 1946), Perry Como & the Satisfiers (US #10 1946), Johnny Mathis (UK #17 1958), Darlene Love (1963), Ramsey Lewis Trio (US #27 1966).

From the wiki: “‘Winter Wonderland’, a winter song, is popularly regarded as a Christmas song even though the holiday itself is never mentioned in the lyrics. It was written in 1934 by Felix Bernard (music) and Richard B. Smith (lyricist). Smith, a native of Honesdale, Pennsylvania, was reportedly inspired to write the song after seeing Honesdale’s Central Park covered in snow. Smith had written the lyrics while in the West Mountain Sanitarium, being treated for tuberculosis.

“The original recording was by Richard Himber and his Hotel Ritz-Carlton Orchestra on RCA Bluebird in 1934. At the end of a recording session with time to spare, it was suggested that this new tune be tried with an arrangement provided by the publisher. This ‘studio’ orchestra included many great New York studio musicians including the legendary Artie Shaw. The biggest chart hit at the time of introduction was Guy Lombardo’s orchestra, a Top-10 hit. Singer-songwriter Johnny Mercer took the song to #4 in Billboard’s airplay chart in 1946. The same season, Perry Como hit the retail top ten. (Como would also record a new version for his 1959 Christmas album, Season’s Greetings.)

“Through the decades it has been recorded by over 200 different artists, among them Johnny Mathis (1958), Darlene Love (1963), and The Ramsey Lewis Trio (1966).”

When You Wish Upon a Star

First performed by Cliff Edwards (1940).
Hit versions by Cliff Edwards (US #1 1940), Glenn Miller & His Orchestra (US #1 1940), Guy Lombardo & His Royal Canadians (US #4 1940), Dion & the Belmonts (US #30 1960), Linda Ronstadt (MOR #32 1986).
Also recorded by Mary J. Blige, Barbra Streisand & Chris Botti (2013).

From the wiki: “‘When You Wish Upon a Star’ was written by Leigh Harline and Ned Washington for Walt Disney’s 1940 animated adaptation of Pinocchio. The song won the 1940 Academy Award for Best Original Song, and was also the first Disney song to win an Oscar. It has since become the representative song of The Walt Disney Company (e.g., the ships of the Disney Cruise Line use the first seven notes of the song’s melody as their horn signals).

“The original version was sung by Cliff Edwards (‘Singin’ in the Rain‘) in the character of Jiminy Cricket, and is heard over the opening credits and in the final scene of Pinocchio. Edwards’ original recording for ‘Pinocchio’ won the 1940 Academy Award for Best Song. The American Film Institute ranked ‘When You Wish Upon A Star’ seventh in their 100 Greatest Songs in Film History, the highest-ranked Disney animated film song.

Harbor Lights

First recorded by Frances Langford (US #6 1937).
Other hit versions by Swing and Sway with Sammy Kaye (US #1 1950), Guy Lombardo & His Royal Canadians (US #2 1950), Ray Anthony & His Orchestra (US #4 1950), Bing Crosby (US #8 1950), Dinah Washington (R&B #10 1951), The Platters (US #8/R&B #15/UK #11 1960).

From the wiki: “‘Harbor Lights’ was written by Hugh Williams (pseudonym for Will Grosz) with lyrics by Jimmy Kennedy, and first recorded by Frances Langford (with Sam Koki & His Islanders) in 1937. The most-popular version was recorded in 1950 by Swing & Sway with Sammy Kaye, lasting 25 weeks on the Billboard chart and peaking at #1. Other charting covers in 1950 were recorded by The Guy Lombardo Orchestra, Ray Anthony & His Orchestra, and Bing Crosby. Dinah Washington charted R&B Top 10 in 1951, while The Platters returned ‘Harbor Lights’ to the US Top 40 in 1960.”

Auld Lang Syne

First recorded by Emile Berliner (1898).
Popular version by Guy Lombardo & His Royal Canadians (1939).

From the wiki: “Robert Burns sent a copy of the original song to the Scots Musical Museum (in 1788) with the remark, ‘The following song, an old song, of the olden times, and which has never been in print, nor even in manuscript until I took it down from an old man.’ In 1855, different words were written for the Auld Lang Syne tune by Albert Laighton and titled, “Song of the Old Folks.” This song was included in the songbook, Father Kemp’s Old Folks Concert Tunes, published in Boston, Massachusetts in 1860. For many years it was the tradition of the Stoughton Musical Society to sing this version in memory of those who had died that year. Now, ‘Auld Lang Syne’ is traditionally sung at the conclusion of New Year gatherings in Scotland and around the world, especially in English-speaking countries.

Red Roses for a Blue Lady

First recorded by John Laurenz (1948).
Hit versions by Vaughn Monroe & The Moon Men (US #3 1949), Guy Lombardo & His Royal Canadians (US #8 1949), Bert Kaempert (US #11/MOR #2 1965), Wayne Newton (US #23/MOR #4 1965), Vic Dana (US #10/MOR #2 1965).

From the wiki: “‘Red Roses for a Blue Lady’ was written by Sid Tepper and Roy C. Bennett, and first recorded in 1948 by John Laurenz. The best-selling recording was produced in 1949 by Vaughn Monroe and His Orchestra Vocalists: Vaughn Monroe and The Moon Men. The song was revived three times in 1965: By vocalists Vic Dana and Wayne Newton, and by instrumentalist Bert Kaempfert. Dana’s version was the most successful of the three, peaking at #10 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #2 on the Easy Listening chart.”

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