Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Joe Cocker

Unchain My Heart

First recorded by Otis Williams & His Charms (1960).
Hit versions by Ray Charles (US #9/R&B #1 1961), Joe Cocker (US #11/UK #46 1987 |UK #17 1992).

From the wiki: “‘Unchain My Heart’ was written by Bobby Sharp, and first recorded in 1960 by Otis Williams & His Charms. Sharp, a drug addict at the time, sold the song to Teddy Powell for $50. Powell demanded half the songwriting credit. Sharp later successfully fought for the rights to his song. In 1987, he was also able to renew the copyright for his publishing company, B. Sharp Music.

“The song became a hit for Ray Charles when released as a single in late 1961. Accompanied by his Raelettes, Charles’ band also included longtime saxophonist David ‘Fathead’ Newman. The track was further popularized by Joe Cocker when he named his 1987 album after the song. The promotional single nudged the US Top 10 in 1987, and also charted in the UK. Cocker’s recording was re-released in 1992 and, second time around, reached #17 on the UK Singles chart.”

Midnight Rider

Written and first recorded by The Allman Brothers (1970).
Also recorded by Buddy Miles (1971).
Hit versions by Joe Cocker (US #23 1972), Gregg Allman (US #19 1973), Paul Davidson (UK #10 1976), Willie Nelson (C&W #6 1980).

From the wiki: “‘Midnight Rider’ is a popular and widely covered song by The Allman Brothers Band from their 1970 album Idlewild South, written by Gregg Allman and Robert Kim Payne. Drummer Buddy Miles (Electric Flag, Jimi Hendrix) recorded the first cover of ‘Midnight Rider’, in 1971, for the album A Message to the People. Recordings by Joe Cocker, Gregg Allman himself (on his solo album Laid Back), Paul Davidson, and Willie Nelson have all reached the US and UK charts as singles but the song, as recorded by The Allman Brothers Band, was never released as a single.”

Let’s Go Get Stoned

First recorded by The Coasters (1965).
Hit versions by Manfred Mann (UK #1 EP 1965), Ray Charles (US #31/R&B #1 1966).
Also recorded by Ronnie Milsap (1965), Joe Cocker (1969).

From the wiki: “‘Let’s Go Get Stoned’ was written by Nickolas Ashford, Valerie Simpson, and Josephine Armstead, and was originally recorded by The Coasters in May 1965. It is notable for being one of the first successful compositions by Ashford & Simpson (‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’, ‘California Soul‘, ‘Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing’), but was most memorable because it became a 1966 #1 R&B hit for Ray Charles and was recorded shortly after Charles was released from rehab after a sixteen-year heroin addiction. The year prior, the UK group Manfred Mann recorded the song for their #1 British extended-play No Living Without Loving, which topped the UK EP charts in December 1965. Joe Cocker covered the song several times live, most notably at the Woodstock Festival in 1969 and on the Mad Dogs & Englishmen live album released 1970.”

I’ve Got to Use My Imagination

Co-written and first recorded by Barry Goldberg (1973).
Hit version by Gladys Knight & The Pips (US #4/R&B #1 1973).
Also recorded by Bob Dylan (bootleg 1984), Joe Cocker (1989), Gerry Goffin, co-writer (1995), Joan Osborne (2007).

From the wiki: “‘I’ve Got to Use My Imagination’ was written by Gerry Goffin (‘Up on the Roof‘, ‘Oh No Not My Baby‘, ‘Saving All My Love for You‘, ‘One Fine Day’) and Barry Goldberg, and was first recorded by Goldberg in 1973 at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio with co-producer Bob Dylan on backing vocals and percussion. Goldberg was the keyboardist behind Dylan at the infamous ‘Dylan goes electric’ Newport Folk Festival performance in 1965, and it was Dylan who helped Goldberg secure the deal with Atlantic Records that resulted in the 1974 release of Barry Goldberg.

Something

Written and first recorded (as a demo) by George Harrison (1969).
First commercial recording by Joe Cocker (1969).
Hit versions by The Beatles (US #1/UK #4 1969), Shirley Bassey (US #55/UK #4 1970), Johnny Rodriguez (C&W #6 1974)
Also recorded by Ray Charles (1971).

From the wiki: “‘Something’ was the first Beatles song written by lead guitarist George Harrison to appear as an A-side single, and the only song written by him to top the US charts while he was in the band. Harrison began working on a song that eventually became known as ‘Something’ during the 1968 recording sessions for The Beatles (aka The White Album). Harrison recorded the demo of ‘Something’ on February 25, 1969, his 26th birthday.

“Harrison’s original intention had been to offer the song to Apple Records signing Jackie Lomax as he had done with a previous composition, ‘Sour Milk Sea’. When this fell through, ‘Something’ was instead given to Joe Cocker to record. Cocker completed his recording at A&M Studios in Los Angeles before The Beatles completed their recording in August 1969 at Abbey Road, but Cocker’s recording was not released (on Joe Cocker!, his second album) until November 1969 – six weeks after the release of The Beatles’ Abbey Road.

Feelin’ Alright?

First recorded by Traffic (1968).
Hit versions by Joe Cocker (US #69 1969 |US #33/NETH #11 1972), Mongo Santamaria (US #95 1969), Grand Funk Railroad (US #54/CAN #20 1971).
ALso recorded by Three Dog Night (1969), Chairmen of the Board (1970), Jackson 5 (1971).

From the wiki: “‘Feelin’ Alright?’ (also known as ‘Feeling Alright’) was written by Dave Mason of the band Traffic from their eponymous 1968 album, Traffic.”

You Are So Beautiful

Co-written and first recorded by Billy Preston (1974).
Hit version by Joe Cocker (US #5 1975).

From the wiki: “Written by Dennis Wilson (The Beach Boys), Billy Preston, and Bruce Fisher (‘If I Ever Lose This Heaven‘), ‘You Are So Beautiful’ was first recorded by Preston and made popular by Joe Cocker.

Have a Little Faith in Me

Written and first recorded by John Hiatt (1988).
Hit versions by Joe Cocker (UK #67 1994), Mandy Moore (US #39 2003).

From the wiki: “‘Have a Little Faith in Me’ is a song written and performed by John Hiatt (‘Sure As I’m Sittin’ Here‘) that first appeared on his 1987 album Bring the Family.

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