Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Johnny Otis

Dance with Me, Henry

First recorded and co-written (as “The Wallflower”) by Etta James (R&B #1 1955).
Other hit version by Georgia Gibbs (US #1 1955).
Also re-recorded by Etta James (1958).

From the wiki:”‘The Wallflower’ (also known as ‘Roll with Me, Henry’ and ‘Dance with Me, Henry’) was one of several answer songs to ‘Work with Me, Annie’, by Hank Ballard & the Midnighters. Written by Johnny Otis (‘Willie and the Hand Jive‘), Hank Ballard (‘The Twist‘) and Etta James, James recorded it for Modern Records, with uncredited vocal responses from Richard Berry (‘Louie, Louie‘), under the title ‘The Wallflower’ and it became a R&B hit, topping the U.S. R&B chart for 4 weeks. More popularly known as ‘Roll with Me Henry’, James’ original version was considered too risque to play on Pop radio stations. In 2008, James received a Grammy Hall of Fame Award for her original 1955 recording.

“In 1955, the song was covered for the Pop music market by Georgia Gibbs – with uncredited vocal responses from Thurl Ravenscroft (the booming voice behind Tony the Tiger’s ‘They’re grrreat!’ in Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes television commercials, and as the vocalist for the song ‘You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch’), under the title ‘Dance with Me Henry’.”

Harlem Nocturne

First recorded by Ray Anthony & His Orchestra (1939).
Hit versions by Herbie Fields (1953), The Viscounts (US #52 1959 |US #39 1966).
Also recorded by Johnny Otis (1945), Mel Torme (1963), Duke Ellington (c. 1970?).

From the wiki: “‘Harlem Nocturne’ was written by Earle Hagen and Dick Rogers in 1939. The song was adopted by bandleader Randy Brooks the next year as his theme song, but was first recorded in 1939 by Ray Anthony & His Orchestra. Hagen was a trombonist in Ray Noble’s band at the time. He had been inspired by Duke Ellington’s saxophone player Johnny Hodges and wrote ‘Harlem Nocturne’ for Noble’s sax man Jack Dumont, originally titling it ‘Duke’s Soup’. The name change was suggested by the publisher.

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.

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