Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Little Richard

Keep A-Knockin’

First recorded (as “Keep A-Knockin’ An You Can’t Get In”) by James “Boodle It” Wiggins (February 1928), and (as “You Can’t Come In”) Bert Mays (October 1928).
Other versions by Lil Johnson (as “Keep on Knocking” 1935), Milton Brown & His Musical Brownies (as “Keep a Knockin'” 1936), Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys (as “Keep Knockin’ (But You Can’t Come In)” 1938), Louis Jordan & His Tympany Five (as “Keep A-Knockin'” 1939).
Hit version by Little Richard (US #8/R&B #2/UK #21 1957).

From the wiki: “‘Keep A-Knockin” has one of those confounding origin pedigrees more common than not in the early days of recorded music. Several recordings used similar lyrics and similar melody, with a baffling merry-go-round of credits … or non-credits.

“In 1928, a few months apart, James ‘Boodle It’ Wiggins and Bert Mays, each independent of the other, recorded the similarly-titled and similarly-sounding songs ‘Keep a-Knockin’ An You Can’t Get It’ and ‘You Can’t Come In’ – but neither recording listed a writer’s credit. This was followed by recordings in the 1930s by Lil Johnson, Milton Brown, and Bob Wills, respectively titled ‘Keep on Knocking’ (credited to Wiggins), ‘Keep a Knockin” (uncredited), and ‘Keep Knockin’ (But You Can’t Come In) (uncredited)’.

Good Golly Miss Molly

First released by The Valiants (1957).
Hit versions by Little Richard (US #10/R&B #4/UK #8 1958), The Swinging Blue Jeans (US #43/UK #11 1964).
Also recorded by Los Teen Tops (1959).

From the wiki: “‘Good Golly Miss Molly’ was written by John Marascalco and producer Robert ‘Bumps’ Blackwell. Although it was first recorded in 1956 by Little Richard, Blackwell – after leaving Specialty Records (Little Richard’s label) to manage Sam Cooke – produced another version, by The Valiants, that was rush-released to radio and stores only to be quickly eclipsed when Richard’s recording was finally, belatedly released.

Baby Face

First recorded by The Jan Garber Orchestra (US #1 1926).
Other popular versions by Ipana Troubadours (US #10 1926), Art Mooney (US #3 1948), Little Richard (US #41/R&B #12/UK #2/NOR #1 1958), Bobby Darin (US #42/UK #40 1962), Wing and a Prayer Fife & Drum Corps (US #14/Soul #32 1976).

From the wiki: “‘Baby Face’ was written by Harry Akst, the lyrics by Benny Davis. The song was published in 1926, and first became popular that same year when recorded by the Jan Garber Orchestra. It has since been covered by many recording artists, including Al Jolson, The Revelers, Bobby Darin, and Wing and a Prayer Fife & Drum Corps. Swan Districts, an Australian Rules club in the WAFL since 1934, bases its club song on this tune.

Kansas City

First recorded (as “K.C. Lovin’) by Little Willie Littlefield (1952, reissued/retitled 1959).
Hit versions by Little Richard (as “Kansas City/Hey, Hey, Hey” US #95/R&B #26 1959), Hank Ballard & the Midnighters (US #72/R&B #16 1959), Rocky Olson (US #60 1959), Wilbert Harrison (US #1/R&B #1 1959), James Brown (US #55/R&B #21 1967).
Also recorded (as “Kansas City/Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey”) by The Beatles (1964).

“The battle and the noise is on!” Billboard highlighting the almost-simultaneous releases of five versions of “Kansas City” the same week in March, 1959.

From the wiki: “First recorded by Little Willie Littlefield the same year, ‘Kansas City’ later became a #1 hit when retitled and recorded by Wilbert Harrison (‘Let’s Work Together‘) in 1959 and, then, went on to become one of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller’s most recorded tunes, with more than three hundred versions, with several appearing on the R&B and pop record charts – including five separate singles released the same week in 1959, four of which charted on the Billboard Hot 100.

“Through a connection to producer Ralph Bass, Leiber and Stoller wrote ‘Kansas City’ specifically for West Coast blues/R&B artist Little Willie Littlefield. Littlefield recorded the song in Los Angeles in 1952, during his first recording session for Federal Records. Federal’s Ralph Bass changed the title to ‘K. C. Lovin”, saying he considered it ‘hipper’ than ‘Kansas City’. Littlefield’s record had some success in parts of the U.S., but it did not reach the national chart.

The Girl Can’t Help It

First recorded by Little Richard (R&B #7/UK #9 1956).
Also covered by The Animals (1964), The Everly Brothers (1965), The Flamin’ Groovies (1969), Led Zeppelin/The Nobs (1970), Mick Ronson (1975), Darts (as “Daddy Cool/The Girl Can’t Help It” UK #6 1977), Bonnie Raitt (as “The Boy Can’t Help It” (1979), Babes in Toyland (2001).

From the wiki: “‘The Girl Can’t Help It’ is the title song to the film The Girl Can’t Help It, composed by songwriter Bobby Troup (‘Route 66’, ‘Girl Talk’, ‘The Meaning of the Blues’). The recording was released in December 1956 and peaked at #49 on the Billboard Top 100 singles chart (also UK #9 and US R&B #7 ), and is included in the Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Originally, Fats Domino was lined up to record the track, which was not written to be a Rock song. The movie, The Girl Can’t Help It, was originally intended as a vehicle for the American sex symbol Jayne Mansfield, with a satirical subplot involving teenagers and rock ‘n’ roll music. The unintended result has been called the ‘most potent’ celebration of Rock music ever captured on film. The original music score included the title song performed by Little Richard. Reportedly, the producers had wanted Elvis for ‘The Girl Can’t Help It’, but Elvis’s manager Tom Parker demanded too much money.

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