Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Milton Brown & His Musical Brownies

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)’.

Right or Wrong

First recorded by Mike Markel and His Orchestra (1922).
Also recorded by The Original New Orleans Jazz Band (1925), Art “The Whispering Pianist” Gilham (1926), The Golden Gate Orchestra feat. Scrappy Lambert (1927), Emmett Miller and the Georgia Crackers (1929), Milton Brown & His Musical Brownies (1936), Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys (1937).
Hit version by George Strait (C&W #1/CAN #1 1984).

From the wiki: “‘Right or Wrong’ first came into being as a jazz ballad in 1921. Composed by Arthur Sizemore and Paul Biese, with words by Haven Gillespie, the song was described by the original sheet music as ‘a beautiful fox-trot ballad.’

“‘Right or Wrong’ was recorded by many early jazz and swing orchestras. The earliest known recording is by Mike Markel and His Orchestra the same year the song was published (1921). Other early, and varied, arrangements were recorded by the Original New Orleans Dixie Jazz Band (1925), Scrappy Lambert (1927), and Peggy English (1928). But the arrangement with the longest lasting influence was recorded by Emmett Miller and the Georgia Crackers in 1929. Miller was an American minstrel show performer (often performing in blackface, which accounts for his obscurity today) and recording artist known for his falsetto, yodel-like voice.

“Miller’s singing style – the odd nasal pitch tone, along with the breaking of lines and bars in a song into a high yodel-like yelp – has been imitated by scores of singers since he first began to record in 1924. Jimmie Rodgers, Gene Autry, Lefty Fritzell, Tommy Duncan, Woody Guthrie, Howlin’ Wolf, Leon Redbone, and Bob Dylan have all been influenced by Miller’s one-of-a-kind vocal abilities. Of equal importance was Miller’s visionary fusion of blues and jazz, country and swing, black and white, comedy and crooning. His Georgia Crackers band, too, served as something of an incubator. Members at the time Miller recorded ‘Right or Wrong’ included Tommy Dorsey, Jimmy Dorsey, Gene Krupa, and Eddie Lang.

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