Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Mr. Acker Bilk

Frankie and Johnny

First recorded (as “Frankie and Johnnie”) by Gene Greene & Charley Straight (1912).
First US recording by Al Bernard (1921).
Also recorded by Mississippi John Hurt (1928), Mae West (1933).
Popular versions by Ted Lewis & His Band (US #9 1927), Brook Benton (US #20/MOR #6/R&B #14 1961), Mr. Acker Bilk (UK #42 1962), Sam Cooke (US #14/MOR #2/R&B #4/UK #30 1963), Elvis Presley (US #25/UK #21 1966).

From the wiki: “The song ‘Frankie and Johnny’ (sometimes spelled ‘Frankie and Johnnie’; also known as ‘Frankie and Albert’ or just ‘Frankie’) was inspired by one or more actual murders. One took place in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1899 when Frankie Baker, a 22-year-old woman, shot her 17-year-old lover Allen (also known as ‘Albert’) Britt in the abdomen. The song has also been linked to Frances ‘Frankie’ Stewart Silver, convicted in 1832 of murdering her husband Charles Silver in Burke County, North Carolina. Popular St Louis balladeer Bill Dooley composed ‘Frankie Killed Allen’ shortly after the Baker murder case. The first published version of the music to ‘Frankie and Johnny’ appeared in 1904, credited to and copyrighted by Hughie Cannon, the composer of ‘Won’t You Come Home Bill Bailey’.

“In 1934, John A. & Alan Lomax counted some 300 published versions in their American Ballads And Folk Songs. Comment of the Lomaxes: ‘No one has ever publicly heard the same version twice, unless from two convict performers who shared the same cell for years.’ These 300 variations begged for a doctorate’s degree paper, finally written by Bruce Buckley who makes a clear distinction between the Frankie & Albert’s following the St. Louis facts and the more popular fantasy variation, ‘Frankie & Johnny’, published in 1912.

A Taste of Honey

Co-written and first recorded by Bobby Scott (1960).
First vocal version recorded by Billy Dee Williams (1961).
Also recorded by Lenny Welch (1962), The Beatles (1963).
Hit (instrumental) versions by Martin Denny (US #50 1962), Mr. Acker Bilk (UK #16 1963), Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass (US #7 1965).

From the wiki: “‘A Taste of Honey’ was written by Bobby Scott (‘He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother‘) and Ric Marlow. It was originally an instrumental track (or recurring theme) written for the 1960 Broadway version of the 1958 British play A Taste of Honey. The original recorded versions of the song first appeared on Bobby Scott’s 1960 album, also titled A Taste of Honey. His composition would go onto win Best Instrumental Theme at the Grammy Awards of 1963.

“A vocal version of the song, first recorded by Billy Dee Williams in 1961, became popular when it was covered, first, by Lenny Williams in 1962 and, then, by The Beatles in 1963 on their debut UK Parlaphone album Please Please Me, and debut US album Introducing … The Beatles on VeeJay. (The group had begun to incorporate the song into their live repertoire in Hamburg, Germany, in 1962.)

“Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass recorded the most popular instrumental version of the song with a cover on their 1965 album, Whipped Cream & Other Delights. This recording won four Grammy awards in 1966 including Record of the Year.”

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