Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Olivia Newton-John

Reach Out for Me

First recorded by Lou Johnson (US #74 1963).
Other hit versions by Dionne Warwick (US #20/R&B #1 1964), Olivia Newton-John (MOR #32/AUS #153 1989).

From the wiki: “‘Reach Out for Me’, written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, was first recorded in 1963 by Lou Johnson.

“Johnson came from a musical family, and started singing in gospel choirs in his teens. In 1962, Johnson signed as a solo singer with Bigtop Records, run by the Hill & Range music publishing company in the famed Brill Building. There, he met the songwriting team of Burt Bacharach and Hal David, who took a liking to the singer and wrote Johnson’s first single, ‘If I Never Get to Love You’. Neither that song nor his second record, ‘You Better Let Him Go’ (written by Joy Byers), were hits. But, his third single, ‘Reach Out for Me’, another Bacharach-David composition and this time produced by Bacharach, reached #74 on the Billboard Hot 100 in late 1963. However, as it rose up the charts, the Bigtop Records collapsed, limiting the record’s success.

Please Mr. Please

Co-written and first recorded by Bruce Welch (1974).
Hit version by Olivia Newton-John (US #3/C&W #5/CAN #1 1975).

From the wiki: “‘Please Mr. Please’ was written by Bruce Welch and John Rostill, both members of British pop singer Cliff Richard’s backing band, The Shadows (‘Apache’). Welch originally recorded the song himself in 1974 with no chart success in either the UK or US.

“In 1975, the song appeared on Newton-John’s album, Have You Never Been Mellow, and was released as the album’s second single. Newton-John’s cover of ‘Please Mr. Please’ reached the Top 10 on three major Billboard charts that year, peaking at #3 on the Hot 100 in August 1975, her fifth consecutive Top Ten hit.”

I Honestly Love You

Written and first recorded by Peter Allen (1974).
Hit version by Olivia Newton-John (US #1/MOR #1/C&W #6/UK #22/CAN #1/AUS #1 1974).

From the wiki: “‘I Honestly Love You’ was written by Jeff Barry (‘Chapel of Love‘) and Peter Allen (‘Don’t Cry Out Loud‘); the latter recorded it around the same time as its composition for his album Continental American. It would later appear in the juke-box musical about Allen’s life, The Boy from Oz.”

From Songfacts.com: “Olivia Newton-John recorded ‘I Honestly Love You’ in London. She remembers [being] ‘in a little tiny rickety studio, it was so small. The control room was upstairs and John Farrar was up there with the engineer and I was underneath and they had to sit still because it would creak, and you’d hear it in the microphone.’ Her recording 1974 Grammy Awards for Record of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Performance. It was Olivia Newton-John’s first ever #1 in the US and Canada, and it also topped the charts in Australia.

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