Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Otis Blackwell

Hey Little Girl

Inspired by “Hambone” by The Red Saunders Orchestra with The Hambone Kids (1952).
Hit version by Dee Clark (US #20/R&B #2 1959).

From the wiki: “Dee Clark was born Delecta Clark (or Delectus Clark, Jr.), in Blytheville, Arkansas, in 1938 and moved to Chicago in 1941. His mother, Essie Mae Clark, was a Gospel singer and encouraged her son to pursue his love of music. Clark made his first recording in 1952 as one of the original members of The Hambone Kids, who enjoyed some success with a recording, with The Red Saunders Orchestra, of ‘Hambone’ on the OKeh label. Clark embarked on a solo career in 1957, initially following the styles of Clyde McPhatter and Little Richard. When Little Richard temporarily abandoned his music career to study the Bible, Clark fulfilled Richard’s remaining live dates and also recorded with his backing band, The Upsetters.

“Over the next four years Clark landed several moderate hits, two of which (‘Just Keep It Up’ and the Otis Blackwell-composed ‘Hey Little Girl’) reached the top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100. Clark’s biggest single, ‘Raindrops’, a ballad augmented by heavy rain and thunder sound effects and Clark’s swooping falsetto, was released in the spring of 1961 and became his biggest hit, charting Top 5 in the US and internationally.”

(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear

First recorded (as a demo) by Otis Blackwell (1957).
Hit version by Elvis Presley (US #1/C&W #1 1957).

From the wiki: “‘(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear’ was written by Kal Mann and Bernie Lowe, and first recorded as a demo – at Mann and Lowe’s request – by Otis Blackwell (‘Fever‘, ‘Handy Man‘, ‘All Shook Up‘). Written for Elvis Presley’s second feature film, the semi-biographical Loving You, the song was a #1 hit for Presley during the summer of 1957, staying at #1 for 7 weeks, and was the third of four #1 songs Presley would have that year.

All Shook Up

First recorded (as “I’m All Shook Up”) by Dave Hill (1957).
Hit version by Elvis Presley (US #1/C&W #3/R&B #1/UK #1 1957).
Also recorded by Otis Blackwell, writer (1978).

From the wiki: “Otis Blackwell wrote the song at the offices of Shalimar Music in 1956 after Al Stanton, one of Shalimar’s owners, shaking a bottle of Pepsi at the time, suggested Otis write a song based around the phrase ‘all shook up’.

Fever

Originally recorded by Little Willie John (US #24/R&B #1 1956).
Other hit versions by Peggy Lee (US #8/UK #5 1958), Helen Shapiro (UK #38 1964), The McCoys (US #7/UK #44 1965), Madonna (DANCE #1/UK #6 1993).

From the wiki: “The idea for the song was presented to Otis Blackwell (‘All Shook Up‘) by an old friend, Eddie Cooley. Blackwell said: ‘Eddie Cooley was a friend of mine from New York and he called me up and said ‘Man, I got an idea for a song called Fever, but I canĀ“t finish it. I had to write it under another name [‘John Davenport’] because, at that time, I was still under contract to Joe Davis.’ Little Willie John reportedly disliked the song, but was persuaded to record it on March 1, 1956. His version was released in April 1956 and became a double-sided hit along with the top-ten R&B song ‘Letter from My Darling’. ‘Fever’ reached #1 for three weeks on the R&B Best Sellers chart. It also made the pop charts, peaking at #24 on the Billboard chart.

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