Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Peggy Lee

Baubles, Bangles & Beads

First recorded by the Original Cast of Kismet (1953).
Hit versions by Peggy Lee (US #30/AUS #9 1954), Georgia Gibbs (B-side US #18 1954), The Kirby Stone Four (US #25 1958), Frank Sinatra (1959), Frank Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim (1967), Deodato (1973).

From the wiki: “‘Baubles, Bangles & Beads’ is from the 1953 musical Kismet, credited to Robert Wright and George Forrest. Like all the music in that show, the melody was based on works by Alexander Borodin, in this case the second theme of the second movement of his String Quartet in D.

“The best-selling version of the song was recorded by Peggy Lee in 1953, charting in 1954. Another popular cover from 1954 was recorded by Georgia Gibbs, released as the B-side to ‘Somebody Bad Stole De Wedding Bell’. A Kirby Stone Four re-make hit the Billboard Top 100 in 1958 and remains the favorite cover heard on Adult Standard (MOR) radio stations. Frank Sinatra recorded the song twice: in 1959 with the Billy May Orchestra, and again in 1967 in a Bossa nova arrangment with guitarist Antonion Carlos Jobim. (Eumir) Deodato recorded an instrumental version for his hit LP of 1973.

“The most curious version mixed the scherzo of Borodin’s ‘String Quartet No. 2’ with the pop arrangement of ‘Baubles, Bangles & Beads’, under the name ‘Borodin, Bangles & Beads’, and arranged by the Argentine Ernesto Acher in 1987 on his album Juegos.”

Till There Was You

First commercial release by Sue Raney & The Nelson Riddle Orchestra (November 1957).
First performed by Barbara Cook & Robert Preston (December 1957).
Hit versions by Anita Bryant (US #30 1959), Peggy Lee (UK #30 1961).
Also recorded by Sonny Rollins (1958), The Beatles (1962 & 1963).

From the wiki: “‘Till There Was You’ was written by Meredith Willson for his 1957 musical play (and, later, movie) The Music Man, the original cast album for which was released in 1957. The first recording of the song to be commercially released came even before the original cast album release in January 1958. Promotional copies of a 45-rpm single were released on November 26, 1957 (before the Broadway premiere on December 19) featuring The Nelson Riddle Orchestra and 17-year-old vocalist Sue Raney.

“Jazz saxophonist Sonny Rollins recorded an instrumental version of “Till There Was You” in 1958. Anita Bryant had the first chart success with the song, making the Billboard Top 40 in 1959. Peggy Lee charted UK Top-30 the same year in Great Britain in 1961 with her recording of “Till There Was You”.

“Paul McCartney, of The Beatles, was introduced to Peggy Lee’s music by his older cousin, Bett Robbins, and it would be the only Broadway song the group performed or would record. ‘Till There Was You’ became part of the Beatles’ repertoire in 1962 and was first recorded by them as part of their failed audition for Decca Records in January 1962. The George Martin-produced version, recorded in July 1963, would appear in the UK on With The Beatles, the group’s second album, in November 1963. ‘Till There Was You’ would also be the second of five songs The Beatles performed during their first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show on February 9, 1964.

Fly Me to the Moon

First recorded (as “In Other Words”) by Kaye Ballard (1954).
Hit versions by Eydie Gorme (US #20 1958), Joe Harnell (US #14 1962).
Also recorded by Peggy Lee (1960), Frank Sinatra (1964).

From the wiki: “‘Fly Me to the Moon’, originally titled ‘In Other Words’, was written in 1954 by Bart Howard and first recorded for a B-side by Kaye Ballard. In 1954, Bart Howard had already been pursuing a career in music for more than 20 years. He played piano to accompany cabaret singers but also wrote songs, with Cole Porter being his idol.

“In response to a publisher’s request for a simpler song, Bart Howard wrote a cabaret ballad in waltz time which he titled ‘In Other Words’. A publisher tried to make him change some lyrics from ‘fly me to the moon’ to ‘take me to the moon’ but Howard refused to do this. Many years later Howard commented that ‘… it took me 20 years to find out how to write a song in 20 minutes.’

“Kaye Ballard made the first commercial recording of ‘In Other Words’ in April 1954. Other versions of it would be recorded the next few years by other artists. The first chart appearance of ‘In Other Words’ was in 1958 when Eydie Gorme took the song into the Top 20, and it was nominated for a Grammy Award.

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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