Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Ramsey Lewis Trio

Winter Wonderland

First recorded by Richard Himber & His Ritz-Carlton Orchestra (1934).
Popular versions by Guy Lomabardo’s Royal Canadians (US #2 1934), Ted Weems & His Orchestra (US #13 1934), Johnny Mercer & The Pied Pipers (US #4 1946), Perry Como & the Satisfiers (US #10 1946), Johnny Mathis (UK #17 1958), Darlene Love (1963), Ramsey Lewis Trio (US #27 1966).

From the wiki: “‘Winter Wonderland’, a winter song, is popularly regarded as a Christmas song even though the holiday itself is never mentioned in the lyrics. It was written in 1934 by Felix Bernard (music) and Richard B. Smith (lyricist). Smith, a native of Honesdale, Pennsylvania, was reportedly inspired to write the song after seeing Honesdale’s Central Park covered in snow. Smith had written the lyrics while in the West Mountain Sanitarium, being treated for tuberculosis.

“The original recording was by Richard Himber and his Hotel Ritz-Carlton Orchestra on RCA Bluebird in 1934. At the end of a recording session with time to spare, it was suggested that this new tune be tried with an arrangement provided by the publisher. This ‘studio’ orchestra included many great New York studio musicians including the legendary Artie Shaw.

“The biggest chart hit rendition of ‘Winter Wonderland’ at the time of introduction in 1934 was performed by Guy Lombardo’s orchestra, a Top-10 hit. Singer-songwriter Johnny Mercer took the song back onto the charts, in 1946, to #4 on the Hit Parade. The same season, Perry Como hit the retail Top-10 with his recording. (Como would also record a new version for his 1959 Christmas album, Season’s Greetings.)

“Through the decades it has been recorded by over 200 different artists, among them Johnny Mathis (1958), Darlene Love (1963), and The Ramsey Lewis Trio (1966).”

Wade in the Water

First recorded by The Sunset Four Jubilee Singers (1925).
Also recorded by Birmingham Jubilee Singers (1930), Odetta (1954), Johnny Griffin & the Big Soul Band (1960), Graham Bond Organisation (1965).
Hit versions by Ramsey Lewis (US #19/R&B #3/UK #31 1966), Herb Alpert (US #37/MOR #5 1967).
Melodic refrain used (in “Little Walter”) by Tony! Toni! Toné! (1988).

From the wiki: “‘Wade in the Water’ is the name of a Negro Spiritual first published in New Jubilee Songs as Sung by the Fisk Jubilee Singers (1901). It is associated with the songs of the Underground Railroad, and the verses reflect the Israelites’ escape out of Egypt as found in the Book of Exodus. Some sources claim that songs such as ‘Wade in the Water’ contained explicit instructions to fugitive slaves on how to avoid capture. (This particular song allegedly recommends leaving dry land and taking to the water as a strategy to throw pursuing bloodhounds off one’s trail.) The first known recording was made in 1925 by The Sunset Four Jubilee Singers.

“Other early recordings were published by the Birmingham Jubilee Singers (1930) and Odetta (1954). A 1960 instrumental recording by Johnny Griffin & the Big Soul Band is thought to have inspired both the Graham Bond and Ramsey Lewis recordings.

The “In” Crowd

First recorded by Dobie Gray (US #13/R&B #11/UK #25 1965).
Also recorded by First Gear (1965).
Other hit versions by The Ramsey Lewis Trio (US #5/R&B #2 1965), Bryan Ferry (UK #13 1974).

From the wiki: “‘The ‘In’ Crowd’ is a 1964 song written by Billy Page and arranged by his brother Gene that was originally performed by Dobie Gray on his album Dobie Gray Sings for ‘In’ Crowders That ‘Go Go. Gray’s powerful Motown-like version, complete with brass section, reached #13 in the US and #25 in the UK in 1965. The Ramsey Lewis Trio recorded an instrumental version of the tune later that same year at the suggestion of a coffee shop waitress.

Hang On, Sloopy

First recorded (as “My Girl Sloopy”) by The Vibrations (US #26/R&B #10 1964).
Hit versions by Little Caesar & The Consuls (CAN #1/US #50 1965), The McCoys (US #1/UK #5 1965), The Ramsey Lewis Trio (US #11/R&B #6 1965).

From the wiki: “‘Hang On, Sloopy’ is a 1964 song owned by Wes Farrell and Bert Russell, originally titled ‘My Girl Sloopy’. A tale told around Columbus, Ohio, is that Sloopy was a waitress/singer, who used the name ‘Sloopy’ on stage. The truth is the song was never about her. It was written by a St. Louis teen who created a fictitious ‘Sloopy’ and then sold his publishing rights to Farrell and Russell.

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