Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Ray Charles

Unchain My Heart

First recorded by Otis Williams & His Charms (1960).
Hit versions by Ray Charles (US #9/R&B #1 1961), Joe Cocker (US #11/UK #46 1987 |UK #17 1992).

From the wiki: “‘Unchain My Heart’ was written by Bobby Sharp, and first recorded in 1960 by Otis Williams & His Charms. Sharp, a drug addict at the time, sold the song to Teddy Powell for $50. Powell demanded half the songwriting credit. Sharp later successfully fought for the rights to his song. In 1987, he was also able to renew the copyright for his publishing company, B. Sharp Music.

“The song became a hit for Ray Charles when released as a single in late 1961. Accompanied by his Raelettes, Charles’ band also included longtime saxophonist David ‘Fathead’ Newman. The track was further popularized by Joe Cocker when he named his 1987 album after the song. The promotional single nudged the US Top 10 in 1987, and also charted in the UK. Cocker’s recording was re-released in 1992 and, second time around, reached #17 on the UK Singles chart.”

Crying Time

Written and first recorded by Buck Owens (B-side 1964).
Hit version by Ray Charles (US #6/R&B #5/UK #50 1965).

From the wiki: “‘Crying Time’ is a song from 1964 written by Buck Owens. Owens recorded the original version of his song and released it as the B-side to ‘I’ve Got a Tiger By the Tail’ in 1964. A cover version of ‘Crying Time’ was then recorded in 1965 by Ray Charles, featuring backing vocals by the Jack Halloran Singers and The Raelettes. His version proved to be a hit strong Top 40 and R&B hit. Charles’ version of ‘Crying Time’ won two Grammy Awards in 1967, in the categories Best R&B Recording and Best R&B Solo Performance.

“Charles and Barbra Streisand together performed the song as a duet on her 1973 album Barbra Streisand … And Other Musical Instruments and on the TV special titled the same.”

Let’s Go Get Stoned

First recorded by The Coasters (1965).
Hit versions by Manfred Mann (UK #1 EP 1965), Ray Charles (US #31/R&B #1 1966).
Also recorded by Ronnie Milsap (1965), Joe Cocker (1969).

From the wiki: “‘Let’s Go Get Stoned’ was written by Nickolas Ashford, Valerie Simpson, and Josephine Armstead, and was originally recorded by The Coasters in May 1965. It is notable for being one of the first successful compositions by Ashford & Simpson (‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’, ‘California Soul‘, ‘Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing’), but was most memorable because it became a 1966 #1 R&B hit for Ray Charles and was recorded shortly after Charles was released from rehab after a sixteen-year heroin addiction. The year prior, the UK group Manfred Mann recorded the song for their #1 British extended-play No Living Without Loving, which topped the UK EP charts in December 1965. Joe Cocker covered the song several times live, most notably at the Woodstock Festival in 1969 and on the Mad Dogs & Englishmen live album released 1970.”

I Can’t Stop Loving You

Originally recorded by Don Gibson (US #81/C&W #7 1957).
Other hit versions by Kitty Wells (C&W #3 1958), Ray Charles (US #1/MOR #1/R&B #1/UK #1/AUS #1 1962), Conway Twitty (C&W #1 1972).

From the wiki: “‘I Can’t Stop Loving You’ was written by Country singer, songwriter and musician Don Gibson, who first recorded it in 1957. It was released in 1958 as the B-side of ‘Oh, Lonesome Me’, becoming a double-sided Country hit single. Kitty Well’s 1958 cover charted even higher on the Country chart.

“The song was most famously covered by Ray Charles in 1962, featured on Charles’ Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music album and released as a single. Charles’ recording reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1962, for 5 weeks and would also top the U.S. R&B and Adult Contemporary charts. (The song, a ‘Country-politan’ ballad with lush, cushioned arrangements, was placed at the 11th spot in the album track listing, assumed by Sid Feller to be the album’s weakest song. After becoming the album’s top-selling single, Charles was disappointed with him, as Feller was in charge of sequencing for the album).

“‘I Can’t Stop Loving You’ was ranked #164 on Rolling Stone magazine’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and #49 on CMT’s 100 Greatest Songs in Country Music.”

You Don’t Know Me

First recorded by Eddy Arnold (C&W #10 1956).
First released by Jerry Vale (US #14 1956).
Hit version by Ray Charles (US #2/MOR #1/R&B #5/UK #9 1962).

From the wiki: “‘You Don’t Know Me’ is a song written by Cindy Walker based on a title and storyline given to her by Eddy Arnold in 1955 and was first recorded by Arnold (who is credited as co-writer) that year, then released by him as a single in September 1956. The first version of the song to make the Billboard charts, however, was by Jerry Vale in July 1956, peaking at #14 on the Billboard Hot 100. Arnold’s version charted two months later, backed with ‘The Rockin’ Mockin’ Bird’, and reached #10 on the Billboard Country chart.

Georgia on My Mind

Co-written and first recorded by Hoagy Carmichael & His Orchestra (1930).
Hit versions by Frankie Trumbauer (1931), Ray Charles (US #1/R&B #3/UK #24 1960).
Also recorded by The Band (1977).

From the wiki: “Written in 1930 by Hoagy Carmichael (music) and Stuart Gorrell (lyrics). Gorrell wrote the lyrics for Hoagy’s sister, Georgia Carmichael. However, the lyrics of the song are ambiguous enough to refer either to the state or to a woman named ‘Georgia’.

Careless Love

First recorded (as “Loveless Love”) by Noble Sissle & His Sizzling Syncopaters (1921).
Also recorded (as “Loveless Love”) by W.C. Handy’s Memphis Blues Band (1921), James P. Johnson (1921), Alberta Hunter (1923).
Other popular versions (as “Careless Love”) by Bessie Smith (US #5 1925), T. Texas Tyler (1946), The Ravens (1949), Fats Domino (1951), Ray Charles (1962).

From the wiki: “‘Careless Love’ is a traditional song of obscure origins. The song lyrics change from version to version, but usually speak of the heartbreak brought on by ‘careless love’; most often a girl’s lament for having loved unwisely, worrying what her mother will say when she returns home, ‘wearing her apron high’ (i. e. pregnant) The song was one of the best-known pieces in the repertory of the Buddy Bolden band in New Orleans, Louisiana, at the very start of the 20th century, but it is thought that the first recording of ‘Loveless Love/Careless Love’ was made by Noble Sissle & His Sizzling Syncopaters at a New York City recording session in January, 1921.

“Bessie Smith recorded the first popular version of ‘Careless Love’ in 1925. The song has since gone on to become a jazz and blues standard. Hundreds more recordings Smith’s nationally-popular verson, in blues, jazz, folk, country, and pop styles. T. Texas Tyler recorded a Texas Swing version in 1946 for 4-Star records. Fats Domino made a recording of it in 1951, releasing it as the B-side of ‘Rockin’ Chair’. Ray Charles’ recorded ‘Careless Love’ for his landmark 1962 album, Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music.

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