Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Ronnie Hawkins & the Hawks

Who Do You Love

Written and first recorded by Bo Diddley (1956).
Also recorded by Ronnie Hawkins & the Hawks (1963), Quicksilver Messenger Service (1967, released 1999), The Band feat. Ronnie Hawkins (1976).
Hit versions by The Woolies (US #95 1967), Quicksilver Messenger Service (US #97 1969), Juicy Lucy (UK #14 1970), George Thorogood & the Destroyers (1978).

From the wiki: “‘Who Do You Love?’ was written by rock and roll pioneer Bo Diddley, and it remains one of his most popular and enduring works. ‘Who Do You Love?’ was part of Bo Diddley’s repertoire throughout his career, but none of his various recordings reached the record charts. First recorded in 1956 and released as the B-side to ‘I’m Bad’, it did not chart. The song reached a bigger audience when it was included on his first compilation album, Bo Diddley, released in 1958.

“In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked Bo Diddley’s original song at #133 on their list of the ‘500 Greatest Songs of All Time’. In 2010, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences acknowledged it with a Grammy Hall of Fame Award, which ‘honor[s] recordings of lasting qualitative or historical significance’.

Dizzy Miss Lizzy

Written and first recorded by Larry Williams (US #69 1958).
Also recorded by Ronnie Hawkins & the Hawks (1959), The Fabulous Echoes (1965), The Plastic Ono Band (1969).
Hit album version by The Beatles (1965).

From the wiki: “‘Dizzy Miss Lizzy’ was composed and first recorded by Larry Williams (‘Nobody‘) in 1958, sharing some similarities with the Little Richard-composed hit ‘Good Golly Miss Molly’. Williams’ original recording peaked at #69 on the Billboard Hot 100 but failed to chart R&B.

“The song has been covered many times, including, and most notably by, the Beatles on the 1965 Help! album. (The recording was initially intended for the 1965 American album Beatles VI, along with the Larry Williams cover, ‘Bad Boy’, recorded by the group on the same day.) Paul McCartney has stated that he believes ‘Dizzy Miss Lizzy’ to be one of the Beatles’ best recordings.

Kansas City

First recorded (as “K.C. Lovin’) by Little Willie Littlefield (1952, reissued/retitled 1959).
Hit versions by Little Richard (as “Kansas City/Hey, Hey, Hey” US #95/R&B #26 1959), Hank Ballard & the Midnighters (US #72/R&B #16 1959), Rocky Olson (US #60 1959), Wilbert Harrison (US #1/R&B #1 1959), James Brown (US #55/R&B #21 1967).
Also recorded (as “Kansas City/Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey”) by The Beatles (1964).

“The battle and the noise is on!” Billboard highlighting the almost-simultaneous releases of five versions of “Kansas City” the same week in March, 1959.

From the wiki: “First recorded by Little Willie Littlefield the same year, ‘Kansas City’ later became a #1 hit when retitled and recorded by Wilbert Harrison (‘Let’s Work Together‘) in 1959 and, then, went on to become one of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller’s most recorded tunes, with more than three hundred versions, with several appearing on the R&B and pop record charts – including five separate singles released the same week in 1959, four of which charted on the Billboard Hot 100.

“Through a connection to producer Ralph Bass, Leiber and Stoller wrote ‘Kansas City’ specifically for West Coast blues/R&B artist Little Willie Littlefield. Littlefield recorded the song in Los Angeles in 1952, during his first recording session for Federal Records. Federal’s Ralph Bass changed the title to ‘K. C. Lovin”, saying he considered it ‘hipper’ than ‘Kansas City’. Littlefield’s record had some success in parts of the U.S., but it did not reach the national chart.

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