Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Sam Cooke

Summertime

First recorded by Helen Jepson (1936).
Hit versions by Billie Holiday (US #12 1936), Sidney Bechet (1939), Sam Cooke (US #81 1959), Al Martino (UK #49 1960), The Marcels (US #78/UK #46 1961), Billy Stewart (US #10/R&B #7/UK #39 1966), Fun Boy Three (UK #18 1982).
Also recorded by Janis Joplin (1968).

From the wiki: “‘Summertime’ is an aria composed in 1934 by George Gershwin for the 1935 opera Porgy and Bess. The lyrics are by DuBose Heyward, the author of the, Porgy, on which the opera was based, although the song is also co-credited to Ira Gershwin. The song soon became a popular and much recorded jazz standard, described as ‘without doubt … one of the finest songs the composer ever wrote … Gershwin’s highly evocative writing brilliantly mixes elements of jazz and the song styles of blacks in the southeast United States from the early twentieth century.’

“Gershwin began composing the song in December 1933, attempting to create his own spiritual in the style of the African American folk music of the period. Gershwin had completed setting Heyward’s poem to music by February 1934, and spent the next 20 months completing and orchestrating the score of the opera.

Frankie and Johnny

First recorded by Ted Lewis & His Band (US #9 1927).
Also recorded by Mae West (1933).
Other hit versions by Brook Benton (US #20/MOR #6/R&B #14 1961), Mr. Acker Bilk (UK #42 1962), Sam Cooke (US #14/MOR #2/R&B #4/UK #30 1963), Elvis Presley (US #25/UK #21 1966).

From the wiki: “The song ‘Frankie and Johnny’ (sometimes spelled ‘Frankie and Johnnie’; also known as ‘Frankie and Albert’ or just ‘Frankie’) was inspired by one or more actual murders. One took place in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1899 when Frankie Baker, a 22-year-old woman, shot her 17-year-old lover Allen (also known as ‘Albert’) Britt in the abdomen. The song has also been linked to Frances ‘Frankie’ Stewart Silver, convicted in 1832 of murdering her husband Charles Silver in Burke County, North Carolina. Popular St Louis balladeer Bill Dooley composed ‘Frankie Killed Allen’ shortly after the Baker murder case. The first published version of the music to ‘Frankie and Johnny’ appeared in 1904, credited to and copyrighted by Hughie Cannon, the composer of ‘Won’t You Come Home Bill Bailey’.

“At least 256 different recordings of “Frankie and Johnny” have been made since the early 20th century. Ted Lewis & His Band recorded the first popular rendition in 1927. Mae West inserted her ballad in her successful Broadway play Diamond Lil. West sang the ballad again in her 1933 Paramount film She Done Him Wrong, which takes its title from the refrain, substituting genders. A flurry of recordings in the 1960s made the Pop music charts, including recordings by Sam Cooke (1963) and Elvis Presley (1966).”

Little Red Rooster

First recorded (as “The Red Rooster”) by Howlin’ Wolf (1961).
Hit version by Sam Cooke (US #11/R&B #7 1963), The Rolling Stones (UK #1 1964).
Also recorded by Willie Dixon (1970).

From the wiki: “‘Little Red Rooster’ (also ‘The Red Rooster’) is credited to arranger and songwriter Willie Dixon. It was first recorded in 1961 by Blues musician Howlin’ Wolf in the Chicago Blues style. Sam Cooke adapted the song, sweetened it with additional instrumentation, and it saw chart success in 1963 as a Top 40 and R&B hit. The Rolling Stones recorded ‘Little Red Rooster’ in 1964 with original member Brian Jones, a key player in the recording. Their rendition, which remains closer to the original arrangement than Cooke’s, became a #1 record in the UK and is still the only Blues song to reach the top of the British chart.”

There! I’ve Said It Again

First recorded by The Benny Carter Orchestra (1941).
Hit versions by Vaughn Monroe (US #1 1945), Jimmy Dorsey & His Orchestra (US #8 1945), The Modernaires (US #11 1945), Sam Cooke (US #81/R&B #25 1959), Bobby Vinton (US#1/UK #34 1963).

From the wiki: “‘There! I’ve Said It Again’ was written by Redd Evans and David Mann – popularized originally by Vaughn Monroe, with the Norton Sisters, in 1945, and then again in late 1963 by Bobby Vinton whose version topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1964 and remained there for four weeks. Vinton’s recording would be the last song to reach #1 on the Hot 100 before ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’ by The Beatles topped the chart and changed the course of music history.”

Try a Little Tenderness

First recorded by Roy Noble Orchestra (1932).
Hit versions by Ruth Etting (US #16 1933), Ted Lewis & His Band (US #6 1933), Aretha Franklin (US #100 1962), Otis Redding (US #25/R&B #4/UK #26 1966), Three Dog Night (US #29 1969).
Also recorded by Little Miss Cornshucks (1951), Sam Cooke (1964).
Also performed by Tom Jones (1969), Paul Giamatti & Andre Braugher (2000).

From the wiki: “‘Try a Little Tenderness’ is a song written by Jimmy Campbell and Reg Connelly, a British songwriting team who often collaborated with a third composer – in this case the American, Harry Woods. The song was first recorded on December 8, 1932 by the Ray Noble Orchestra (with vocals by Val Rosing) followed in early 1933 by Ruth Etting’s first charting version. The song quickly became a standard. Subsequent productions were recorded by Frank Sinatra, Mel Tormé, Frankie Laine, Earl Grant, Nina Simone, Etta James and others – including a discovery by Atlantic Records founder, Ahmet Ertegun: Little Miss Cornshucks.

Sweet Soul Music

Inspired by “Yeah Man” by Sam Cooke (1964).
Hit version by Arthur Conley, co-writer (US #2/R&B #2/UK #7 1967).

From the wiki: “‘Sweet Soul Music’ was written by Arthur Conley and Otis Redding, and based on the Sam Cooke song ‘Yeah Man’ from his posthumous album Shake. J. W. Alexander, Sam Cooke’s business partner, sued both Redding and Conley for plagiarizing the melody. A settlement was reached in which Cooke’s name was added to the writer credits, and Otis Redding agreed to record some songs in the future from Kags Music, the Cooke–Alexander publishing enterprise. ‘Sweet Soul Music’ is an homage to Soul music, with these songs mentioned in the lyrics: ‘Going to a Go-Go’, ‘Love is a Hurtin’ Thing’, ‘Hold On, I’m Comin”, ‘Mustang Sally’, and ‘Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa’.”

Shake

Originally recorded by Sam Cooke (US #7/R&B #2 1965).
Other hit version by Otis Redding (US #47/R&B #16/UK #28 1967).
Also recorded by The British Walkers (US #108 1967).

From the wiki: “‘Shake’ was a song written and recorded by Sam Cooke at the last session Cooke had before he meet his untimely death in December 1964. Posthumously released in 1965, ‘Shake’ reached the US Top 10, his last song to do so. Otis Redding would record his first cover of ‘Shake’ in 1965. A live version, from the 1967 album Live in Europe, would be released as a single in May 1967. Redding’s 1965 recording would later be elected to the 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.

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