Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Beatles

Take Good Care of My Baby

First recorded (as a demo) by Carole King (1961).
Also recorded by Dion & the Belmonts (1961), The Beatles (1962).
Hit versions by Bobby Vee (US #1/UK #3 1961), Bobby Vinton (US #33 1968).

From the wiki: “‘Take Good Care of My Baby’ was written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin, and was first recorded by King as a demo in 1961. Dion & the Belmonts were the first to record the song for commercial release but their version was not published until release of the album Runaround Sue in the slipstream of Bobby Vee’s #1 hit. The song was covered by The Beatles during their audition at Decca Records on January 1, 1962 but was unreleased until 2009. In 1968, ‘Take Good Care’ became a hit again, this time for Bobby Vinton.”

One After 909

First recorded by The Quarrymen (1958).
Also recorded by The Beatals (1960), The Beatles (1962), The Beatles (1963).
First released by Terry Manning (1968).
Hit album version by The Beatles (1969).

From the wiki: “‘One After 909’ is the oldest known Beatles song. It was written as early as 1957, one of the first Lennon-McCartney compositions (‘[‘One After 909′] was something I wrote when I was about seventeen,’ John Lennon explained in his 1980 Playboy magazine interview), and was first recorded c. 1958 by The Quarrymen according to Mike McCartney. The then-name Beatals recorded ‘One After 909’ sometime between January-August 1960, after Stu Sutcliffe had joined as the bass player but before the addition of Pete Best on drums. The Beatles, sans Sutcliffe but with Best on drums, also recorded the song during rehearsals in 1962 at The Cavern Club, Liverpool. The group first recorded ‘One After 909’ in a studio during the sessions for the group’s third single, ‘From Me to You’, with Ringo Starr on drums, but that recording was unreleased until Anthology I in 1995.

Dizzy Miss Lizzy

Written and first recorded by Larry Williams (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’. The song has been covered many times, including, most famously, 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. ‘Dizzy Miss Lizzy’ also appeared as a live recording by the Beatles’ John Lennon on The Plastic Ono Band’s Live Peace in Toronto 1969 album.

Nobody’s Child

First recorded by Hank Snow (1949).
Hit versions by Lonnie Donegan (1956), Tony Sheridan & the Beat Brothers (1961 |B-side US #19/UK #29 1964), Karen Young (UK #6 1969), Hank Williams Jr. (C&W #46 1969), The Traveling Wilburys (UK #44 1990).

From the wiki: “‘Nobody’s Child’ was written by Cy Coben and Mel Foree and was first recorded by Hank Snow in 1949, becoming one of his standards although it did not chart for him. The song lyrics are about an orphan whom no one wants to adopt because he is blind, and has been covered a number of times in the UK. It was on Lonnie Donegan’s first album in 1956 (which went to #2 as an album in the UK). It was covered by Tony Sheridan & the Beat Brothers (The Beatles) in 1961 in Hamburg and was used as the B-side to both the ‘Ain’t She Sweet’ and ‘Sweet Georgia Brown‘ singles when released in 1964 as part of Beatlemania. (Beatle George Harrison was also one of the Wilburys twenty-five years later.) In 1969, Karen Young again charted the song in the UK.

“In the US, Hank Williams Jr. recorded a version of ‘Nobody’s Child’ that made it to #46 on the US Country charts in 1969. The Traveling Wilburys’ cover recording made it to #44 on the UK charts as the lead promotional single from the benefit album Nobody’s Child: Romanian Angel Appeal released in July 1990.”

I’ll Follow the Sun

First recorded by The Silver Beetles (1960).
Hit album version by The Beatles (1964).

From the wiki: “‘I’ll Follow the Sun’ was written and sung by Paul McCartney and credited to Lennon–McCartney. It appears on the Beatles for Sale album in the UK and on Beatles ’65 in the US, but was written long before. A version recorded in 1960 can be found in the bootleg record You Might As Well Call Us the Quarrymen. One reason The Beatles didn’t use the song on their first three albums was because it didn’t ‘sound’ tough enough for the group’s leather-jacketed early image. By the time the group did record it, for their fourth LP, the rhythm had changed from a Rockabilly shuffle to a gentle Cha-cha. Ringo Starr kept the beat by smacking his palms on his knees.

Old Brown Shoe

First recorded (as a demo) by The Beatles (January 1969).
Also recorded (as a solo demo) by George Harrison (February 1969).
Hit album version by The Beatles (April 1969).

From the wiki: “‘Old Brown Shoe’ was written by George Harrison and would be released by The Beatles as the B-side to ‘The Ballad of John and Yoko’. The song was recorded during the sessions for the Abbey Road album, first by the group over a three-day period while participating in a Let It Be film session at Apple Studios in January 1969. Harrison then made a multi-tracked solo demo (featuring only piano and electric guitar) at EMI Studios on 25 February 1969. There is some controversy over whether Harrison played bass on the completed album version, recorded in April 1969. In a two-part Creem interview (published in December 1987 and January 1988), Harrison appears to confirm he played bass on the recording:

‘Creem: You also told me you played bass on ‘Old Brown Shoe’.
George: It’s like a lunatic playing.
Creem: It sounds like McCartney was going nuts again.
George: That was me going nuts. I’m doing exactly what I do on the guitar.'”

Words of Love

Written and first recorded by Buddy Holly (1957).
Hit version by The Diamonds (US #13 1957).
Also recorded by The Beatles (1964).

From the wiki: “‘Words of Love’ was written by Buddy Holly and recorded by him on April 8, 1957. Holly sang all the harmonies, with producer Norman Petty double-tracking each part and combining them. The song was not a notable hit for Holly, although it is regarded as one of his most important recordings. The version by The Diamonds, released in May 1957, reached #13 on the Billboard Hot 100 in July. ‘Words of Love’ was also covered by The Beatles on the album Beatles for Sale. John Lennon and Paul McCartney were big Buddy Holly fans; it would be his songs that inspired them to become songwriters. The Beatles’ association with ‘Words of Love’ dates back to the groups’ earliest days playing The Cavern in 1961 and 1962.”

Across the Universe

First released by The Beatles (1968).
Hit album version by The Beatles (1969).

From the wiki: “‘Across the Universe’ was written by John Lennon, and credited to Lennon–McCartney. The song first appeared on the various artists’ charity compilation album No One’s Gonna Change Our World, in December 1969, and later, in different form, on Let It Be, the Beatle’s final released album.

Goodbye

Written and first recorded (as a demo) by Paul McCartney (1968).
Hit version by Mary Hopkin (US #13/UK #2/CAN #14/NETH #1 1969).

From the wiki: “‘Goodbye’ is a song written by Paul McCartney (but credited to Lennon–McCartney) and performed by Mary Hopkin. The song was conceived as a follow-up to the success of Hopkin’s first single, produced by McCartney, titled ‘Those Were the Days‘, which was highlighted on her debut album Postcard, one of the first records issued by the newly founded Apple Records.

Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight

First released by Trash (1969).
Hit album version by The Beatles (1969).

From “One Hit Wonders“: “If you were going to isolate an aspect of the Abbey Road album song cycle and issue it as a single, ‘Golden Slumbers/ Carry That Weight’ would be the obvious pairing. The Beatles clearly had no interest in doing so, but Trash – one of their Apple signings – were encouraged to exploit the potential of the tunes by the enterprising employee Richard Dilello.

Come and Get It

Written and first recorded (as a demo) by Paul McCartney (1969).
Hit version by Badfinger (US #7/UK #4 1969).

From the wiki: “Paul McCartney recorded a solo demo of his song on 24 July 1969, when he arrived early for an Abbey Road album session. He sang the double-tracked lead vocal and played all the instruments: he sang and played piano on the first take, sang again and played maracas on the first overdub, drums came third and bass guitar was added last. It took less than an hour to finish.

Bring Back My Bonnie to Me

First recorded by Hayden Quartet (1901).
Hit versions by Alma Gluck & the Orpheus Quartet (US #10 1919), Vipers Skiffle Group (1955), Duane Eddy (as “Bonnie Come Back”, US #23/UK #12 1960), Tony Sheridan & the Beat Brothers (as “My Bonnie”, GER #5 1961 |UK #48 1963 |US #26 1964), Bonnie Brooks (as “Bring Back My Beatles (to Me)”, 1964).

From the wiki: “In 1881, under the duo of pseudonyms H.J. Fuller and J.T. Wood, Charles E. Pratt published sheet music for ‘Bring Back My Bonnie to Me’. The first recording of the song was done in 1901 by the Hayden Quartet. Alma Gluck charted with her 1919 recording. In popular culture, the song is now best remembered for the 1961 recording by Tony Sheridan that brought The Beatles (recording as ‘The Beat Brothers’) to Brian Epstein’s attention in 1962, preceded by a Duane Eddy instrumental cover that had earlier charted in the UK and the US and an even earlier cover recorded by Vipers Skiffle Group (who also recorded ‘Maggie Mae‘ that The Beatles would cover on Abbey Road).

“Another Vipers-Beatles connection: Vipers Skiffle Group recordings were produced by George Martin who would go on to famously become the ‘fifth Beatle’ as the Beatle’s producer. ”

Come Together

Inspired by “You Can’t Catch Me” by Chuck Berry (1956).
Hit version by The Beatles (US #1/UK #4 1969).

From the wiki: “In 1969, Lennon composed the song ‘Come Together’ for The Beatles’ album Abbey Road but its history began when Lennon was inspired by Timothy Leary’s campaign for governor of California against Ronald Reagan, which promptly ended when Leary was sent to prison for possession of marijuana. Lennon recalled, ‘The thing was created in the studio. It’s gobbledygook; ‘Come Together’ was an expression that Leary had come up with for his attempt at being president or whatever he wanted to be, and he asked me to write a campaign song. I tried and tried, but I couldn’t come up with one. But I came up with this, Come Together, which would’ve been no good to him – you couldn’t have a campaign song like that, right?’

If I Fell

First recorded (as a demo) by John Lennon (1964).
Hit version by The Beatles (US #53 1964).

From the wiki: “John Lennon got a head start on writing new material for the yet untitled first Beatles movie, in early January 1964, when he wrote and recorded the initial home demos for ‘If I Fell’ in his London flat. He later recalled ‘[This was] my first attempt to write a ballad proper. ‘In My Life’ was the first one that worked as a ballad.’ Brought into the studio for the group to record, ‘If I Fell’ was recorded in 15 takes on 27 February 1964. The song’s acoustic introduction – which is not repeated elsewhere in the song, musically or lyrically – made its first appearance on take 11. However, the home demo recorded by Lennon also contained the passage.

A Taste of Honey

Co-written and first recorded by Bobby Scott (1960).
First vocal version recorded by Billy Dee Williams (1961).
Also recorded by Lenny Welch (1962), The Beatles (1963).
Hit (instrumental) versions by Martin Denny (US #50 1962), Mr. Acker Bilk (UK #16 1963), Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass (US #7 1965).

From the wiki: “‘A Taste of Honey’ was written by Bobby Scott (‘He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother‘) and Ric Marlow. It was originally an instrumental track (or recurring theme) written for the 1960 Broadway version of the 1958 British play A Taste of Honey. The original recorded versions of the song first appeared on Bobby Scott’s 1960 album, also titled A Taste of Honey. His composition would go onto win Best Instrumental Theme at the Grammy Awards of 1963.

“A vocal version of the song, first recorded by Billy Dee Williams in 1961, became popular when it was covered, first, by Lenny Williams in 1962 and, then, by The Beatles in 1963 on their debut UK Parlaphone album Please Please Me, and debut US album Introducing … The Beatles on VeeJay. (The group had begun to incorporate the song into their live repertoire in Hamburg, Germany, in 1962.)

“Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass recorded the most popular instrumental version of the song with a cover on their 1965 album, Whipped Cream & Other Delights. This recording won four Grammy awards in 1966 including Record of the Year.”

Sweet Georgia Brown

First recorded by Ben Bernie & His Hotel Roosevelt Orchestra (US #1 1925).
Also recorded by Ethel Waters (US #6 1925), Isham Jones & His Orchestra (US #5 1925), Red Nichols & His Orchestra (1930).
Best-known recordings by Bing Crosby (US #5 1932), Stéphane Grappelli & Django Reinhardt (1938), Brother Bones & His Shadows (US #10/R&B #9 1948), Tony Sheridan & The Beat Brothers (1962).

From the wiki: “”Sweet Georgia Brown” is a Jazz standard and Pop tune written in 1925 by Ben Bernie, Maceo Pinkard (music) and Kenneth Casey (lyrics). It is believed Ben Bernie came up with the concept for the song’s lyrics – although he is not the accredited lyricist – after meeting Dr. George Thaddeus Brown in New York City: Dr. Brown, a longtime member of the State House of Representatives for Georgia, told Bernie about Dr. Brown’s daughter Georgia Brown and how subsequent to the baby girl’s birth on August 11, 1911 the Georgia General Assembly had issued a declaration that she was to be named Georgia after the state, an anecdote which would be directly referenced by the song’s lyric: ‘Georgia claimed her – Georgia named her.’ The tune was first recorded in March 1925 by Bernie & his Hotel Roosevelt Orchestra, resulting in a five-week run at #1.

Michelle

First recorded by The Beatles (1966).
Hit versions by The Overlanders (UK #1 1966), Billy Vaughn (US #77/MOR #17 1966), David & Jonathan (US #18/UK #11 1966), The Spokesmen (US #106 1966), Bud Shank & Chet Baker (US #65/MOR #12 1966).
Also recorded by Jan & Dean (1966), The Singers Unlimited (1971).

From the wiki: “One of Rubber Soul’s most memorable songs, ‘Michelle’ was written by Paul McCartney with a little help from the wife of an old schoolfriend. The song is one of McCartney’s oldest compositions, having been started around 1959; composed on his first-ever guitar, a Zenith. ‘Michelle’ won the Grammy Award for Song of the Year in 1967 and has since become one of the best-known and most-often recorded of all Beatles songs … but was never released in the US or the UK by the Beatles as a single (although Beatles’ singles of ‘Michelle” did top singles charts in France and Norway).

“After The Beatles declined to release the song as a single, ‘Michelle’ became a UK hit in 1966 for The Overlanders. Of all the covers recorded of ‘Michelle’ released to date, the recording by David & Jonathan (nom de plume of songwriters Roger Cook and Roger Greenway, ‘I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing‘) was the only recording of ‘Michelle’ that made the US Billboard Top 40.

Rock and Roll Music

Written and first recorded by Chuck Berry (US #8/R&B #6 1957).
Also recorded by The Beatles (1964).
Other hit versions by Humble Pie (US #105 1975), The Beach Boys (US #5/UK #36 1976).

From the wiki: “‘Rock and Roll Music’ was written and recorded by Rock and Roll icon Chuck Berry. The song has been widely covered and is recognized as one of Berry’s most popular and enduring compositions, and has been recorded by many well-known artists, including Bill Haley & His Comets, The Beatles, The Beach Boys, REO Speedwagon, Mental As Anything, Humble Pie, and Manic Street Preachers.

And I Love Her

First recorded (in an uptempo arrangement) by The Beatles (1964).
Hit versions by The Beatles (US #12 1964), Esther Phillips (US #54/R&B #11 1965), The Vibrations (US #118/R&B #47 1966).

From the wiki: “‘And I Love Her’ was written by Paul McCartney (credited to Lennon-McCartney) for the movie soundtrack of A Hard Day’s Night. It was composed in the music room in the basement of the house in Wimpole Street, London, which belonged to the parents of Jane Asher, Paul‘s then-current girlfriend. It is likely that Asher was the inspiration behind the song. The Beatles began recording the song on 25 February 1964. They recorded two takes that day, with a full electric line-up, but it was evidently not the sound they were after. The second take was later released on Anthology 1. The group returned to it the next day, recording 16 takes and changing the song’s arrangement as they went along.

Oh! Darling

First recorded (as a demo) by Paul McCartney (1969).
Hit album version by The Beatles (1969).

From the wiki: “‘Oh! Darling’ was a song by The Beatles composed by Paul McCartney (credited to Lennon–McCartney) and appearing as the fourth song on the album, Abbey Road, in 1969. Its working title was ‘Oh! Darling (I’ll Never Do You No Harm)’. McCartney later said of recording the track, ‘When we were recording ‘Oh! Darling’ I came into the studios early every day for a week to sing it by myself [on the piano] because at first my voice was too clear. I wanted it to sound as though I’d been performing it on stage all week.’ McCartney would only try the song once each day; if it was not right he would wait until the next day.

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.

Matchbox

Written and first recorded (as “Match Box Blues”) by Blind Lemon Jefferson (1927).
Also recorded by The Shelton Brothers (1947), Carl Perkins (1956).
Hit version by The Beatles (US #17 1964).

From the wiki: “It was Carl Perkins’s father, Buck, who suggested that Carl record ‘Match Box Blues’. Buck knew only a few lines from the song, either from the 1927 recording by Blind Lemon Jefferson, or from a version recorded by Country musicians The Shelton Brothers. As Perkins began singing the few words his father had suggested, Jerry Lee Lewis, who was at that time a session piano player at Sun Studios, began a restrained boogie-woogie riff. Carl picked out a melody on the guitar to the riff and improvised more lyrics. Perkins’ recording was released in February 1957 with no apparent chart impact.

Hello Little Girl

Written and first recorded by The Beatles (1962).
Hit version by The Fourmost (UK #9 1963).
Also recorded by Gerry & The Pacemakers (1963).

From the wiki: “‘Hello Little Girl’ was the first song ever written by John Lennon. According to Lennon, he drew ‘on an old ’30s or ’40s song’ that his mother sang to him. Written in 1957, ‘Hello Little Girl’ was used as one of the songs at the Beatles unsuccessful Decca audition in 1962. In 1963, the English Merseybeat band The Fourmost made a recording of the song (produced by George Martin) and released it as their debut single. Two weeks later, Gerry & The Pacemakers also recorded a version of the song, but the version by the Fourmost was selected for the issue and reached #9 in the United Kingdom.”

Something

Written and first recorded (as a demo) by George Harrison (1969).
First commercial recording by Joe Cocker (1969).
Hit versions by The Beatles (US #1/UK #4 1969), Shirley Bassey (US #55/UK #4 1970), Johnny Rodriguez (C&W #6 1974)
Also recorded by Ray Charles (1971).

From the wiki: “‘Something’ was the first Beatles song written by lead guitarist George Harrison to appear as an A-side single, and the only song written by him to top the US charts while he was in the band. Harrison began working on a song that eventually became known as ‘Something’ during the 1968 recording sessions for The Beatles (aka The White Album). Harrison recorded the demo of ‘Something’ on February 25, 1969, his 26th birthday. Harrison’s original intention had been to offer the song to Apple Records signing Jackie Lomax as he had done with a previous composition, ‘Sour Milk Sea’. When this fell through, ‘Something’ was instead given to Joe Cocker to record. Cocker completed his recording at A&M Studios in Los Angeles before The Beatles completed their recording in August 1969 at Abbey Road, but Cocker’s recording was not released (on Joe Cocker!, his second album) until November 1969 – six weeks after the release of The Beatles’ Abbey Road.

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