Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: The Platters

Harbor Lights

First recorded by Frances Langford (US #6 1937).
Other hit versions by Swing and Sway with Sammy Kaye (US #1 1950), Guy Lombardo & His Royal Canadians (US #2 1950), Ray Anthony & His Orchestra (US #4 1950), Bing Crosby (US #8 1950), Dinah Washington (R&B #10 1951), The Platters (US #8/R&B #15/UK #11 1960).

From the wiki: “‘Harbor Lights’ was written by Hugh Williams (pseudonym for Will Grosz) with lyrics by Jimmy Kennedy, and first recorded by Frances Langford (with Sam Koki & His Islanders) in 1937. The most-popular version was recorded in 1950 by Swing & Sway with Sammy Kaye, lasting 25 weeks on the Billboard chart and peaking at #1. Other charting covers in 1950 were recorded by The Guy Lombardo Orchestra, Ray Anthony & His Orchestra, and Bing Crosby. Dinah Washington charted R&B Top 10 in 1951, while The Platters returned ‘Harbor Lights’ to the US Top 40 in 1960.”

Only You (And You Alone)

First recorded by The Platters (1954).
Hit versions by The Hilltoppers (US#8/UK #3 1955), The Platters (US #5/R&B #1 1955 |UK #18 1957), Ringo Starr (US #6/MOR #1/UK #28 1975), Reba McEntire (C&W #13 1982).

From the wiki: “‘Only You (And You Alone)’ (often shortened to ‘Only You’) was composed by Buck Ram. The first recording of the song by The Platters, for Federal Records, turned out poorly in 1954. But, after a re-recording the song scored a major hit when it was re-released in 1955. Platters bass singer Herb Reed later recalled how the group hit upon its successful version: ‘We tried it so many times, and it was terrible. One time we were rehearsing in the car … and the car jerked. Tony went ‘O-oHHHH-nly you.’ We laughed at first, but when he sang that song—that was the sign we had hit on something.’ ‘Only You’ was the only Platter’s recording on which songwriter and Platter’s manager Ram played the piano. The Platters’ re-release beat out a rival cover version by The Hilltoppers (‘Marianne‘).

The Wonder of You

First recorded by Ray Peterson (US #25/UK #23 1959).
Other hit versions by Ronnie Hilton (UK #22 1959), Elvis Presley (US #9/C&W #37/UK #1 1970).
Also recorded by The Platters (1968).

From the wiki: “‘The Wonder of You’ was written by Baker Knight for Perry Como. It was, instead, given to Ray Peterson (‘Tell Laura I Love Her’) who recorded released ‘The Wonder of You’ in 1959 as a single. It became his first Top 40 hit, peaking at #25 on the Billboard Hot 100. That same year it was also recorded by Ronnie Hilton in the United Kingdom; his version reached #22 on the UK Singles Chart.

Twilight Time

First recorded by The Three Suns (1944).
Also recorded by Les Brown & His Band of Renown (1944).
First vocal version recorded by Jimmy Dorsey f. Teddy Walters (1945).
Hit version by The Platters (US #1/R&B #1/UK #3 1958).

From the wiki: “‘Twilight Time’ is a popular song with lyrics by Buck Ram and the music by The Three Suns, and first recorded as an instrumental by The Three Suns in 1944. Les Brown’s instrumental recording was released in early 1945 as the B-side of ‘Sentimental Journey’ (Doris Day). The first vocal version of the song on record was also released in 1945, by bandleader Jimmy Dorsey with Teddy Walters on vocals.”

Ebb Tide

First recorded (as “The Sea”) by Robert Maxwell (1953).
Hit versions by Frank Chacksfield & His Orchestra (US #2/UK #9 1953), Vic Damone (US #10 1953), Roy Hamilton (R&B #5 1954), The Platters (US #56 1960), Righteous Brothers (US #5/UK #48 1965).

From the wiki: “‘Ebb Tide’ was written in 1953 by the lyricist Carl Sigman and composer Robert Maxwell. Maxwell, also a harpist, first recorded the song as an instrumental titled ‘The Sea’. (The song’s build up is to illustrate the ocean waves coming in and out, to and from the shores; thus, ‘ebb tide’.) The best-known versions are by Frank Chacksfield & His Orchestra (1953), Vic Damone (1953), Roy Hamilton (1954), The Platters (1960), and the Righteous Brothers (1965). For the Righteous Brothers, ‘Ebb Tide’ would be the last recording of theirs produced by Phil Spector.”

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

First recorded by Gertrude Niesen (1933).
Hit versions by Paul Whiteman & His Orchestra (US #1 1934), Artie Shaw & The Gramercy Five (US #24 1941), The Platters (US#1/R&B #3/UK #1 1958), Blue Haze (US #27 1973), Bryan Ferry (UK #17 1974).
Also recorded by Jerry Garcia (1990).

From the wiki: “‘Smoke Gets in Your Eyes’ is a show tune written by American composer Jerome Kern and lyricist Otto Harbach for their 1933 musical Roberta. It was sung in the original show by Tamara Drasin and originally recorded by Gertrude Niesen on October 13, 1933. It was performed by Irene Dunne for the 1935 film adaptation, co-starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Roger.

“It has been covered by numerous artists, beginning with Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra with Bob Lawrence on vocal, which went to the top of the charts in 1934. Possibly the most famous version was recorded in 1958 by The Platters, which became a #1 hit on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 — it reached #3 on the R&B charts in 1959.Jerry Garcia, who was named after Jerome Kern, released a music video in the early 1990s covering the song, with actress Ashley Judd sitting in the background listening.”

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