Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Supremes

Hello Stranger

Written and first recorded by Barbara Lewis (US #3/R&B #1 1963).
Other hit versions by Fire & Rain (US #100 1973), Yvonne Elliman (US #15/R&B #57/MOR #1/UK #26/NETH #20/NZ #12 1977), Carrie Lucas & The Whispers (R&B #20 1985).
Also recorded by Martha & the Vandellas (1963), The Capitols (1966), The Supremes & The Four Tops (1970).

From the wiki: “‘Hello Stranger’ was written by Barbara Lewis herself, who was originally inspired to write the while working gigs in Detroit with her musician father: ‘I would make the circuit with my dad and people would yell out: ‘Hey stranger, hello stranger, it’s been a long time’.’ The song is notable because its title comprises the first two words of the lyrics but is never at any point repeated throughout the remainder of the song.

“Lewis recorded ‘Hello Stranger’ at Chess Studios in Chicago in January 1963. The track’s producer Ollie McLaughlin recruited The Dells to provide the background vocals. The arrangement by Riley Hampton – then working with Etta James – featured a signature organ riff provided by keyboardist John Young. The track was completed after thirteen takes. Lewis would recall that, on hearing the playback of the finished track, Dells member Chuck Barksdale ‘kept jumping up and down and saying, ‘It’s a hit, it’s a hit.’…I didn’t really know. It was all new to me.’

Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye

First recorded by Steam (US #1/R&B #20 1969).
Also recorded by The Supremes (1970).
Other hit versions by Bananarama (US #101/UK #5 1983), The Nylons (US #12 1987).

From the wiki: “‘Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye’ was written and recorded by Paul Leka, Gary DeCarlo and Dale Frashuer, attributed to a then-fictitious band they named ‘Steam’ as a throw-away B-side. When the song began to get airplay on the radio and became a hit, the writers hired stand-in musicians to tour as Steam. (So, ‘Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye’ may be the biggest selling (over 6.5 million copies) B-side recorded by a non existent band in music history.) Leka, et al. wrote a primitive version of the song in the early 1960s when they were members of a band from Bridgeport, Connecticut, The Chateaus, who disbanded after several failed recordings.

Uncle John’s Fifth Bathroom Reader states that DeCarlo was recording a throwaway ‘flip side – something so bad, no disc jockey would accidentally play it as the ‘A’ side.’ ‘Na Na Hey Hey’ was described by DeCarlo as ‘an embarrassing record … an insult.’ But, Mercury Records decided it was great and released it as an A-side single. Nobody wanted to be identified with the record, however, so it was credited to ‘Steam’.

Come See About Me

First single release by Nella Dodds (US #74 1964).
Hit versions by The Supremes (US #1/R&B #2/UK #27 1964), Jr. Walker & The All Stars (US #24/R&B #8 1967), Shakin’ Stevens (UK #24 1987).
Also recorded by Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels (1966).

From the wiki: “The Supremes’ recording of ‘Come See About Me’ was recorded on July 13, 1964 during the sessions that produced the album Where Did Our Love Go, released in August 1964. The release of ‘Come See About Me’ as a single was held back while the album’s first two singles, ‘Where Did Our Love Go’ and ‘Baby Love’, charted. However, when 14-year old Nella Dodds’ Wand Records cover recording – precursor of what would eventually evolve into Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff’s classic 1970s ‘Philly Sound’ – was released as a single in October 1964 and entered the Billboard Hot 100 in early November, the Supremes’ version was rushed into release that November. ‘Come See About Me’ would be Dodds’ highest-charting single. She was scheduled to have a vinyl album released in the mid-60s, but it was never materialized.

I’m Gonna Make You Love Me

First recorded by Dee Dee Warwick (US #88/R&B #13 1966).
Also recorded by Jerry Butler (1967), Jay & the Techniques (1968).
Hit versions by Madeline Bell (US #26/R&B #32 1968), Diana Ross & The Supremes with The Temptations (US #2/R&B #2/UK #3 1968).

From the wiki: “Written by Philly Soul songwriters Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff (‘If You Don’t Know Me By Now’, ‘Love Train’, ‘Now That We Found Love‘), and producer Jerry Ross (‘Apples, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie‘, ‘Sunny‘), ‘I’m Gonna Make You Love Me’ was originally a Top-20 R&B hit for Dee Dee Warwick in 1966. It was released as the follow-up single to her Top-10 hit ‘I Want To Be With You’. Co-writer Ross produced the track while Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson provided background vocals. Warwick’s recording reached #13 R&B and crossed over to the Billboard Top 100 in December 1966.

Someday We’ll Be Together

First recorded by Johnny & Jackey (1961).
Hit versions by Diana Ross & The Supremes (US #1/R&B #1/UK #11 1969), Bert Kaempfert (MOR #27 1970), Bill Anderson & Jan Howard (C&W #4 1970).

From the wiki: “The song was written by Johnny Bristol, Jackey Beavers, and Harvey Fuqua in 1961. Bristol and Beavers recorded the song together as ‘Johnny & Jackey’ for the Tri-Phi label that same year. ‘Someday ..’ was a moderate success in the Midwestern United States, but gained little notice in other regions.

Tri-Phi was purchased by Motown in the mid-1960s. Fuqua, Bristol, and Beavers all then joined Berry Gordy’s famous Motown record company, and ‘Someday We’ll Be Together’ became part of Motown’s Jobete publishing catalog. In 1969, Bristol was preparing a cover version of ‘Someday We’ll Be Together,’ to be recorded by Motown act Jr. Walker & the All-Stars. Bristol had already recorded the instrumental track and the background vocals by Maxine Waters and Julia Waters when Berry Gordy happened upon the tracks and heard them. Gordy thought that ‘Someday …’ would be a perfect first solo single for Diana Ross, who was making her long-expected exit from the Supremes at the time, and had Bristol sequester Ross into the studio to record the song.

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