Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Woody Herman

Caldonia (What Makes Your Big Head So Hard?)

First recorded by Louis Jordan & His Tympany Five (R&B #1 1945).
Other hit versions by Erskine Hawkins (US #12/R&B #2 1945), Woody Herman & His Orchestra (US #2 1945), James Brown (US #95 1964).
Also recorded by Champion Jack Dupree (1967), B.B. King (1971).

From the wiki: “‘Caldonia’ is a jump-blues song, written by Louis Jordan (but crediting his then-wife, Fleecie Moore, for tax-evading purposes) and first recorded in 1945 by Louis Jordan & His Tympany Five. The lyrics may have been inspired by a real character: a tall Crescent City drag queen wearing oversized shoes.

“A cover version by Erskine Hawkins (‘Tuxedo Junction‘), also released in 1945, was described by Billboard magazine as ‘rock and roll’, the first time that phrase was used in print to describe any style of music. Woody Herman and his orchestra also covered ‘Caldonia’ in 1945, arranged by the young Neal Hefti, with Herman singing the lead vocal.

Blues in the Night

First performed by William Gillespie (1941).
First released by Artie Shaw (US #10 1941).
Other hit versions by Woody Herman & His Orchestra (US #1 1941), Dinah Shore (US #4 1942), Cab Calloway (US #8 1942), Rosemary Clooney (US #29 1952).
Also recorded by Judy Garland (1941), Chicago (1995).

From the wiki: “The song was first performed by William Gillespie, in the movie Blues In The Night, and was nominated for an Academy Award. Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer wrote the entire score for Blues in the Night. When they finished writing ‘Blues in the Night’, Mercer called a friend, singer Margaret Whiting, and asked if they could come over and play it for her. She suggested they come later because she had dinner guests — Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland, Mel Tormé, and Martha Raye. Instead, Arlen and Mercer went right over. Margaret Whiting remembered what happened then:

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