Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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The “Tonight Show” Theme (“Johnny’s Theme”)

First recorded (as “Toot Tweet (It’s Really Love)”) by Tutti’s Trumpets (1959).
Also recorded (“It’s Really Love”) by Annette Funicello (1960).
Best-known recording by The Tonight Show Band (1962).

From the wiki: “‘Johnny’s Theme’, performed as the theme song of ‘The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson’ for 30 years, began life as ‘Toot Sweet’, a pop instrumental composed in 1959 by Paul Anka and recorded that same year by Tutti’s Trumpets as the B-side to The Camarata Strings’ single ‘Lost In a Fog’ released on Disney’s Buena Vista label. Salvatore ‘Tutti’ Camarata, bandleader of the Camarata Strings, was Annette Funicello’s producer at the time. He asked Anka to contribute some songs for Funicello’s first album to follow her work on The Mickey Mouse Club. Anka added lyrics to ‘Toot Sweet’ and published them under the title ‘It’s Really Love’.

“When Johnny Carson, a fan of jazz music, was preparing to take over as the permanent host of The Tonight Show starting in October 1962, he recognized that he would need a theme song. Carson and Anka had worked together in England on the television special An Evening with Paul Anka in 1961; when they happened to meet up again in New York City the following year, Carson manager Al Bruno mentioned needing a theme. Anka created a new instrumental arrangement for ‘It’s Really Love’ and sent a demo to Carson and Ed McMahon, who were in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, making preparations for the show. McMahon said ‘it was the first time either one of us heard [the song]— and magic.’ As the song’s original composer, Anka was paid each time the song was broadcast, earning him an average of about US$200,000 per year.

“Camarata was first hired by Walt Disney in 1956 to form Disneyland Records, doubling up as the music director and producer for the label. Camarata had suggested Disney build his own recording studio, but Disney declined and instead encouraged Camarata to build his own. In 1958 Camarata purchased the first building, an old auto repair shop on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, California, that would become the location of Sunset Sound Recorders. He produced over three hundred albums there during his 16-year association with Disney. By the early 1960s, Sunset Sound Recorders became an independent recording studio – and remains so to this day – one of the largest independents in the industry. Clients over the years have included the Rolling Stones, Van Halen, Miles Davis, The Doors, James Taylor, Led Zeppelin, Aretha Franklin, Roberta Flack, and the Beach Boys.”

Annette Funicello, “It’s Really Love” (1960):

The Tonight Show Band, “The Tonight Show Theme” (1962):

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