Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Up on the Roof

First recorded by Little Eva (1962).
Hit versions by The Drifters (US #5/R&B #4 1963), Kenny Lynch (UK #10 1962), Julie Grant (UK #33 1963), Laura Nyro (US #92 1970), James Taylor (US #28 1980), Robson & Jerome (UK #1 1995).
Also recorded by Carole King (1970).

From the wiki: “‘Up on the Roof’ is a song written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King, first recorded in 1962 by Little Eva. The song was also recorded by The Drifters and released late that year, becoming a major hit in early 1963 (reaching #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #4 on the US R&B Singles chart).

“In the UK the Drifters’ version of ‘Up on the Roof’ failed to reach the Top 50, being trumped by two local cover versions, sung by, respectively, Julie Grant and Kenny Lynch. The Kenny Lynch version, which largely replicated the Drifters’ original, was the more successful, reaching #10 UK. The Julie Grant version, which reached #33 UK, was reinvented as a Merseybeat number. Its producer, Tony Hatch, would later be inspired to write Petula Clark’s iconic hit ‘Downtown’, which was originally envisioned as being in the style of The Drifters, with whom Hatch had hoped to place it.

“Songwriter Laura Nyro (‘Stoney End‘, ‘Wedding Bell Blues‘, ‘And When I Die‘) made a rare recording of a non-original song when she recorded ‘Up on the Roof’ for her 1970 album Christmas and the Beads of Sweat, for which the track served as a single affording Nyro her sole Billboard Hot 100 appearance with a #92 peak. James Taylor, who had played guitar on Carole King’s own cover of ‘Up on the Roof’ for her 1970 album Writer, remade the song for his own 1979 album, Flag. Issued as the album’s lead single, it peaked at #28 in July 1979 and would become Taylor’s final Top 40 hit as a solo artist. (‘Her Town, Too,’ a duet with J.D. Souther, would peak at #11 in 1981.)

“‘Up on the Roof’ had its most successful UK incarnation via a 1995 remake by Robson & Jerome, released as a double A-side coupled with their remake of ‘I Believe’. The single reached #1 on the UK Singles chart.

“In 2004, The Drifters’ ‘Up on the Roof’ was named #113 on Rolling Stone magazine’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list. It is one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.”

The Drifters, “Up on the Roof” (1962):

Kenny Lynch, “Up on the Roof” (1962):

Julie Grant, “Up on the Roof” (1963):

Carole King, “Up on the Roof” (1970):

Laura Nyro, “Up on the Roof” (1970):

James Taylor, “Up on the Roof” (1980):

Robson & Jerome, “Up on the Roof” (1995):

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