Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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After Midnight

Written and first recorded by J.J. Cale (1966).
Hit versions by Eric Clapton (US #18 1970), J.J. Cale (re-recording US #42 1972), Eric Clapton (re-recording Rock #4/UK #99 1988).
Also recorded by The Pioneers (as “Let It All Hang Out” 1971), Chet Atkins (1972), Sergio Mendes (1972), Maggie Bell (1974), The Jerry Garcia Band (1980), Pretty Lights (2009).

From the wiki: “J.J. Cale wrote ‘After Midnight’ in 1966 and first released it as single (on Liberty Records) the same year with no apparent chart success. But, the song would become the catalyst for his future success.

“When Eric Clapton was working with Delaney & Bonnie Bramlett, Leon Russell introduced Eric to Cale’s music. Among the songs that attracted Clapton’s attention, ‘After Midnight’ became the first to be released. It appeared on his 1970 self-titled debut album and was released as a single in late 1970, peaking at #18 on the Billboard Hot 100.

“Cale was unaware of Clapton’s 1970 recording until it became a radio hit. He recalled to Mojo magazine that when he heard Clapton’s version on his radio, ‘I was dirt poor, not making enough to eat and I wasn’t a young man. I was in my thirties, so I was very happy. It was nice to make some money.’ Cale’s friend and producer Audie Ashworth then encouraged J.J. to capitalize on the success of ‘After Midnight’ by recording a full album, Naturally, released in 1972. A re-recording by Cale of ‘After Midnight’ was taken from the album as a promotional single in 1972, peaking at #42 on the Billboard Hot 100.

“Given its obscure origin, ‘After Midnight’ has proven to be a popular song among musicians. In addition to Clapton’s and Cale’s recordings, the song has been recorded by (among others) Chet Atkins, the Jerry Garcia Band, Pretty Lights, Phish, Sérgio Mendes & Brasil ’77 (who arranged the song with an unusual 7/8 meter), blues-bock singer Maggie Bell (the ‘Scottish Janis Joplin’), and Marc Cohn. It was also recorded in 1971 by the reggae band The Pioneers under the title ‘Let It All Hang Out’ (not to be confused with the Hombres hit).

“In 1987, for use in a Michelob Beer commercial in the U.S., Eric Clapton re-recorded ‘After Midnight’ as a slower, bluesier song – more similar to Cale’s original than Clapton’s own 1970 arrangement. This version was issued as a promotional single in 1988 ahead of Clapton’s first box set, Crossroads, charting in the U.S. only on the Billboard Rock chart (#4) and #99 on the UK Singles chart.”

Eric Clapton, “After Midnight” (1970):

The Pioneers, “Let It All Hang Out” (1971):

J.J. Cale, “After Midnight” re-recording (1972):

Chet Atkins, “After Midnight” (1972):

Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’77, “After Midnight” (1972):

Maggie Bell, “After Midnight” (1974):

The Jerry Garcia Band, “After Midnight” live performance (1980):

Eric Clapton, “After Midnight” (1988):

J.J. Cale & Eric Clapton, “After Midnight” live @ Crossroads Guitar Festival (2004):

Pretty Lights, “Midnight Rider/After Midnight” remix Midnight at Vic Theatre (2009):

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