Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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At Last

First performed by Glenn Miller & His Orchestra (1941).
First commercial recording by Glenn Miller & His Orchestra (US #9 1942).
Other hit versions by Ray Anthony (US #2 1952), Etta James (US #47/R&B #2/UK #39 1961), Celine Dion (MOR #16 2002).
Also recorded by Beyoncé (2008).

From the wiki: “‘At Last’ was first recorded in 1941 by Glenn Miller for possible inclusion in the film Sun Valley Serenade. The song, sung by Pat Friday with actor John Payne, was going to be a major performance on the soundtrack. But, the song was mostly deleted from the release print.

“A subsequent recording, in 1942, was made and used extensively a follow-up movie, Orchestra Wives (1942), with vocals by Pat Friday (dubbing for actress Lynn Bari) and Ray Eberle. In 1942, a vocal version of ‘At Last,’ sung solo by Ray Eberle, was recorded for commercial release by Glenn Miller and His Orchestra in Chicago in May 1942 and first released as the B-side to ‘(I’ve Got a Gal In) Kalamazoo’.

“Former Glenn Miller Orchestra trumpeter Ray Anthony had the highest charting recording of the song in the U.S. on the pop charts in 1952, peaking at #2 on the Billboard Music Popularity Chart.

“In 1961, ‘At Last’ became Etta James’ signature song and was the third in a string of successful songs from her Chess Records debut album At Last!. That 1961, ‘At Last’ became James’ second #2 R&B hit and crossed over to pop radio, reaching #47 on the Billboard Hot 100. It also became her first single to chart overseas, reaching #39 on the UK Single chart. James’ ‘At Last’ would be inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999.

“‘At Last’ was covered by Celine Dion and included on her sixth English-language album A New Day Has Come (2002). Of the song, Dion remarked ‘”I can see beginning my show and looking into everyone’s eyes and singing this song. This is my hello.’ Her recording was critically acclaimed. Frédéric Garat of Radio France Internationale wrote that the song is ‘a lovely exercise which reveals the layer of blues hiding underneath the slightly prim and proper petticoats of the ‘international star’.

“Beyoncé covered ‘At Last’ for the soundtrack album of the film Cadillac Records. In the film, Beyoncé actually portrays Etta James. Beyoncé won critical acclaim for her role in Cadillac Records and has performed ‘At Last’ several times since the movie was released, including in front of Etta James herself.”

Glenn Miller & His Orchestra, “At Last” (1942):

Glenn Miller & His Orchestra with Pat Friday & Ray Eberle, “At Last” from Orchestra Wives (1942):

Glenn Miller & His Orchestra, with Ray Eberle, “At Last” (1942):

The Ray Anthony Orchestra, “At Last” (1952):

Etta James, “At Last ” (1961):

Celine Dion, “At Last” (2002):

Beyoncé, “At Last” (2008):

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