Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Black and White

First recorded by Pete Seeger (1956).
Also recorded by Sammy Davis Jr. (1957), Earl Robinson (1957), The (UK) Spinners (1969), Maytones (1970).
Hit versions by Greyhound (UK #6/NETH #2 1971), Three Dog Night (US #1/CAN #1/AST #8/GER #24 1972).

From the wiki: “‘Black and White’ was written in 1954 by David I. Arkin (father of actor Alan Arkin) and Earl Robinson, inspired by the United States Supreme Court decision that year of Brown v. Board of Education that outlawed racial segregation in US public schools.

“‘Black and White’ was first recorded by Pete Seeger in 1956 and released on his album Love Songs for Friends and Foes, followed by Sammy Davis Jr. in 1957 (for a limited-edition Anti-Defamation League EP) and also a version recorded that year, too, by co-writer Robinson. The original folk song lyrics (not used in either Greyhound’s or Three Dog Night’s versions) include the line ‘Their robes were black, their heads were white’, referring to the US Supreme Court justices involved in the 1954 decision.

“Folk group the (UK) Spinners, from Liverpool, recorded the song for their first album in 1969. Jamaican Reggae group Greyhound charted in the UK Top-10 with ‘Black and White’ in 1971 (based on an earlier Maytones’ 1970 recording), where it peaked at #6. When Three Dog Night recorded ‘Black and White’ in 1972, the single was released at a time when civil rights was still a big issue in the US. The message of racial equality was emphasized by their use of a children’s choir in the repeated chorus during the closing moments of the song.”

Earl Robinson, “Black and White” (1957):

The (UK) Spinners, “Black and White” (1969):

The Maytones, “Black and White” (1970):

Greyhound, “Black and White” (1971):

Three Dog Night, “Black and White” (1972):

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