Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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First released by The Corporation (1970).
Hit version by Dawn (US #3/UK #9/CAN #2/SWE #1/BRA #1/SNG #1 1970).

From the wiki: “‘Candida’ was written by Toni Wine (‘A Groovy Kind of Love‘) and Irwin Levine, songwriters for Don Kirshner at Screen Gems Music. Wine recalls: ‘We knew we wanted to write a Latin-flavored song, because of the areas that we grew up in, a lot of Latin and R&B music were being combined, and I grew up in Spanish Harlem. We needed a three-syllable name. But, Rosita had already been taken. Juanita was a hit. Maria had happened. So, Candida had been a name that I had toyed with and, there, she became a reality.’

“The Corporation’s recording was produced by Bill and Steve James, and released on Musicor Records. Music historian Jay Warner believes that this version was based on an early, slower piano-and-vocals demo by co-writer Wine. A July 1970 capsule review in Billboard magazine of both Dawn’s and the Corporation’s versions categorized the latter’s recording as possessing ‘a strong blues and Tex-Mex flavor’, and stated that both singles had ‘equal sales and chart potential’. In the end, The Corporation’s single did not sell well.

“Hank Medress of The Tokens (‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight‘) and Dave Appell were also, around the same time, producing the Wine-Levine song for Bell Records. For the first recording of the song, the lead vocal was done by Blues singer Frankie Paris, in a style reminiscent of the Drifters. Paris’s performance, however, was deemed unsatisfactory, and a new singer was sought for the track.

“Medress instead asked his friend, Tony Orlando, to perform the lead vocal. Orlando was reluctant to perform on a Bell Records single, as he did not want to jeopardize his job at Columbia Records managing their music publishing division. Medress reassured Orlando that they would use a bogus band name for the release, and that nobody would know who the singer was. Orlando finally agreed, partly because he believed the song would be unsuccessful and would not attract any attention.

“Orlando went into the studio with Appell and Medress, and sang his lead vocal over the prerecorded tracks used previously for the Paris recording. Background vocals were done by Wine and the Tokens’ lead singer, Jay Siegel. ‘Candida’ was put out as a single in July 1970, released under the moniker ‘Dawn’ (named after the daughter of either Jay Siegel or Bell Records executive Steve Wax).

“The single became a worldwide smash.”

Dawn, “Candida” (1970):