Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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First recorded by Barney Bigard & His Jazzopaters (1936).
Hit versions by The Duke Ellington Orchestra (1937), Billy Eckstine (US #27/R&B #14 1949), Ralph Marterie (US #6 1953), Santo & Johnny (US #48 1959), Duane Eddy Al Casey (UK #42 1961).
Also recorded by The Mills Brothers (1941).

From the wiki: “‘Caravan’ is a jazz standard composed by Juan Tizol. The first version of the song was recorded in Hollywood in 1936, performed as an instrumental by Barney Bigard & His Jazzopators. The band members were: Cootie Williams (trumpet), Juan Tizol (trombone), Barney Bigard (clarinet), Harry Carney (baritone sax), Duke Ellington (piano), Billy Taylor (bass), Sonny Greer (drums).

“All the players on the original recording by the Jazzopaters were, in reality, members of the Duke Ellington Orchestra, which often split into smaller units to record small-band discs. Although Ellington performed in this recording, the session leader was Bigard under whose name the song was first released. The following year, the Duke Ellington Orchestra itself covered ‘Caravan’, the first of more than 350 recordings Ellington made of the song.

“In 1941, the Mills Brothers paid tribute to Ellington by recording an a capella version of ‘Caravan’, substituting their voices for instruments. A vocal cover, with lyrics by Irving Mills, was recorded in December 1948 by Billy Eckstine, with orchestration by Hugo Winterhalter, that charted Billboard Hit Parade Top-30 and Top-20 R&B in 1949, an accomplishment his friend, Ellington, is said to have been especially pleased.

“Ralph Materie charted even higher in 1953 with his cover. Santo & Johnny also charted with their ‘Caravan’ cover in 1959. In 1961, a version credited to Duane Eddy – but in reality future Wrecking Crew sessionman Al Casey – appeared on the label Gregmark Records. It did not chart in the US, but was issued (under Eddy’s name) on Parlophone in the UK where it peaked at #42.”

The Duke Ellington Orchestra, “Caravan” (1937):

The Mills Brothers, “Caravan” (1941):

Billy Eckstine, “Caravan” (1948):

Ralph Materie, “Caravan” (1953):

Santo & Johnny, “Caravan” (1959):

Duane Eddy (Al Casey), “Caravan” (1961):