Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Category: Latin

So Nice (Summer Samba)

First recorded (as “Samba De Verão”) by Eumir Deodato (1964).
First vocal recording (as “Samba De Verão”) by Marcos Valle (1965).
Hit versions (in English) by The Walter Wanderley Trio (US #26/MOR #3 1966), Johnny Mathis (MOR #17 1966), Connie Francis (MOR #17 1966), Vicki Carr (MOR #32 1966).

From the wiki: “‘Summer Samba’ (also known as ‘So Nice’ or its original Portuguese title, ‘Samba de Verão’) is a 1964 Bossa nova song by Brazilian composer Marcos Valle

“Brazilian musician, arranger and producer Eumir Deodato, a musical autodidact, starting with the accordion at age 12, first recorded the song in 1964 as an instrumentalal. Co-writer Valle recorded the first vocal version of ‘Samba De Verão’ in 1965, with the original Portuguese lyrics coming from Marcos’ brother, Paulo Sérgio.


First recorded by João Gilberto (1958).
Hit versions by Ella Fitzgerald (US #102/UK #38 1962), Stan Getz & Charlie Byrd (US #15/MOR #4/UK #11 1962).
Also recorded by Lambert, Hendricks & Bavan (1963).

From the wiki: “‘Desafinado’ (a Portuguese word usually rendered into English as ‘out of tune’ or ‘off-key’) is a bossa nova song composed by Antonio Carlos Jobim with lyrics (in Portuguese) by Newton Mendonça as a response to critics who claimed that bossa nova was a new genre for singers who can’t sing. First recorded in late 1958 by João Gilberto, it was released in Brazil in February 1959 as a double-sided shellac 78 rpm and soon after, in May 1959, as one of twelve songs on Gilberto’s debut long-play album, Chega de saudade, the first collection of bossa nova songs ever released.

“English-language lyrics were later written, in 1962, by Jon Hendricks and ‘Jessie Cavanaugh’ (a pseudonym used by Howie Richmond of the Richmond Organization [TRO] music publishing conglomerate), and were first recorded in 1962 by Ella Fitzgerald whose promotional single “bubbled under” the Hot 100 in the US but charted Top 40 on the UK Singles chart. Lambert, (Jon) Hendricks & Bavan would release their own English-language arrangement in 1963.

“The 1962 recording by Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd (from the album Jazz Samba) would become the definitive version of ‘Desafinado’, becoming a major Pop hit in 1962 in both the US and the UK. The song was voted by the Brazilian edition of Rolling Stone magazine as the 14th greatest Brazilian song. ‘Desafinado’ was also inducted into the Latin Grammy Hall of Fame in 2001.”


First recorded (as “Guajira Guantanamera”) by Joséito Fernández (1940).
Also recorded by Pete Seeger (1963), Celia Cruz (1967).
Hit versions by The Sandpipers (US #9/MOR #3/UK #7/CAN #10/IRE #3 1966), Wyclef Jean & the Refugee Camp All Stars (US #62/R&B #23/UK #25 1997).

From the wiki: “‘Guantanamera’ (Spanish: ‘from Guantánamo, feminine’, thus ‘she from Guantánamo’) is perhaps the best-known Cuban song and that country’s most noted patriotic song.

“The music for the song is sometimes attributed to José Fernández Diaz, known as Joseíto Fernández, who claimed to have written it at various dates (consensus puts 1929 as its year of origin), and who used it regularly in one of his radio programs. After a lengthy copyright dispute, the People’s Supreme Court of Cuba credited Fernández as the sole composer of the music in 1993.


Written and first recorded (as “Jin-Go-Lo-Ba”) by Babatunde Olatunji (1960).
Hit album version by Santana (1969).

From the wiki: “‘Jin-Go-Lo-Ba’ was the most popular song on the Drums of Passion album released in 1960 by Nigerian percussionist Babatunde Olatunji, unquestionably the first recording to popularize African music in the West. The simple exchange between the mother drum (iya ilu) and the baby drum (omele) became Babatunde’s signature song. When Santana later covered the song, in 1969, and used it as the B-side to ‘Evil Ways‘, the writing credit was mangled. Initial pressings of the Santana album and the 45 erroneously listed Aaron Copland as the ‘Jingo’ composer! It turns out Copland did compose a song titled ‘Jingo’ – just not this one.”

The Peanut Vendor

First recorded (as “El manisero”) by Rita Montaner con Orquesta (1927).
Hit versions by Don Azpiazu & His Havana Casino Orchestra (US #1 1930), Louis Armstrong (US #15 1930), Red Nichols & His Five Pennies (US #5 1931), The California Ramblers (US #5 1931), Stan Kenton & His Orchestra (US #1 1947).
Also recorded by Stan Kenton (1956 |1959), by Stan Kenton & June Christy (1960).

From the wiki: “‘El manisero’, known in English as ‘The Peanut Vendor’, is a Cuban son-pregón composed by Moisés Simons. Together with ‘Guantanamera’, it is arguably the most famous piece of music created by a Cuban musician. ‘The Peanut Vendor'” has been recorded more than 160 times, sold over a million copies of the sheet music, and was the first million-selling 78 rpm of Cuban music. Its success was far-reaching, directly leading to the ‘Rumba craze’ in the US and Europe which lasted through the 1940s.


First recorded by Lupita Palomera with Lira de San Cristobal (1937).
Hit versions by Xavier Cugat & His Waldorf-Astoria Orchestra (US #3 1941), The Four Aces (US #7 1952), The Ventures (US #15/UK #4 1960).
Also recorded by The Glenn Miller Orchestra (1941), Linda Ronstadt (1992).

From the wiki: “‘Perfidia’ (Spanish for ‘perfidy’, as in faithlessness, treachery or betrayal) was written by Alberto Domínguez about love and betrayal, and first recorded (in Spanish) in 1937 by Lupita Palomera. Other hit versions were recorded by Xavier Cugat (1941), the Four Aces (1952) and the Ventures (1960).

“Linda Ronstadt’s 1992 recording of the song in English with a Spanish introduction was used in the 1992 movie The Mambo Kings. Ronstadt also recorded the song in Spanish for her 1992 album Frenesí. At the 9th Lo Nuestro Awards, in 1993, her español version received a nomination for Tropical Song of the Year.

Mas, Que Nada!

First recorded by Jorge Ben (1963).
Hit version by Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66 (US#47/MOR #4 1966).

From the wiki: “‘Mas, Que Nada!’ was written and originally performed by Jorge Ben (‘Do You Think I’m Sexy?‘) on his 1963 debut album. The song would later become a signature song – and a US hit – of Sérgio Mendes & Brasil ’66.

“‘Mas, Que Nada!’ has been voted by the Brazilian edition of Rolling Stone magazine as the 5th greatest Brazilian song of all time, and has been inducted into the Latin Grammy Hall of Fame.

Girl from Ipanema

First released (as “Garota de Ipanema”) by Pery Ribeiro (1962).
Hit versions by Stan Getz & Joao Gilberto (US #5/MOR #1/UK #29 1964), Stan Getz & Astrud Gilberto (MOR #1 1964).
Also recorded by Ella Fitzgerald (as “Boy from Ipanema”, 1965), Amy Winehouse (2002).

From the wiki: “‘Garota de Ipanema’ (‘The Girl from Ipanema’) was the worldwide Bossa nova hit song that won a Grammy for Record of the Year in 1965. It was written in 1962, with music by Antônio Carlos Jobim and Portuguese lyrics by Vinicius de Moraes. English lyrics were written later by Norman Gimbel (‘So Nice‘, ‘Killing Me Softly with His Song‘).

“The first commercial recording was in 1962, by Pery Ribeiro. The 1964 single, performed by Astrud Gilberto and Stan Getz and shortened from the album version recorded in 1963 by Getz and Joao Gilberto, became the international hit. The original choice as vocalist was Sarah Vaughan, but when Gilberto heard the English translation, he decided that Astrud – Joao’s wife – should sing it. Her subtle vocal added a nuance to the song.

“Numerous recordings have been used in films, sometimes as an elevator music cliché, and the song has been covered by other singers innumerable times (including a gender-turning version. titled ‘Boy from Ipanema’, sung by the likes of Ella Fitzgerald and Peggy Lee). ‘Girl from Ipanema’ is believed to be the second most recorded pop song in history, after ‘Yesterday’ by The Beatles.

Love Me With All of Your Heart

First recorded (as “Cuando calienta el sol”) by Los Hermanos Rigual (1961).
Hit versions by Steve Allen & His Orchestra (US #85 1963), The Ray Charles Singers (US #3 1964), Karl Denver (UK #35 1964), The Bachelors (US #38 1966), Johnny Rodriguez (C&W #7 1978).

From the wiki: “‘Love Me with All Your Heart’ was based on the Spanish-language song “Cuando calienta el sol”, written by Nicaraguan songwriter and bandleader Rafael Gaston Perez, and made famous first with Spanish lyrics written by the Rigual Brothers (Carlos Rigual and Mario Rigual). The English-language lyrics are sometimes credited to Michael Vaughn (or Maurice Vaughn) and sometimes to Sunny Skylar. Although both the Spanish and the English versions are love songs, the lyrics are not direct translations of each other. The Spanish title translates as ‘When the sun heats (or warms) up’.

“Steve Allen & His Orchestra covered the original version in 1963, peaking at #83 on the Billboard Hot 100. The following year, the Ray Charles Singers hit the US Top-5 with their English-language cover. A UK cover version, by Karl Denver, peaked at #35.”

Evil Ways

First recorded by Willie Bobo (1968).
Also recorded by The Village Callers (1968).
Hit version by Santana (US #9 1969).

From the wiki: “‘Evil Ways’ was made famous by Santana from their 1969 album, Santana. It was written by Clarence ‘Sonny’ Henry and originally recorded by Jazz percussionist Willie Bobo on his 1967 album, Bobo Motion.

“A year before Santana’s 1969 recording, ‘Evil Ways’ was also recorded by the band The Village Callers – considered to be one of the best bands in East Los Angeles and among the first bands to perform with Latin percussion roots in the ‘Eastside Sound’ of the early to mid-60s – for the album The Village Callers Live, recorded May 5, 1968 at the Plush Bunny nightclub in Pico Rivera, CA. So, it could be argued that the Callers’ recording – which received heavy radio airplay in the Bay Area – was what inspired Santana to record their arrangement of the song.

“Recorded by Santana in May 1969, ‘Evil Ways’, the second single from the group’s debut album, Santana, was released in December 1969 and would quickly become Santana’s first Top-40 and first Top-10 hit in the U.S. ”

Gypsy Queen

Written and first recorded by Gabor Szabo (1966).
Hit album version by Santana (1970).

From the wiki: “Hungarian jazz guitarist Gabor Szabo (‘Breezin’‘) wrote and recorded ‘Gypsy Queen’ for his 1966 album Spellbinder. Szabo had escaped Communist Hungary in 1956 for the US, where he entered the Berklee School of Music, Boston. By 1958, Szabo had been invited to perform at the prestigious Newport Jazz Festival.

“Szabo incorporated elements of folk music from his native Hungary, from Gypsy and Roma influences, into his guitar playing, and his guitar style would strongly influence Carlos Santana’s work. (Santana’s 2012 instrumental album Shape Shifter includes a song titled “Mr. Szabo”, played in tribute in the style of Szabo).

Besame Mucho

First recorded by Emilio Tuero (1941).
Hit versions by Jimmy Dorsey & His Orchestra (US #1 1944), Lucho Gatica (1953), The Coasters (US #70 1960), The Beatles (1962|1969).

From the wiki: “‘Besame Mucho’ (‘Kiss Me Much’) was written in 1940 by Mexican songwriter Consuelo Velázquez. According to Velázquez herself, she wrote this song even though she had not yet ever been kissed at the time; she’d heard kissing was considered a sin. ‘Besame Mucho’ has since become of the most famous boleros, and was recognized in 1999 as the most sung and recorded Mexican song in the world. Emilio Tuero was the first to record the song, but the Lucho Gatica recording in 1953 made the song world-famous.

Oye Como Va

Written and first recorded by Tito Puente & His Orchestra (1963).
Inspired by “Chanchullo” by Israel “Cachao” Lopez (1937).
Hit version by Santana (US #13/MOR #11/R&B #32/CAN #7/MEX #9/AUS #13/GER #29 1971).
Also recorded by Natalie Cole (2013).

From the wiki: “‘Oye Como Va’ is a song written by Latin Jazz and Mambo musician Tito Puente in 1963. The fact that the phrase ‘Oye como va’ is the title of the song and is sung somewhat separately from the phrase ‘mi ritmo’ makes for its interpretation as ‘Hey, how’s it going?’ However, the first sentence is actually ‘Oye como va mi ritmo,’ meaning ‘Listen to how my rhythm goes.’ Israel ‘Cachao’ López’s 1937 recording, ‘Rareza de Melitón’ (later changed to ‘Chanchullo’), inspired Tito Puente’s signature tune. Puente had previously recorded ‘Chanchullo’ in 1959, for his album Mucho cha cha.

No One to Depend On

Co-written and first recorded (as “Spanish Grease”) by Willie Bobo (1965).
Hit version by Santana (US #36 1971).

From the wiki: “The main melody and theme of Santana’s ‘No One to Depend One’ is taken from Willie Bobo’s 1965 recording ‘Spanish Grease’.

“Bobo (born William Correa) grew up in Spanish Harlem, New York City. He made his name in Latin Jazz, specifically Afro-Cuban jazz, in the 1960s and ’70s, with the timbales becoming his favoured instrument. He met Mongo Santamaría shortly after his arrival in New York and studied with him while acting as his translator, and later at the age of 19 joined Tito Puente for four years. The nickname ‘Bobo’ is said to have been bestowed on him by the jazz pianist Mary Lou Williams in the early 1950s.