Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Earth Angel

First recorded by The Penguins (R&B #1 1954).
Other hit versions by The Crew Cuts (US #3/UK #4 1955), Gloria Mann (US #18 1955), New Edition (US #21/R&B #3 1985).

From the wiki: “The recording sounds so simple, and it is: four voices and a piano. It first aired on the radio before the records were even pressed, and the immediate and massive reaction it received forced the group to release the recording “as-is” without the additional embellishment and orchestration that had been originally planned. ‘Earth Angel’ became one of the blueprints for Doo-wop; the second such recording to hit the Top 10 (after The Chords’ ‘Sh-Boom’). The Penguins were four high school students from Fremont High in Los Angeles, and they recorded ‘Earth Angel’ in a garage and released it on a small black-owned label called Dootone Records. The recording became the first independent label release to appear on Billboard’s national pop charts.

“‘Earth Angel’ was first issued as the B-side of another song titled ‘Hey Senorita’ but DJs flipped the record and ‘Earth Angel’ became the hit, landing The Penguins a major label record deal with Mercury Records. The group never had another hit, although a re-release of ‘Earth Angel’ in 1960 ‘bubbled under’ at #101. It wasn’t the worst deal for Mercury Records, however, as the Penguins were managed by Buck Ram who, as part of the deal, insisted that Mercury also sign another of his acts: The Platters.”

The Crew Cuts, “Earth Angel” (1955):

Gloria Mann, “Earth Angel” (1955):

New Edition, “Earth Angel” (1985):

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