Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Endless Love

First recorded (as a demo) by Lionel Richie (1981, released 2003).
First performed by Shea Chambers (1981).
Hit versions by Diana Ross & Lionel Richie (US #1/MOR #1/R&B #1/UK #7 1981), Mariah Carey & Luther Vandross (US #2/R&B #7/CAN #6/UK #3/IRE #4/AUS #2 1994).

From the wiki: “‘Endless Love’ was written by Lionel Richie, and was first recorded by him as a demo in 1981. It would not be released until 2003, as a bonus track on the remastered CD version of his debut solo album, Lionel Richie.

“‘Endless Love’ was performed in the 1981 movie Endless Love by Shea Chambers (an uncredited lip-sync performance) but whose vocal did not appear on the subsequent motion picture soundtrack album release. An arrangement recorded as a duet by Diana Ross and Lionel Richie was instead used, which was subsequently released as the promotional single for the album. (Released while Richie still officially was a member of The Commodores. The success of the duet encouraged Richie to branch out into a full-fledged, and very successful, solo career.)

“The Ross/Richie duet became a #1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100, and nearly 30 years after its release it still remains the best-selling single of Ross’ career. The single stayed at #1 for no less than nine weeks from August 9 to October 10, 1981, making it the biggest-selling single of the year in the US. It also topped the Billboard R&B chart and the Adult Contemporary chart as well as becoming a Top ten hit single in the UK, peaking at #7.

“A 1994 cover duet by Mariah Carey & Luther Vandross was a worldwide Top-10 hit. That recording of ‘Endless Love’ became Vandross’ biggest Pop hit ever, and gave Richie his first Top 10 hit as a songwriter in seven years. It also became Vandross’s fifth Top-10 single, and Carey’s twelfth.

“In the beginning of her career, Shea Chambers was mentored by the legendary music arranger Gene Page who is most often associated with Barry White. With Page’s direction and guidance, Shea recorded songs to be considered for her first record release, which were written by such artists as, Brenda Russell, Bryan Adams, Leon Ware (producer for Marvin Gaye) and Barry White. But it was Shea’s movie soundtrack performance on the title track, ‘Endless Love’, produced by Lionel Richie and arranged by Gene Page, that gave Chambers national acclaim in the recording industry. Chambers was nominated in 2012 for Best Duet by a Duo or Group for her recording with Jose Feliciano of ‘I’m So Glad We Met’.”

Shea Chambers, “Endless Love” (1981):

Diana Ross & Lionel Richie, “Endless Love” (1981):

Mariah Carey & Luther Vandross, “Endless Love” live performance (1994):

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