Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life

First recorded (as a demo) by Franke & the Knockouts (1987, released 1998).
Hit version by Jennifer Warnes & Bill Medley (US #1/MOR #1/UK #6 1987 |UK #8 1991).

From the wiki: “‘(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life’ was composed in late 1986 or early 1987 by Franke Previte, John DeNicola, and Donald Markowitz. Previte, the ‘Franke’ of the group Franke & the Knockouts, had had solo success with the song ‘Sweetheart’ in 1981 but, by 1986, was without a recording contract. Producer and head of Millennium Records, Jimmy Ienner, asked Previte about writing some music for ‘a little movie called Dirty Dancing‘. Previte initially turned the request down because he was still trying to get a record deal, but Ienner was persistent, and got Previte to write several songs for the film, including ‘Hungry Eyes‘, later recorded by singer Eric Carmen.

“After getting further approval, Previte created a demo of the song, performing on it himself with singer Rachele Cappelli. The demo showcased how the harmonies were to be used, employing a ‘cold open’ and a slow build-up of the song to its finale.

“The demo wasn’t used in the final cut of the film − a more polished version recorded by Jennifer Warnes and Bill Medley was. However, because the Warnes/Medley track was not completed by the time the finale was filmed (it was shot first, due to the tight budget), Previte and Capelli’s much lighter and more youthful version was used as a backing track during filming so that the actors, Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey, and the dancers, could have something to dance to. Swayze later remarked it was his favorite version, even including all the subsequent remakes. (The demo version finally appeared on the 1998 CD reissue of Previte’s 1981 album Franke and the Knockouts, but is only listed as ‘Bonus Track’.

“‘(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life’ was initially intended for Donna Summer and Joe Esposito, but both turned it down. Bill Medley was approached by producer Ienner repeatedly over two months to do the recording, but he also turned it down because his daughter McKenna was due to be born, and he had promised his wife he would be there. After the birth of his daughter, Medley was approached again, because Jennifer Warnes had indicated she would record the song if she could do the duet with Medley. Medley then agreed to record the track with Warnes. With the release of the film it became a Top-10 worldwide hit (as did ‘Hungry Eyes’).

“‘Time of My Life’ also won a Golden Globe in 1988 for Best Original Song, the 1988 Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals, and the 1987 Academy Award for Best Original Song. Previte, DeNicola and Markowitz won the ‘ASCAP Songwriter Of The Year’ award in 1987, and is still one of the most frequently played songs on radio.”

Jennifer Warnes & Bill Medley, “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” (1987):

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