Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Written and first recorded by Allen Toussaint (1958).
Hit version by Al Hirt (US #4/MOR #1 1963).
Also recorded by The Angels (1964), The Beautiful South (1994).
Performed by The Muppets (1966|1968|1977).

From the wiki: “‘Java’ is an instrumental adaptation from a 1958 LP of piano compositions, The Wild Sounds of New Orleans, by Tousan, also known as New Orleans producer-songwriter Allen Toussaint (‘Working in a Coal Mine’, ‘Southern Nights’). As was the case of the rest of Toussaint’s LP, ‘Java’ was composed at the studio, primarily by Toussaint (along with Freddy Friday, Marilyn Schack, Alvin ‘Red’ Tyler).

“In 1963, trumpet player Al Hirt recorded the instrumental, and the track became the lead single from his album, Honey in the Horn. It was Hirt’s first and biggest hit on the US pop charts, reaching #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and spending four weeks at #1 on the Easy Listening chart in early 1964. Hirt released a live version on his 1965 album, Live at Carnegie Hall. Hirt’s recording won the Grammy Award for “Best Performance by an Orchestra or Instrumentalist with Orchestra” in 1964.

“The Angels (‘My Boyfriend’s Back’, 1963) released a “scat” vocal arrangement in 1964 as the B-side to the song ‘Little Beatle Boy’. Neither side charted. Another vocal group (and a band with three front vocalists), The Beautiful South, would perform the track in concert, often ending gigs with it, with the vocalists playing handheld percussion instruments or bouncing round the stage on giant space hoppers. In 1994, the group released a straight-forward instrumental arrangement as the B-side to ‘One Last Love Song’ (UK #14).

“In 1972, Soviet gymnast Olga Korbut performed her gold medal-winning floor routine at the Summer Olympics in Munich to a live piano version condensed to about 1 minute 9 seconds. The Muppet Show featured ‘Java’ at the beginning of Episode 22. Previously, the Muppets had also ‘performed’ the song twice, using the same ‘worm’ routine, on The Ed Sullivan Show – on November 27, 1966 and May 26, 1968.”

Al Hirt, “Java” (1963):

The Angels, “Java” vocal “scat” version (1964):

Olga Korbut, performing floor gymnastics routine to “Java” (1972):

The Muppets, “Java” from The Muppet Show (1977):

The Beautiful South, “Java” (1994):