Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Limbo Rock

First recorded by The Champs (US #40 1961).
Other hit version by Chubby Checker (US #2/R&B #3 1962).
Also recorded (as “Let’s Limbo Some More”) by Chubby Checker (US #20 1963).

From the wiki: “Limbo Rock” is a popular song about limbo dancing written by Kal Mann (under the pseudonym Jan Sheldon) and Billy Strange. An instrumental version was first recorded by The Champs in 1961, a band of studio musicians that included a touring configuration of Earl Palmer (drums), Tommy Tedesco (guitar), Plas Johnson (saxophone) and its newest member, Glen Campbell (guitar).

“Originally composed as ‘Monotonous Melody’, for the lack of any other name, the recording was retitled ‘Limbo Rock’ for release as the B-side to ‘Tequila Twist’, the 45 rpm followup to the Champs’ Top 10 hit ‘Tequila’. ‘Tequila Twist’ debuted at #98 in February 1962 on the Billboard Hot 100 … and then promptly disappeared. ‘Limbo Rock’ was then released as the A-side. It too debuted at #98 on the Hot 100 in May 1962 but managed to peak at #40, taking a very slow 12 weeks of chart progress to get there.

“The first vocal version was recorded in 1962 by Chubby Checker (on Parkway Records): it peaked at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks (held out by “Telstar” by The Tornados). The Chubby Checker recording also made it to number three on the R&B charts. In 1963, Checker then released a sequel, “Let’s Limbo Some More”, which peaked at #20 in the Billboard chart.

“Despite the light-hearted lyrics and authentically calypso-like melody, the origins of the limbo lie in the funerary rites of Trinidad and, to a lesser extent, Jamaica. Among the theories regarding the symbolism of the limbo dance is that the limbo pole or bar represents the dividing point between life and death, and that a successful passage under it symbolizes the successful passage of the soul to the afterlife.

“Traditionally, those passing under the limbo pole would do so at waist or hip level. The newer trend of passing under the pole at ever-lower levels was a late 1950s innovation popular with tourists to the Caribbean.”

Chubby Checker, “Limbo Rock” (1962):

Chubby Checker, “Let’s Limbo Some More” (1963):

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