Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Little Honda

First recorded by The Beach Boys (US #65 1964).
Other hit version by The Hondells (US #9 1964).

From the wiki: “‘Little Honda’ was written by Brian Wilson and Mike Love for The Beach Boys. It was released on the group’s 1964 album All Summer Long, and was also featured on the EP Four by The Beach Boys but was not released as a single until after The Hondells’ version had charted and peaked. The song pays tribute to small Honda motorcycles, specifically the Honda Super Cub. Carl Wilson recalls:

[Brian Wilson] does exactly what he wants to do. I remember [sits back and laughs] — this is so funny — when we did ‘Little Honda’, Brian wanted me to get this real distorted guitar sound, real fuzzy. ‘This guitar sounds like shit,’ I said. ‘Brian, I hate this.’ And he goes, ‘Would you fucking do it? Just do it.’ When I heard it, I felt like an asshole. It sounded really hot. That was before fuzz became a big deal.

“It was during the recording sessions of ‘Little Honda’ (and ‘I Get Around’) when Brian relieved his father, Murry Wilson, of his managerial duties after three years. An attempt at reconciliation on Murry’s part, much of it captured on the tapes for the 1965 recording sessions of ‘Help Me, Rhonda’, cemented the break.

“‘Little Honda’ was covered by The Hondells later in 1964, whose recording, produced by Gary Usher, peaked at #9 on the U.S. Billboard 100. The Hondells were a band manufactured by Usher, originally consisting of session musicians – including Glen Campbell (who had also performed on the Beach Boys’ All Summer Long album), Al DeLory, Tommy Tedesco, Bill Cooper and Richie Podolor. Usher was tasked with recording an album of Honda-related songs for Mercury Records, with production credited to Nick Venet, though Usher was the brains behind the record.

“Aside from ‘Little Honda’, most of the songs on The Hondells’ Go Little Honda album were written by Usher and KFWB disc jockey and lyricist Roger Christian. The album’s cover showed a four-member group and its liner notes contained an elaborate back story, penned by Christian, which posited one Ritchie Burns as the founder and leader of the band. At the time the album was delivered, the name of the group had not been decided. Under consideration were two names: ‘The Rising Sons’ and ‘The Hondells’. Venet chose the latter and released ‘Little Honda’ as the album’s single under the new group name.

“The Hondells also recorded commercials for Pepsi and Coty Cosmetics. Musicians on these recordings were Ritchie Burns, Glen Campbell, Wayne Edwards, Dennis McCarthy, Randy Thomas, who sang the lead on the Pepsi commercial and Al Ferguson who sang the lead on the Coty commercial.”

The Hondells, “Little Honda” (1964):

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