Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Maggie May (The Beatles)

Originally recorded by The Vipers Skiffle Group (1957).
Also recorded by Judy Garland (1964), and The Beatles (1969).

From the wiki: “Banned by BBC Radio on its release because of the sexual content of the lyrics, ‘Maggie May’ (also known as ‘Maggie Mae’) is a traditional Liverpool folk song about a prostitute who robbed a ‘homeward bounder’: a sailor coming home from a round-trip. The song specifies several real streets in Liverpool, notably Lime Street in the center of the town.

“The Vipers Skiffle Group formed in the spring of 1956 in central London, originally as a trio of singer-guitarists, including future radio and TV personality Wally Whyton. The group became the resident band at the 2i’s Coffee Bar in Soho. After a number of hit records produced by future Beatles producer George Martin, including Whyton’s song ‘Don’t You Rock Me Daddy-O’, the group split up in 1960, and Whyton moved into television work. (Martin would later comment that working with the Vipers gave him important experience in working with an ‘informally trained but enthusiastic group of musicians.’)

“In 1964, the composer and lyricist Lionel Bart (the creator of the musical Oliver!), used the song and its backstory as the basis for a musical set around the Liverpool Docks. The show, also called Maggie May, ran for two years in London. The Bart arrangement was regularly sung by Judy Garland, and was recorded by her on the Sings Lionel Bart’s Maggie May EP released only in the UK and Europe in 1964.

“A brief extract was performed by The Beatles in a joking manner during their Get Back sessions, in early 1969, at a point in the proceedings when they were warming up in the studio by playing old rock and roll and skiffle songs that they had known and played in their teenage years. They adopt heavy scouse accents for the performance.

“Though the performance was obviously tongue-in-cheek a truncated version of it was included on the 1970 album drawn from those sessions, Let It Be, appearing as the last track on the LP’s first side, immediately after the title song.”

Judy Garland, “Maggie May” live performance @ the London Palladium (1964):

The Beatles, “Maggie Mae” from Let It Be (1969):

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