Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Me and Bobby McGee

First recorded by Roger Miller (C&W #12 1969).
Other hit versions by Gordon Lightfoot (US #13/CAN #1 1970), Janis Joplin (US #1 1971). Jerry Lee Lewis (US #40/MOR #39/CAN #50 1971).
Also recorded by Kenny Rogers & the First Edition (1969), Kris Kristofferson (1970), The Statler Brothers (1970).

From the wiki: “Roger Miller was the first artist to record and to have a hit with ‘Me and Bobby McGee’, written by Kris Kristofferson (‘Help Me Make Through the Night‘, ‘Lovin’ Her Was Easier (That Anything I’ll Ever Do Again‘) and Fred Foster, peaking with it at #12 on the US Country chart in 1969.

“Kenny Rogers & the First Edition then covered the song (with Rogers on lead vocals), releasing it in on their album Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town in 1969. Gordon Lightfoot’s 1970 recording hit #13 on the US pop chart and #1 country in his native Canada in 1970, and was also a Top-10 hit in South Africa in 1971.

“Just a few days before her death in October 1970, Janis Joplin covered the song for inclusion on her forthcoming Pearl album. Kristofferson had previously sung the song for Joplin, and singer Bob Neuwirth had taught it to her. Kristofferson, however, did not know Joplin had recorded ‘Me and Bobby McGee’ until after her death – the first time he heard it was the day after she died. Joplin’s version topped the charts in 1971 to become her only #1 single and, in 2004, her recording of ‘Me and Bobby McGee’ was ranked #148 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Kristofferson would record an arrangement of his own song for his 1970 debut album, Kristofferson.

“In a 2008 autobiography, both Don Reid and Harold Reid of the Statler Brothers say Kristofferson first promised ‘Me and Bobby McGee’ to them. But, when they later inquired about recording it, they learned Miller had already cut the song. The Reids say there were no hard feelings, and were happy about Miller’s success with the song. ‘Me and Bobby McGee’ was later recorded by the singing quarter for the Statler Brothers’ album, Bed of Roses, but was never released by them as a single.”

Kenny Rogers & the First Edition, “Me and Bobby McGee” (1969):

Kris Kristofferson, “Me and Bobby McGee” (1970):

Gordon Lightfoot, “Me and Bobby McGee” (1970):

Statler Brothers, “Me and Bobby McGee” (1970):

Janis Joplin, “Me and Bobby McGee” (1971):

Jerry Lee Lewis, “Me and Bobby McGee” (1971):

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