Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Oh No Not My Baby

First recorded by The Shirelles (1964, released 1994).
Hit versions by Maxine Brown (US #24 1964), Manfred Mann (UK# 11 1964), Merry Clayton (US #71/R&B #30 1972), Rod Stewart (UK #6 1973).
Also recorded by Carole King (1980).

From the wiki: “‘Oh No Not My Baby’ was written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King. The first recorded version of the song was by The Shirelles, with the group’s members alternating leads – an approach that ultimately rendered the song unreleasable because it was a great departure from the Shirelle’s ‘standard’ sound. It would not be released until appearing on the compilation Shirelles: Lost and Found in 1994.

“Maxine Brown recalls, then, that Stan Greenberg, Scepter Records executive, gave her the song with the advisement that she had to ‘find the original melody’ from the recording by The Shirelles: ‘They [had gone] so far off by each [group member] taking their own lead, no one knew any more where the real melody stood.’

“Brown recalled sitting on the porch of her one level house in Queens listening to The Shirelles’ track play on a boom box propped in a window. A group of children skipping rope on the sidewalk picked up the song’s main hook before Brown herself; hearing the children singing ‘Oh no not my baby’ as they skipped gave Brown the wherewithal to determine the song’s melody. Brown recorded her vocal over The Shirelles’ original backing track with the group’s vocals erased; Dee Dee Warwick provided the harmony vocal on the chorus.

“The song was covered first in the UK by Manfred Mann, peaking at #11 on the UK Singles chart in 1964. Merry Clayton recorded a slow-ballad version of ‘Oh No Not My Baby’ in 1972 featuring co-writer Carole King on piano in a session produced by Lou Adler. Clayton’s recording earned her a nomination for the Grammy Award for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance for the year 1972.

“In 1973, Rod Stewart (backed by his group Faces) charted in the UK with ‘Oh No Not My Baby’. His self-produced version – a single with no parent album – reached #6 UK in September 1973.

“In 1980, King covered her own composition for the album Pearls: Songs of Goffin and King.”

Maxine Brown, “Oh No Not My Baby” (1964):

Manfred Mann, “Oh No Not My Baby” (1964):

Merry Clayton, “Oh No Not My Baby” (1972):

Merry Clayton with Carole King “Oh No Not My Baby” studio video (1972):

Rod Stewart, “Oh No Not My Baby” (1973):

Carole King, “Oh No Not My Baby” (1980):