Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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On Broadway

Originally recorded by The Cookies (1962).
Also recorded (and released first) by The Crystals (1962).
Hit versions by The Drifters (US #9/R&B #7 1963) and George Benson (US #7/R&B #2 1978).

From the wiki: “Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann were based at Aldon Music, in NYC, and the song as written by Mann-Weil was originally recorded by The Cookies (although The Crystals’ version beat them to release) and featured an upbeat lyric in which the protagonist is still on her way to Broadway and sings ‘I got to get there soon, or I’ll just die.’

“For the Crystals’ recording, Phil Spector created his soon-to-be trademark cocktail of pizzicato strings, mandolins and castanets. His ‘Wall of Sound’ was inspired by, and reflects, the ‘neon lights of Broadway’, and might not even exist without Spector’s ‘On Broadway’ arrangement.

“When Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller let it be known that The Drifters had booked studio time for the following day and were a song short, Mann-Weil forwarded to them ‘On Broadway’. Leiber-Stoller liked the song but felt that the arrangement was not quite right and the four held an overnight brainstorming session which culminated in the better-known version of the song – with a more bluesy feel that better matched the new lyric written in which the singer was now actually on Broadway and having a hard time.

“George Benson’s cover of ‘On Broadway’ appeared on his 1978 album Weekend in L.A.. Released as a promotional single, it peaked at #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #2 on the Soul chart. It also won for him the 1979 Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance.”

The Crystals, “On Broadway” (1962):

The Drifters, “On Broadway” (1963):

George Benson, “On Broadway” (1978):

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