Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

Help support this site! Consider clicking an ad from time to time. Thanks!


Right or Wrong

First recorded by Mike Markel and His Orchestra (1922).
Also recorded by The Original New Orleans Jazz Band (1925), Art “The Whispering Pianist” Gilham (1926), The Golden Gate Orchestra feat. Scrappy Lambert (1927), Emmett Miller and the Georgia Crackers (1929), Milton Brown & His Musical Brownies (1936), Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys (1937).
Hit version by George Strait (C&W #1/CAN #1 1984).

From the wiki: “‘Right or Wrong’ first came into being as a jazz ballad in 1921. Composed by Arthur Sizemore and Paul Biese, with words by Haven Gillespie, the song was described by the original sheet music as ‘a beautiful fox-trot ballad.’

“‘Right or Wrong’ was recorded by many early jazz and swing orchestras. The earliest known recording is by Mike Markel and His Orchestra the same year the song was published (1921). Other early, and varied, arrangements were recorded by the Original New Orleans Dixie Jazz Band (1925), Scrappy Lambert (1927), and Peggy English (1928). But the arrangement with the longest lasting influence was recorded by Emmett Miller and the Georgia Crackers in 1929. Miller was an American minstrel show performer (often performing in blackface, which accounts for his obscurity today) and recording artist known for his falsetto, yodel-like voice.

“Miller’s singing style – the odd nasal pitch tone, along with the breaking of lines and bars in a song into a high yodel-like yelp – has been imitated by scores of singers since he first began to record in 1924. Jimmie Rodgers, Gene Autry, Lefty Fritzell, Tommy Duncan, Woody Guthrie, Howlin’ Wolf, Leon Redbone, and Bob Dylan have all been influenced by Miller’s one-of-a-kind vocal abilities. Of equal importance was Miller’s visionary fusion of blues and jazz, country and swing, black and white, comedy and crooning. His Georgia Crackers band, too, served as something of an incubator. Members at the time Miller recorded ‘Right or Wrong’ included Tommy Dorsey, Jimmy Dorsey, Gene Krupa, and Eddie Lang.

“Miller’s arrangement was picked up by western swing “founder” and innovator Milton Brown and his contemporary, Bob Wills. Both their bands released separate recordings of ‘Right or Wrong’ in 1936 and 1937, respectively, after which the song became a western swing standard.

“The biggest charted hit for ‘Right or Wrong’ came in 1984 when George Strait’s western swing arrangement was released as the second promotional single from his 1983 album Right or Wrong. It topped the country singles charts in both the US and Canada. The success of the Strait recording led the lyricist, Haven Gillespie (who would later also write the lyrics to ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town’), to be given a special posthumous ASCAP award in 1985.”

Art “The Whispering Pianist” Gilham, “Right or Wrong” (1926):

The Golden Gate Orchestra feat. Scrappy Lambert, “Right or Wrong” (1927):

Emmett Miller & His Georgia Crackers, “Right or Wrong” (1929):

Milton Brown & His Musical Brownies, “Right or Wrong” (1936):

Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys, “Right or Wrong” (1937):

George Strait, “Right or Wrong” (1983):

Comments are closed.