Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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


Ring of Fire

First recorded (as “Love’s Ring of Fire”) by Anita Carter (1963).
Hit versions by Johnny Cash (US #17/C&W #1/AUS #12 1963), Eric Burdon & the Animals (UK #35/AUS #10/GER #10/NETH #4 1969).

From the wiki: “Co-written by June Carter Cash (wife of Johnny Cash) and Merle Kilgore, ‘Ring of Fire’ was originally recorded by June’s sister, Anita Carter, on her Mercury Records album Anita Carter Sings Folk Songs Old and New.

Billboard gave Carter’s recording, upon its release in January 1963, a very favorable review: ‘A most unusual tune is sold in winning fashion by the thrush who shows her own individual and exciting style here, supported by blue grass guitar work.’ Alas, although it rated enough regional radio airplay to ‘bubble under’, her single did not chart on either the Hot 100 or Hot Country Singles charts.

“After hearing Anita’s arrangement, Johnny Cash claimed he had a dream where he heard the song accompanied by ‘Mexican horns’. Cash remembers saying, ‘I’ll give you [Anita] about five or six more months, and if you don’t hit with it, I’m gonna record it the way I feel it.’ When Carter’s recording failed to become a major hit, Cash recorded it his own way – adding the mariachi-style horns – plus the addition of Mother Maybelle and the Carter sisters prominently featured in the Cash arrangement singing harmony.”

“Numerous cover versions of ‘Ring of Fire’ have been produced, the most commercially successful version being by Eric Burdon & the Animals. Their version was recorded at the end of 1968 and released in early 1969, and made the top 40 in four countries.”

Johnny Cash, “Ring of Fire” (1963):

Eric Burdon & the Animals, “Ring of Fire” (1969):

Comments are closed.