Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Co-written and first recorded (as an instrumental) by Hoagy Carmichael (1927).
Hit versions by Irving Mills & His Hotsy Totsy Gang (US #20 1929), Isham Jones & His Orchestra (US #1 1930), Bing Crosby (US #5 1931), Louis Armstrong (US #16 1931), Frank Sinatra with The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra (US #7 1941), Nat “King” Cole (US #79/UK #24 1957), Billy Ward & His Dominoes (US #12/R&B #5/UK #13 1957), Nino Tempo & April Stevens (US #32 1964).
Also recorded by Jon Hendricks (1990).

From the “On October 31, 1927, Hoagy Carmichael and His Pals recorded ‘Stardust’ at the Gennett Records studio in Richmond, Indiana. Hoagy’s ‘pals,’ Emil Seidel and His Orchestra, agreed to record the medium-tempo instrumental in between their Sunday evening and Monday matinee performances in Indianapolis, seventy miles away. In 1928 Carmichael again recorded ‘Stardust,’ this time with lyrics he had written, but Gennett rejected it because the instrumental had sold so poorly. The following year, at Mills Music, Mitchell Parish was asked to set lyrics to coworker Carmichael’s song. The result was the 1929 publication date of ‘Star Dust’ with the music and lyrics we know today.

“According to the Carmichael, inspiration for the song struck while visiting his old university campus. Sitting on a wall reminiscing about the town, his college days, and past romances, he looked up at the starlit sky and whistled ‘Star Dust’. Richard Sudhalter’s biography ( Stardust Melody: The Life and Music of Hoagy Carmichael) contends that the melody may have begun with fragments, evolving over months and maybe years, but Carmichael preferred to perpetuate a myth that sweet songs are conceived in romantic settings.

“‘Stardust’ is arguably the most-recorded Pop tune in history and, as such, a top Jazz standard. Carmichael recorded nearly a half-dozen different versions of it, and the song has appeared on the music charts over fifteen times by a dozen different artists.

“In 1940, a milestone in Jazz recording occurred. Duke Ellington & His Orchestra, on a US tour, performed in Fargo, North Dakota. Two local Ellington fans had arranged to record the band live, a rare occurrence in those days of primitive recording equipment. During the course of the evening, the Ellington band swung through many of their great arrangements. At one point, a patron requested ‘Stardust’, a tune for which Ellington didn’t yet have a special arrangement. instead, tenor saxophonist Ben Webster performed an impromptu four-minute improvisation of the song. His version, which wasn’t commercially released until the 1970s, became Webster’s own favorite recording.”

Irving Mills & His Hotsy Totsy Gang, “Stardust” (1929):

Isham Jones & His Orchestra, “Stardust” (1930):

Bing Crosby with The Victor Young Orchestra, “Stardust” (1931):

Louis Armstrong, “Stardust” (1931):

Duke Ellington & Ben Webster, “Stardust” live recording (1940):

Frank Sinatra & The Pied Pipers with The Tommy Dorsey & His Orchestra, “Stardust” (1941):

Nat “King” Cole, “Stardust” (1957):

Billy Ward & His Dominoes, “Stardust” (1957):

Nino Tempo & April Stevens, “Stardust” from American Bandstand (1964):

Jon Hendricks, “Stardust” (1990):