Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Stormy Weather

First recorded by Ethel Waters (US #1 1933).
Also recorded by Duke Ellington & His Famous Orchestra (1933), Frances Langford (1933).
Other popular versions by Leo Reisman & His Orchestra (US #1 1933), Guy Lombardo & His Royal Canadians (US #2 1933), Lena Horne (1941|US #21 1943), Kay Starr (1945), Billie Holiday (1952), Fats Comet (UK #17 1985).

From the wiki: “‘Stormy Weather’ was a 1933 song written by Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler. Ethel Waters first sang it at The Cotton Club night club in Harlem in 1933 as part of The Cotton Club Parade of 1933 where, according to her autobiography, she ‘sang ‘Stormy Weather’ from the depths of the private hell in which I was being crushed and suffocated.’

“When I got out there in the middle of the Cotton Club floor, I was telling things I couldn’t frame in words. I was singing the story of my misery and confusion, of the misunderstandings in my life I couldn’t straighten out, the story of wrongs and outrages done to me by people I had loved and trusted.”

“Leo Reisman’s orchestra arrangement was one of the biggest hit on records in 1933 (with co-author Arlen himself as vocalist); Waters’ recorded version was also a top-seller. And it was Waters’ recording that would be inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2003, with the Library of Congress additionally honoring the song by adding it in 2004 to the National Recording Registry.

“Duke Ellington recorded an instrumental version of the song in 1933 and another version with singer Ivie Anderson in his 1933 Paramount short film Bundle of Blues. Lena Horne first recorded the song in 1941 for RCA Victor with the Lou Bring Orchestra. In 1943, she recorded another version of ‘Stormy Weather’ for the movie of the same name. Horne’s version of the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2000.

“Kay Starr recorded ‘Stormy Weather’ in 1945, backed by the King Cole Trio — Nat King Cole (piano), Oscar Moore (guitar), John Kirby (bass) with assistance from Max Roach (drums), Bill Coleman (trumpet), Buster Bailey (clarinet), Benny Carter (alto saxophone, arranger) and Coleman Hawkins (tenor saxophone).

“‘Stormy Weather’ was released as a single by the industrial hip-hop group, Fats Comet, issued in 1985 on World Records and peaking in the UK Top 20.”

Leo Reisman & His Orchestra feat. Harold Arlen, “Stormy Weather” (1933):

Frances Langford, “Stormy Weather” (1933):

Guy Lombardo & His Royal Canadians, “Stormy Weather” (1933):

Duke Ellington & His Famous Orchestra, “Stormy Weather” (1933):

Lena Horne, “Stormy Weather” (1941):

Lena Horne, “Stormy Weather” from the move Stormy Weather (1943):

Kay Starr, “Stormy Weather” (1945):

Billie Holiday, “Stormy Weather” (1952):

Fats Comet, “Stormy Weather” (1985):