First recorded by The Cannonball Adderley Quintet (US #11 1966).
Other hit versions by The Mauds (US #85 1967), Larry Williams & Johnny “Guitar” Watson (US #96/R&B #23 1967), Marlena Shaw (US #58/R&B #33 1967), The Buckinghams (US #5 1967).
Also recorded by James Brown (1967), The Buddy Rich Big Band (1968).
From the wiki: “‘Mercy, Mercy, Mercy’ is a song written by Joe Zawinul in 1966 for Julian ‘Cannonball’ Adderley and his album Mercy, Mercy, Mercy! Live at ‘The Club’. The song was released as a promotional single for the album and became a surprise hit, reaching #11 on the Billboard charts in Feb. 1967. ‘Mercy, Mercy, Mercy’ song has been re-recorded numerous times, most notably by The Buckinghams who reached # 5 in August 1967, adding lyrics to the tune.
“The theme of the song on the original recording is performed by Zawinul himself, playing it on a Wurlitzer electric piano previously used by Ray Charles.
“‘Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” was first covered by the Mauds in 1967, using an arrangement of the original instrumental with lyrics written especially for them by Curtis Mayfield. The Mauds were part of the mid-1960s Chicago ‘garage band’ scene that included The Buckinghams, The Cryan Shames, New Colony Six, The Ides of March, and Shadows of Knight – a collection of groups that was able to chart 30 national hit singles between them from 1966-1968.
“In fact, it was Knight’s frontman Jimy Sohns who first discovered and championed The Mauds in 1966. ‘I rehearsed the first line-up of The Mauds when Jimy was still in high school and hand-picked them to replace us (the Shadows of Knight as the house band) when we left The Cellar (the famous teen club in Arlington Heights, IL) to play other places,’ remembers Sohns. The single attained regional popularity (via WLS-AM and WCFL-AM radio airplay) but stalled at #85 on the Billboard Hot 100 due to the better marketing and distribution of the Buckinghams’ single which used the Mauds’ arrangement – although with different lyrics – and peaked at #5 on the Hot 100.
“Other early vocal arrangements were released by Larry Williams & Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson (released February, 1967) and Marlena Shaw (released March, 1967).
“An instrumental arrangement of ‘Mercy, Mercy, Mercy’. featuring James Brown on keyboards, was released in 1967. The following year, a live arrangement of ‘Mercy, Mercy, Mercy’ was featured on the 1968 Buddy Rich Big Band album, Mercy, Mercy, recorded at Caesars Palace in 1968. The album received acclaim as the ‘finest all-round recording by Buddy Rich’s big band.'”